Another. That one word screaming out in supersized and super bold type atop Page 1 of The New York Post on Saturday accompanied by a stark photograph of an anguished mother trying to comfort a hysterical, grieving teen pretty much said it all.
After all, it’s been said scores of times before in recent American history. Another armed teenager – this time at a Santa Fe, Texas, high school – inconspicuously entered another public school determined to unleash another mass bloodbath. In the end, another round of breaking news reports filled the airwaves, another grisly death toll briefly captured the hearts and minds of Americans as another town collectively grieved at another vigil or another makeshift memorial for the victims.
If the long-standing plot lines play out as expected, in the days and weeks to come, we can count on yet another round of vacuous calls for hope and prayers for the victims and another short-term spotlight on how to prevent a similar mass assault that likely will end with another sobering dose of reality in the form of continued inaction from public policymakers in Washington and Columbus.
The latest school-shooting tragedy erupted as classes began Friday at the suburban Houston high school. An honor student and athlete at the Santa Fe High entered the building wearing a Born to Kill T-shirt and armed with an AR-15 style rifle, a pistol and a shotgun, according to authorities.
Moments later, eight students and two substitute teachers lay dead amid the mayhem and carnage.
The attack played out in similar fashion to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 14 students and three staff members were killed by a former student on Valentine’s Day.
In its aftermath, Parkland students galvanized a national movement to control gun violence, known as “Never Again MSD.” It succeeded in focusing this country’s attention on gun violence beyond a day or two after such tragedies and also chalked up a few legislative victories toward saner firearms regulations.
Unfortunately, however, that heightened activism has not filtered fully into places where it really counts – the nation’s capital and the capitals of most of the 50 states, including Columbus.
TRUMP’S IRRESPONSIBLE INACTION
At the White House, many will recall President Donald J. Trump took part in an emotionally charged meeting with survivors and friends of the dead of Parkland, after which he vowed “immediate action” on a wide variety of gun-safety initiatives for the nation’s public schools. Those included raising to 21 the minimum age for purchasing assault weapons, implementing tougher universal background checks and establishing guidelines to take guns away from troubled or mentally ill individuals. Sadly, it did not take the chief executive long to break those commitments when confronted by the alluring power and wealth of the National Rifle Association.
“There’s not much political support” for those measures, the president said. While probably true, Trump irresponsibly missed his opportunity to use his powerful bully pulpit to build support for those and other initiatives that seek to balance the sacred rights of public safety with the legitimate Second Amendment rights of gun ownership for all U.S. citizens.
The Republican-controlled U.S. Congress, unfortunately, has marched in lockstep with the president despite poll after poll showing majority support for responsible and limited regulations on gun sales and ownership.
As U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “the American people are united overwhelmingly – gun owners and non- gun owners – on common-sense gun safety legislation. Expand background checks and do away with the gun-show loophole.”
Sadly, too, the political and human will to effect productive change to curb gun violence appears equally wanting in the halls of Ohio’s state Legislature.
Shortly after the Parkland shootings, Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich proposed a set of sensible and modest restrictions. Among them were legislation to take guns away from people at risk of hurting themselves or others, to keep guns away from those convicted of domestic violence, to close gaps in the background-check system and to ban bump stocks and armor-piercing ammunition.
“I’d really like to get my gun stuff going,” the governor said just three days before the Santa Fe mass assault.
We join the governor in urging state legislators to take his proposals seriously. With the Legislature slated for recess next week until possibly November, there’s no time to waste and there’s no excuse for not extending the spring session if needed to act on Kasich’s timely recommendations.
Failure to do so only lengthens the time line of inertia and inaction in the national epidemic of gun violence. That, sad to say, invites only another gruesome scene of carnage at another school on another day not too very far away.