Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Don's Tuesday Column

    THE WAY I SEE IT   by Don Polson  Red Bluff Daily News   5/31/2022

Incalculable loss, neglect and evil

Memorial Day recognizes the incalculable loss, to families, communities and America, of young men and a lesser number of young women of all races, regions and religions that died serving their nation in the uniforms of our military. Incalculable due to the infinite time, commitment, emotional devotion and sacrifice of the deceased warriors’ parents, siblings, spouses, children and communities.

Likewise, the lost futures of each service man or woman. Noncombat accidents, training and transport deaths aside, they result from our leaders pursuing our nation’s and allies’ self-defense or vital interests. Marginal or ill-advised military operations take nothing away from the noble sacrifices of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard warriors. They were surely welcomed into God’s embrace and succor in the next life; we owe them our solemn remembrance.

Men and women, of any age or status in life, are untimely taken by accident, unintended neglect or malignant purveyors of wanton destruction and death. This world is rightly said to be the devil’s playground, the realm of evil acts and deeds, for which someone can only be held accountable under law for their crimes after innocents suffer.

When such evil-hearted people set out to do harm—not by passion, carelessness or misadventure, but by planning, organizing and stealthily preparing their deadly deeds—predictable and often disingenuous reactions are non-responsive to the actual events. Blame is often assigned where no such culpability exists; ill-informed partisan followers latch onto emotionally appealing but wholly phony assertions.

We should all agree and continue seeking “common sense” about the pure evil displayed in recent mass shootings. The murderous slaughter of innocent school children involves neither passion, carelessness nor neglect. Prevention and armed, trained response are the only relevant topics.

Sunday was five days after the mass murder of children in Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas; sufficient time for analysis of the law enforcement response. I hold officers beyond high regard, considering the (unwarranted) stigma attached by many to that profession, which dissuades some from serving. Public safety has sadly been disrespected with knee-jerk suspicion of motives and actions even when performed admirably.

Consider a wider view of local law enforcement actions, rather than selective social media recordings of officers under intense pressure: figuring out how many shooters, where located, evacuating children from numerous buildings without losing further lives. Restraint of parents, hysterical or not, may have been prudent, much like holding back those wanting to rush into a burning building to rescue someone. They could die saving no one.

Given 1) The revising of police response to mass shooting events after Columbine, especially after the Parkland high school mass murders—that the least loss of life results when initial officers immediately pursue and attack the shooter; and 2) that Uvalde school district hosted at least two active-shooter training days, including one just two months ago—we can agree that law enforcement blew it.

I assume that leadership issued orders to officers to do just what they did (no fault in following orders) but when it’s revealed that the Border Patrol Tactical unit was restrained by local cops, under orders, as children were being terrorized while making numerous 911 calls for help—fingers righteously get pointed. Children suffered and died while bad, trepidatious decisions by leadership kept cops away from where they were needed. Although they were heroically taking lethal fire from the shooter, initial response failed.

The prevention aspect depends on where you stand; facts, data and truth matter. Irrefutably, criminals are unaffected by gun laws; their families or girlfriends with clean records buy their guns knowing it’s illegal to transfer them to a criminal. Black-market peddlers care not what laws politicians on soapboxes browbeat fellow lawmakers into passing.

Facts: 1) The 1990s “assault weapons ban” had zero effect on crime (Biden lied); most criminals use handguns; more people are murdered with fists, knives and blunt objects than with rifles, assault or not. Banning any type of gun matters not to criminals; only law-abiding people will comply.

2) Expanded, or “universal,” background checks are irrelevant if young adults with juvenile records, or those with mental problems, aren’t in the database. Guns will still find “gang bangers” hands for above reasons.

3) “White supremacists are not the most likely mass murderers,” by John Bock: “Ironically, less than 10% of mass public shootings have any ties at all to white supremacy. And whites commit less than their proportionate number of attacks” (based on 82 mass public shootings from 1/1998 to 5/2021). Those of Middle Eastern origin, 0.4% of the population, carry out 9% of mass public shootings.

4) Only 3 mass school shootings occurred from 1903 to 1966; since 1966, 13 mass shootings. Another analysis counted 14 since 2000; they are infrequent, though tragic.

5) Out of 97 countries with data, the U.S. is 64th in frequency of mass shootings and 65th in murder rate. Most European countries have higher rates, with stricter gun laws. America: 1.15% of the world’s mass shootings but 5% of the world’s population.

6) Strict gun-law states have high murder rates; conversely, low gun-law states have low rates.

7) Armed school resource officers coincide with low shooting incidents and fatalities. “Schools that Allow Teachers to Carry Guns haven’t seen school shootings during school hours” (crimeresearch.org).

Suggestion: Limit gun purchases for 18- to 21-year-olds to those who have a background-check-passing adult “cosign” for their purchase, like they would for a loan. In the military they would be supervised and trained; why not for young civilians? It would’ve stopped the Texas killer.

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