Texas and the country are still in shock from another horrific story of a young man – a boy really — who morphed into killer. The left is still pushing the same old simplistic answers, while the rest of us assess what went wrong and how we can finally stop it from happening again.
In times like this it is never clear whether the media pushes the left’s view or the left echoes them, but in Texas they go into their rote anti-Texan attack blaming the majority in the state who vote conservative without ever seriously examining their own role in sensationalizing mass shootings. We have known since 2000 that the coverage of mass shootings increases the likelihood of more mass shootings. Mass killers quickly become more well-known than movie stars. It is one of the few paths young people have to become immediately famous even after they are dead. As expected, at least a dozen mass shootings, presumed to be copy-cat shootings, involving four or more victims – have occurred since Uvalde. A few media outlets don’t report mass shooters’ names, but we didn’t see much of that in the case of Uvalde.
Uvalde families have had it with the media. They have blocked journalists from attending the funerals of their children and family members and after two weeks of the small town residents being hounded by reporters at every step, outside police have been called in to protect the privacy of families burying their children. The media is outraged insisting that police are attempting to “intimidate, harass and impede” their work. No concern was expressed about how the people of Uvalde might feel after having their small town taken over by the massive media camped out in tents and sound trucks trying to get a shot of something new, turning memorials into a staging area.
Which is not to suggest that reining in the media would eliminate mass shootings, but because the press takes such a self-righteous stance in echoing the simplistic answers of the left, it should be pointed out that they have their own work too.
For the left there is only one answer, increased gun restrictions. President Joe Biden came back immediately with an assault weapon ban, even though it did nothing to reduce gun violence the decade it was in place and gun violence did not increase when it was lifted. He knows it won’t pass but he put it on the table because he thinks it might help Democrats in the mid-terms.
After Uvalde, when Governor Greg Abbott pointed out that that 10 days before the school shooting, an 18 year old killed 10 people in Buffalo, New York, a state that has some of the most rigid gun control laws in the country, few reporters – none in Texas – seriously examined Abbott’s assertion. No one asked, “If it didn’t work in New York, why do we think it will work here?”
In Robert Francis O’Rourke’s carefully choreographed campaign stunt the day after the shooting, he pointed to Governor Abbott and said glibly, “this is all on you.”
That’s another easy answer. So if we never want a school shooting in Texas again, we should vote for O’Rourke? I doubt if even Democrats believe that.
Most people in both parties know there is no single answer to this horrible problem. Although President Biden doesn’t believe in hardening schools, most people know that school buildings must be retrofitted so that there are fewer entrances and, as we painfully learned in Uvalde, when outside doors are closed they must lock.
However, recall how the media ridiculed Lt. Governor Dan Patrick in the aftermath of the Santa Fe school shooting when he said that there were too many open doors into schools.
“Guns don’t kill people, doors do,” they laughed. Patrick pushed forward anyway, to make sure Texas schools had access to funds for doors that lock automatically when they are closed. Millions were appropriated to cover the cost. Unfortunately, Uvalde had not utilized that funding at Robb Elementary and the shooter entered the building through an unlocked door.
Everyone also agrees that aggressive mental health strategies are needed to address this issue as we try to figure out how to identify a kid before he turns into a killer.
Texas spends almost $9 billion on mental health per biennium and in 2019 nearly $100 million was added for the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium to address children’s mental health needs across the state including teen suicide and school shootings. The most recent state budget includes $232 million for that consortium.
Experts have ideas about how to target mental health resources but they must navigate through the distorted values the left has perpetrated on our culture, which often normalizes the anti-social behavior that too frequently emerges from damaged families, even when it is a warning sign that something terrible is going on inside a kid.
The Uvalde shooter had recently developed serious anger issues, he was cutting his face, driving around shooting people with a BB gun and enjoyed hurting animals – classic warning signs of a serious problem. At least one parent told his son to stay away from Ramos, because, “You never know.” Still, no one took him to a clinic because no one was there for him. Mental health resources are critical, but they are not the only answer.
Some believe it is public schools themselves, where current teaching philosophy is based on moral subjectivism and group think that engenders rage and sets teenage boys adrift. Black Lives Matter launched a program for schools earlier this year and said one of their goals is to “disrupt the Western nuclear family structure.” If they achieve that goal, we can expect more shootings.
Despite what BLM and the left believe, the profile of the Uvalde shooter makes it clear that parents matter. News reports indicate that Ramos’ mother had serious drug issues and both she, his father and his grandfather have criminal records. His parents did not live together and it is not clear from news reports whether they were ever married. Ramos moved between his mother, grandmother and father. His sister had left home.
In the past couple weeks we have seen the people of Uvalde gathered in all kinds of churches to pray and bury their loved ones, but there is no indication that the shooter or his relatives were connected to a faith community or attended church.
Experts insist there is no correlation between violent video games and mass shootings. The attitude seems to be that because they are ubiquitous and there’s nothing we can do about them, we should just ignore them instead of trying to figure out why some kids who stare at screens all day virtually shooting people go out in the real world and do the same thing — like both the Uvalde and Buffalo shooters did — and others do not. That’s not an easy question to answer and we only seem to be looking for easy answers.
We will not be able to end mass shootings until we stop battling this like the culture war and instead make a commitment to fight on every front, starting with identifying all the factors that are turning young men like the Uvalde shooter into a cold-blooded killers. It won’t be easy.