No rhyme to the reason

There are times when what we see, hear and read while sitting comfortably our ol’ rocker gives us cause to reflect. Reflection often leads to deflection, which means trying to determine who is to blame for inconceivable evil.

At the top of the “simply cannot understand” list this week are the shootings at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee followed only too soon by multiple deaths when a gunman opened fire at a bank in Louisville, Kentucky.

Six persons were killed at the Presbyterian Church parochial school in Nashville, including three 9-year-old children. At the Louisville bank, five individuals lost their lives. In both incidents, responding police officers killed the shooters. Two officers were wounded in Louisville; one gravely.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen far too many incidents where shootings have occurred that are classified as “mass” shootings, or active shooter incident. That term is defined by the FBI as an event in which one or more individuals are “actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit research database, the number of mass shootings has risen in recent years. That non-profit identifies a mass shooting as one in which four or more persons are killed or injured. 

Those figures show more than 600 mass shootings during each of the past three years, with 146 already reported in 2023 through April 10. And as a famous American military man once said about war casualties, one is too many. 

While everything about this current wave of unspeakable violence is beyond comprehension, a truly disturbing fact is the location of these shootings. Rockefeller Institute of Government stats show nearly 30 percent occur in the workplace and 25 percent at schools. Both are places where people are most vulnerable.

Many industries and large businesses are conducting active shooter drills to help employees know what to do if the worst should happen. School districts across the nation, and right here in our hometown, are taking part in such drills. A recent drill at Minden High School was termed extremely helpful by school administrators and law enforcement.

One Webster Parish administrator said the exercise not only helped students understand the importance of being prepared, it also introduced them to the fact that police officers are more than protectors of the public. They’re friends.

As displayed on video, police officers in Nashville and Louisville ran to the sound of gunfire. Their immediate concern was for the safety of the individuals who found themselves trapped in dire circumstances, and their goal was to stop the shooters, even at the risk of their lives.

Minden and Webster Parish officers would do no less. We should let them know we respect their service, and we should repay their dedication with our assistance when it’s needed. You know…like helping identify the shooters at Ewell Park… those brave souls who fired indiscriminately across crowds of young people gathered to have a good time, not dodge bullets.

As a nation and as a community, we have a responsibility beyond ourselves. We won’t enter the debate over gun control because it is often impossible to understand either side’s reasoning. One wants to blame guns and Republicans for any and all violence. Others believe some want to white-out the Constitution.

Addressing societal issues, such as these shootings, takes time, cooperation and effort more than posturing and pontificating. When opposing sides continually play to their choirs, the sound is a resounding clatter. There is potentially an answer, and it’s in the 332 millions of us (U.S.) who look in the mirror each day. 

We’d rather trust us than the hired hands who forget who we are until it’s time to ask for another free ride. 

 – Pat Culverhouse