This time, the school shooter did not use an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to slaughter his classmates. That must be quite a relief to gun lovers.
This killer’s weapons of choice were a shotgun and a .38-caliber handgun — two of the most common firearms available. What more proof do we need, gun lovers will ask, that the problem isn’t with guns but rather with people?
The folks on Capitol Hill might rest easy too. Seventeen-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis did not obtain the guns illegally through some loophole in the law, authorities said. The guns he allegedly used to kill nine students and a teacher at Santa Fe High School in Texas belonged to his father, who purchased them though the appropriate channels, authorities said.
For that reason, lawmakers who have steadfastly opposed all efforts to ban assault weapons, strengthen background checks or tighten licensing requirements probably didn’t feel too hypocritical by sending out their “thoughts and prayers.”
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The fact that Pagourtzis allegedly had a cache of homemade bombs hidden underneath his black trenchcoat — and others stashed away both inside and outside the school — might seem to illustrate what gun lovers have been preaching for years: Even if these mass killers didn’t have a high-powered rifle, they’d find other ways to carry out a massacre. This is just the ammunition they’ve been waiting for to circumvent the real issues.
With so many mass shootings in schools and other public places, there is no question that gun lovers have been feeling as though they are under attack. They have tried their best to fend off arguments by the rest of the country that every gun is not protected under the Second Amendment. With so many people dying, we desperately need them to wake up and join us in the struggle to keep our children safe. Only then will politicians feel secure enough to take action.
We cannot let them off the hook. Guns in general, and semi-automatic rifles in particular, remain the greatest threat to safety in America.
Pagourtzis might not have been armed with a high-powered weapon when he allegedly entered that classroom Friday, but gun laws are so lax in Texas that he certainly could easily have gotten his hands on one. In fact, he could have walked down the street with an AR-15 strapped to his shoulder and likely no one would have thought it was odd.
If anything, the shooting exemplifies what anti-gun advocates in cities like Chicago have been saying too. It is far too easy for a legal gun to turn into an illegal gun.
While the process used in Chicago to get guns into the hands of criminals is far more complex than perhaps a teenager going into his dad’s closet and removing it from a shelf, the end result is the same. Innocent people end up dead.
Most guns used in murders on the streets of Chicago were initially purchased legally, according to authorities. But all too often, they are then sold illegally to a kid who uses it to shoot down another kid holding her mother’s hand as they walk to the park.
We are accustomed to politicians promising to do something about the carnage taking place across this country. Whether there is shooting at a school in Texas, or on a sidewalk in Chicago, everyone agrees that it must end. But when it comes down to figuring it out, the opposing sides can’t agree. Meanwhile, our children keep on dying.
Many of us barely flinched when we initially heard about this latest shooting in Texas. We all knew that it would only be a matter of time before another teenager would walk into a school and open fire on his classmates. That has become inevitable in our country.
But as information trickled out, it soon became clear that this was not another run-of-the-mill school shooting. Though the death toll was comparatively lower than others, this one was more complex, more foreboding.
In the final weeks of class before the summer break, a young man had not just spent his time sorting out in his head how he would take down as many people as he could — he was also allegedly building pipe bombs and pressure cooker devices.
The typical school shooter had evolved into someone much more sinister.
If we have learned anything through the years of violence in Chicago, it is that shootings don’t just stop on their own. They become more horrific.
Incarceration does not curtail them either. For every person who is thrown into jail in Chicago, it seems there is another waiting in line to take over. The same is true with mass shooters.
For more than 20 years, we have allowed these murders to go on. We know there is no need for the average American to legally own an assault weapon. But our elected officials are proven cowards.
So on the afternoon of the school shooting in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott appeared before the public and had only this to offer — the promise of a roundtable discussion.
“Beginning immediately, I’m going to be working with members of the Texas Legislature, but also with members of our communities from across the state of Texas to begin with roundtable discussions beginning next week where we will assemble all stakeholders to begin to work immediately on swift solutions to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again,” Abbott said at a news conference. He added, though, that it was important to protect Second Amendment rights.
How many times have we heard that?
Gun lovers hope we will grow tired of fighting without ever getting any results. They want us to stop pestering lawmakers to step up to their responsibilities. They want us to give up our fight to ban assault weapons.
They would love for us to just shut our eyes and wish these tragedies away. But we can’t and we won’t.
Whether the next gunman is armed with an assault weapon or shotgun, we are determined to keep fighting. Gun lovers can either join in with us or continue to be enablers for these crazed gunmen who stalk our children.