More Shootings. A Proposal

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The other day, in the wake of the Tulsa killings, I stop to chat to an acquaintance sitting on a low brick wall in front of our building.
I bring up the recent shootings and then ask, ‘What do you think of gun control?’
The person replies, ‘I believe in the second amendment… I listen to such and such podcast and I believe in that. We have to deal with the mentally ill.’
To which I reply, ‘The mentally ill are responsible for some of it but far from all of it.’
The person returns, ‘We have to go to church…’
And I say, ‘I’m not a church going person.’
Seemingly annoyed, he stood up as he readied to leave and added, ‘Go to church.’
End of conversation.
I wish the gunman in Buffalo, NY, the one in Uvalde, Texas, and the one in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to name only the more recent ones, had found solace and peace of mind in church. But they didn’t. And if the almighty was looking over them as we’re taught he/she does, then, somehow they got away.
So much for being all mighty and all seeing and what not, because we’re bleeding down here.
It is up to us to come up with solutions because the church isn’t doing it.
The men in Buffalo, Uvalde and Tulsa – it’s men, overwhelmingly, not women who like to shoot innocent people – obviously needed to talk to someone. They did not.
Never mind the second amendment for that won’t be repealed. But we need to find some ways to let people channel their grief and resentment.
Government can help. Maybe churches can, too.
Here’s an idea for government to consider. Create a public website or phone line that does not identify the user, so it won’t be seen as a trap. Encourage those in pain to reach out. If tied to a team of helpers that can quickly go to the assistance of the person, should they so desire, it may add to it.
One possible name for the service is ‘Talk. Save your Life.’ Or ‘Crime on My Mind’. Other names may be more effective.
Start a pilot program somewhere.
I wrote a booklet some years ago titled ‘Letters to a Shooter’ where I try to talk a person out of such ghastly action. I will gladly donate the book to the effort. You don’t have to keep my name on it, either. Take it off and modify the contents as you wish, so long as it facilitates assisting the person in pain.
But we have to do something because we are bleeding.
The defenders of the second amendment won’t budge, bills proposing background checks before purchasing guns will keep being defeated in congress, and we’ll continue to shake our heads as we reflect on the latest shooting, muttering under our breaths, ‘Oh God.’
To the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, will you please step up and remind us of how much are the mentally ill responsible for the madness that afflicts the nation?
Thank you
And let’s get ready for the next one. It could be in my neighborhood or yours.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts

Uvalde -Texas 5/24 ‘No Kids at Risk’

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But they were. On that sad morning, just 4 days ago, the gunman crashed his truck into a ditch next to the school, two people from a funeral home across the street came out to see what was happening, were shot at but not hurt, then called 911.
An offsite officer assigned to the school, upon hearing the call, made his way back but didn’t spot the gunman.
Even though the gunman kept firing his weapon.
A teacher propped open a door – then left it open as he went back in to call 911.
That would be the door the gunman would use to go into the building.
Officers arrived. Lots of them. Two got shot at and grazed by the bullets.
Then the officers froze.
They had to call for back up, their commander is reported to have said, for they needed more equipment. Shields. Whatever.
And as they waited they soothed themselves by repeating ‘No kids at risk’.
Meanwhile more desperate 911 calls from inside the school were being made.
Shots being fired.
Wait.
Right. For back up and equipment.
More wait.
And then 21 people were killed. 19 children and 2 teachers.
Only then, the officers went in and killed the gunman. He probably had run out of ammunition.
Yesterday evening I read the sad timeline of events. Thank you to the authorities for putting it out. We needed to know.
In an adjoining article, fleshed out details of the response to the attack were presented.
And nowhere was there mention of the word fear. Nowhere.
But fear had flooded the place, ever since the moment the gunman crashed his truck into the ditch, ever since the first 911 call went out and the gunman started firing round after round.
The offsite officer returning to the school had missed the gunman because of fear.
The officers who’d entered the school and were shot at, stopped the pursuit because of fear.
The commander who put the officer response on hold did so because of fear.
Fear had paralyzed them all.
But you can’t say ‘No kids at risk’ unless you’re absolutely sure they are not at risk.
Otherwise it’s you inventing stuff to quiet the fear in your heart.
In the days following, school walkouts have happened across the nation in protest.
Bills in congress to deter the harm from guns were proposed and voted down.
And in a National Rifle Association meeting, all the participants agreed that it was profoundly sad to see 21 lives cut short. But no gun controls. Absolutely not.
I am sure that at no time during that meeting, the word fear was mentioned.
And yet it is fear that drives the gun owner to be so enamored of his weapons.
So enamored that they don’t see the bleeding of our nation.

Oscar Valdes oscarvaldes.net medium.com anchor.fm buzzsprout apple and google podcasts

Texas In The Spotlight

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The governor is about to sign a measure approved by the state’s legislature that will allow anyone 21 or older to carry a handgun without a license or the background check and training that went with it. 

Gun lovers are rejoicing. 

Finally, Texans are being allowed to be Texans.

They will be fully able to defend themselves from others intending to harm them.

Finally, freedom from the restrictions imposed by liberals who insist in the absurd notion that we’re all in this together.

Finally, an enlightened Republican legislature, is making it possible for Texans to resolve disputes on the spot. You fire, I fire. 

Finally, Texans can call for the death of dialogue. For the death of words to take the place of bullets.

It has not been an easy journey. Not easy to arrive at the conclusion that being 21 years old gives you the insight to draw your weapon and fire away.

The profound wisdom of homegrown philosophers was thoroughly examined during the exhaustive process to arrive at the momentous decision.

Freedom, yes, finally, freedom for Texans.

No need to worry about the conditions that lead others to despair and to wish to harm others and themselves.

No need to fret over the human deterioration that leads others to devalue their lives and that of others. 

No need to invest in the arduous process of creating better human beings.

Just give them a gun and the matter is settled. The one who draws faster is the one who comes out ahead. Period.

And this is happening in 2021.

This is happening the same year that a Texas hero, Donald Trump, took it upon himself to encourage an assault on the US Capitol because he was angry he hadn’t won the election and how dare the rest of the nation not think like Texans who adore him.

Mind you, Texas has beautiful people, caring and thoughtful, who don’t agree with this decision. But the majority has spoken.

To those who disagree, you can always move out. 

Personally, I will make a point to put the state in my flyover list. Just in case I displease a native who will then draw his weapon.

To the gun lovers I say, please, do not let this hold you back. Work on seceding from the rest of the nation. I, for one, will be glad to let you go.

We could still cooperate on matters of defense and other things. Sure.

But here is what I predict. Soon enough, the rate of shootings of innocent people will start to rise and become the highest in the nation. 

Nothing can take the place of nurturing the ability to think and being more compassionate. 

And it takes hard and patient work.

There is a place for guns in our world, but not to have unrestricted access to them.

I now grieve the loss of Texas from my romantic heart. I had thought of visiting Austin one day, spending time in Dallas, San Antonio, returning to Houston. 

I can think of great Texans I would have liked to meet, like Lyndon Johnson and Barbara Jordan. 

And I am sure there are many others.

For now, though, the lights in Texas are dimming.

May the forces that are working to keep them alive, one day again prevail.

Meanwhile, good luck, Texas.

Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net