The standard political narrative has no place in figuring out how to keep children from dying in school shootings

May 25 – The day after a mass shooting in an elementary school in Uvalde, TX, where 19 children and two adults were killed has the country in another, sadly familiar, state of shock.

The shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, walked into a classroom, locked the door and opened fire. He was killed by a border patrol agent at the scene. 

Congressman John Joyce said, “I think all of us have been affected by this and our hearts truly are heavy. We mourn alongside those children, their families, the teachers and the community in Texas. I think first and foremost, we have to thank the police officers, the firefighters, the first responders, the nurses and the doctors who worked to save those in face of this incredible tragedy. This is something we need to pause, reflect on, address. The evil that has permeated our society is present. We all know that. Today we are processing that. Alice and I started the morning praying for these families and I encourage everyone else as more information comes in to pause and realize that these families are suffering and we need to reach out and wrap our arms around them in prayer right now. I think it’s an important part of our community. It’s certainly an important part of our district.”

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “I think we will learn a lot more today and tomorrow about this. There are some aspects of this that we need to know more information. How did this guy get into the school is one thing I’m really curious about.”

The shooter wrecked his truck outside the elementary school and allegedly shot his grandmother before the attack. She has apparently survived. 

Could the attack on the school have been random because of the accident?

Barkdoll said, “Clearly we have a problem in America and I don’t know what the solution to this is. This is happening with way too much regularity. It seems to be a uniquely American problem.”

Overnight reporting about the shooter in Texas seems to mirror the same background as the recent Buffalo shooter – bullying in school, a recent drop out, isolation, strange social media posts.

The shooter purchased the guns just last week on his 18th birthday. Texas had just expanded its law within the last year to allow 18 year olds to more easily purchase weapons.

Barkdoll said, “I think you’re going to hear a lot more debate about that specific issue. Could there be some reforms that would address these kind of things? That’s not to say any of this could have been prevented, by the way, but I think you’re going to see a lot more debate about that.”

The shooter was not going to be graduating with his classmates this week.

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “Anyone who wants to just grab one issue and blame that for this would be foolish. We have a serious problem in this country and it’s a combination of smart phones, isolation, especially through the COVID years. We just heard about this kid in Buffalo who spent too much time online and got brainwashed, influence by a horrible group that caused him to do what he did. We hear about the subway shooter in New York and the man who drove his car into a parade, they believed some of the nonsense that’s out there and I’m not talking about stopping free speech. I’m talking about let’s get honest about some of the messages that we’re promoting in this country either for power or influence or whatever and start understanding how people are being affected. We have to start letting people see each other and if something’s out of whack, we’ve got to come together, either as a community through our churches, through our schools and start addressing these problems. We’re walking on eggshells. We’re too afraid to offend anybody. We don’t want accuse somebody. We’re accused of hate if we point out something that’s abnormal. That has to end. We have to be able to look at these situations, see what all the influences are. We’re never going to be able to prevent everything and that’s a foolish idea to go to an extreme – put everybody locked up so that we never have a single case of anything. At the same time, we’ve got to take the muzzles off and make everybody stop being afraid to point out obviously bad situations or odd situations that could be a telltale sign of something happening.”

Barkdoll said, “It is a combination of things and I think that’s the answer. Look, none of us know any more or any less than the next guy. We are observing this like the rest of the country, grieving for these 19 kids that went to school yesterday and were murdered. It’s a problem, but I do think it’s overly simplistic when you know immediately on television you saw people going to their partisan corners.”

One side said it has to be about gun reform. Another said it has to be about arming the schools.

Barkdoll noted, “I think social media is a contributor to these problems. I think there are legitimate questions that our leaders need to address…the fact this seems like it just keeps happening and keeps happening, clearly there’s a problem and I think there need to be just some efforts made, can we do something that would at least help address this?”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “When you’re looking at our leaders and the predictable narratives that come out of those with armed security surrounding them, whether it’s Hollywood or whether it’s the president or a former president. They’ll be the first to wag their finger and say we’ve got to do something about this, but relying on guys like Bill Clinton or Joe Biden when you do actually have a very thoughtful guy in Joe Manchin. Joe Manchin is going to what about the mental health? So if you can’t rely on politicians and we have to rely on ourselves, then what is the fix with moms, dads, mimies, poppies and church leaders?”

Barkdoll said, “At the street level all of us have a role in these situations.”

The background of the Texas shooter shows serious isolation and no real connections in the community. He apparently worked part time at a local Wendy’s and the co-workers had seen what they felt was pretty odd behavior from this kid.

Barkdoll said, “Maybe we do have a duty just as individuals to try to do something. I don’t know what the answer is, but if you see someone that’s having these kind of problems or struggles, there ought to be a way that we can report that or try to get that person some assistance.”

It seems every one of the most recent mass shooters have similar backgrounds.

Barkdoll said, “We as a society I think need to figure a way out. What are we going to do to try to fix this?”

Jansen noted, “I think we’ve got to be very wary in a society where we’re infantilizing our young people and we’re making them into permanent victims. I’m sorry I’m going to criticize the psychiatric and psychological world. All this trauma informed nonsense. When you look at what they’re doing, they’re actually convincing I think kids who otherwise would have had no problems that they’re the victim. They’re the victim of the system. They’re the victim of discrimination that I think in some people’s heads is way over exaggerated and imagined. They make them feel helpless. There’s nothing you can do about it. The system is against you. That kind of demoralization along with infantilizing these kids, letting them live at home forever, letting them act like little kids forever, not demanding anything from them, getting rid of all the standards, this is a recipe for disaster and I think we’re seeing the fruits of that more and more and more.”

Video games also play a role in some of the shooters.

Ryan pointed out, “Also you’ve got a grandparent here that is trying to hold the family together, so what did she know? And then you’ve got the two parents of the Buffalo shooter. You start hearing about some of the things that were involved in that kid’s world as well, there are telltale signs right in front of you, but you don’t have adults in the room that want to ring the bell.”

Jansen said, “It seems like adults just are being told you don’t have authority over your kids. We have to put everybody on the same level with children. No children are children. They should not be given so much.”

Often times these shooters post suggestive thoughts on social media. The shooter in Texas posted photos on Facebook and Instagram of the weapons and ammunition he purchased with ominous messages.

Barkdoll said, “Getting back to the street level, if you’re on social media and you see those kind of postings, you need to call the police. We have a responsibility as people to try to step in and at least alert law enforcement.”

Ryan said, “You’ve got to get past the idea of ‘I can save this’ to ‘this is a mess and I need some help.’ I think reaching out for that help is the first major step. If all the flags are showing, he’s isolation or she’s isolated, they’re playing video games, they’re running out getting guns and they’re anti-social, then let’s figure out the way so that we don’t see this happen with the routineness that’s happening right now.”

Jansen said, “Complicated. Many, many issues to look at and we’ve got to avoid that temptation just to think of one thing and this will be the answer because that’s not true.”

Ryan said, “Either side, left or right, right now has no business talking about this or putting up memes, ridiculous, irresponsible, childish memes on social media. The predictable narratives from the very people on either side need to be parked and we need to figure out what’s next.”