Thoughtful debate will address shootings


Solutions, respect needed to offer gun debate answers


Last week, Santa Fe. Next week, who knows where? The news wailed again with coverage of another school shooting. More children attending schools have died this year than have active military service personnel. Our hearts hurt with this statistic.

With our hunting backgrounds, we consider ourselves savvy about firearms. But the people in Santa Fe, including the family of the shooter, probably thought so, as well. We hope that any solutions that come from this latest tragedy are sensible as well as respectful.

Here in Gillespie County, as in much of rural Texas, we are respectful of gun rights. Guns are part of a heritage, from the Schuetzenvereins (shooting clubs) to the strong connection to the land and harvesting animals for both food and management.

We enjoy both hunting and shooting for sport. Many living here have military backgrounds in which they used weapons. We regularly highlight those who do well in shooting sports that teach responsible use, from the Schuetzenvereins to the 4-H BB gun clubs, and we highlight those in the trade, from the heirloom-quality guns found in a local gun shop, to the skills of craftsmen who relish making weapons, such as can be found on our Business page this week.

But surely there are some things we can do to stop these senseless killings in our schools. Like the cartoon at right shows, too often “solutions” are presented as black-and-white or absolutist. Like most things, common sense probably lies somewhere in the middle.

We don’t know the answers to why so many are choosing to settle their disputes or act on their mental illness with weapons. We don’t believe it is video games, as there are violent video games in use around the globe. We don’t think it is “because they took God out of schools,” as much more secular countries record no school shootings.

The U.S. is the only country where this happens with such frequency. With a population of 350 million and nearly as many guns, some will slip into the hands of the irresponsible or mentally deranged.

School shootings are a form of domestic terrorism, and terrorists don’t always leave signs of what’s to come.

But we also want the hunter’s heritage respected. Whether it is Opa’s shotgun handed down, or a modern rifle used for hunting hogs or for sport, those who use firearms responsibly shouldn’t have to give up their rights because of another irresponsible person.

We are grateful to Governor Greg Abbott for convening some round table discussions to at least begin to talk about possible solutions. He talked of bringing in educators, parents and students “on swift solutions to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.” He mentioned stronger background checks and strategies to keep guns out of the hands of those who pose dangers to others, safety personnel and mental health interventions.

“In the fog of the aftermath of a catastrophe like this, the answers are not always immediate, but the answers will come by us working together,” Abbott said.

The pattern has been after these occur, there is a period of higher awareness, then it fades as the news cycle goes on to the next thing.

But we also don’t want to have to face what those parents in Santa Fe faced last week. We hope for sensible solutions offered and an open mind by our legislators. – K.E.C.