The other night I was awoken at 3:30 a.m. by a loud clap of thunder.
In this part of Houston, getting awakened in the middle of the night by a storm is nothing new. Based on weather patterns, most of the bad weather that arrives here comes in like a thief in the night.
What is odd about this latest bit of overnight extreme weather, is the fact that it seemed to come out of nowhere and just sort of formed without warning.
As I sat in bed listening to the storm, I thought to myself that it will likely become more frequent that random storms just pop up in the middle of the night.
Scientists will say that the rise in extreme weather, like more frequent hurricanes and tornadoes, is the result of global warming and climate change.
I agree with that assessment. I also believe that more should be done to address climate change to ensure that we do not turn the only planet with a habitable atmosphere into a stormy terrarium where only cold blooded creatures and aquatic life can live.
Those who do not believe in science will say that there is no correlation between more extreme weather and global warming.
The reasons for denying the facts can be both economical and political in nature. The reasons usually are the result of a selfish need on the part of the person who is denying the facts that are getting increasingly harder to ignore.
As I continued to sit in bed as the storm raged, and now fully awake with no chance of drifting back to sleep any time soon, my thoughts went from extreme weather, to extreme acts of gun violence as yet another mass shooting took place in a school earlier that day.
When I first heard about the shooting at a private school in Nashville, my first thought was, how does this keep happening?
Then, while sitting in bed listening to the storm that came out of thin air, I thought to myself, in many cases, the same people who deny that global warming is real are the ones who do not think that America has a mass shooting problem.
I will never understand how someone who sees entire towns wiped out by more frequent tornadoes, and elementary school children and their teachers getting killed by assault rifles can think that either occurrence is normal, and not something that should be addressed with the full power of the private and public sector.
Extreme weather events, and mass shootings each tear communities apart and leave lasting physical and emotional scars among the survivors.
Following the latest shooting in Nashville, many lawmakers recycled some of the talking points that emerge after every mass shooting.
The tropes of “lone wolf,” “mental illness,” and “unsecured school” filled the airwaves as politicians made themselves into human pretzels twisting and turning their words while trying to balance the needs of their big gun lobby donors with the hurt felt by average citizens.
As I always point out during my way too frequent columns after a mass shooting, I am not advocating for a repeal of the Second Amendment, or saying the answer to solving the issue of mass shootings is to take away all guns.
What I am saying, is I refuse to believe that nothing can be done to eliminate mass shootings, which as noted before, seems to be an uniquely American problem.
One particular talking point that disgusted me the most was an elected official from Tennessee who, after being asked why gun violence seemed to mostly only occur in America, said that part of price of our freedom as Americans was that we had to accept that mass shootings were just a part of life, since in order for us to be free, we have to let some people abuse that freedom in the form of gun violence.
With all due respect to the lawmaker, I refuse to accept that part of living in a democracy means that people are free to gun down people.
I also refuse to believe the narrative that the key to stopping gun violence is to turn schools into impenetrable fortresses. As shown by the various other places where a gunman has taken lives like houses of worship, movie theaters and grocery stores, a mass shooting can happen anywhere.
The shooting in Nashville also shows that locked doors can be shot through in order to gain entrance. This fact, blows to shreds the whole locked doors stop mass shootings narrative even further.
Furthermore, even if a locked door could stop a mass shooter, it would be impossible to reinforce every soft target, or to think that an armed good guy with a gun will always stop the bad guy with a gun.
To be clear, there is no way that the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms will ever be stricken from the United States Constitution. Although, one should really stop to consider whether the right to bear dozens of high-powered assault rifles is really what the founding fathers had in mind when they were amending the Constitution.
For a bit of context, here is the exact wording of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
There is a huge difference between ensuring that citizens can protect their families and property in case the British decided to invade the colonies again, as was the basis for the Second Amendment, versus using it as a jumping off point to say that there should be no regulations nor permits for the type of arms one can bear.
Instead of tightening laws, in many states, it is being made easier to own and carry firearms out in public.
For the majority of gun owners that is not an issue.
Most gun owners use their guns responsibly.
Most gun owners surveyed want stricter controls on who can own guns.
As noted in many of the columns I have written about mass shootings, I am forever thankful that mass shootings in schools were not something that I had to worry about when I was in school.
There is hardly enough time in the school day for teachers to cover all of the subjects that students should learn without having to practice active shooter drills.
My entire life, I have heard how the United States of America is the most powerful country in the world.
I do believe that there is a lot of truth to that statement. I also believe that will great power, comes great responsibility.
That responsibility includes ensuring that children can learn in a safe environment, and that to every extent possible, everything is done to slow, it not reverse, the impacts of climate change.
As the old saying goes, it is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time. There is no reason why the aforementioned most powerful country in the world cannot address both climate change and gun violence at the same time.
In the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy challenged America to reach for the stars and land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
Many scoffed at the “moonshot” speech. Yet, in July of 1969, human footprints were placed on the lunar surface in response to that quest to “go to the moon and do the other things.”
As the president said at the time, the goal to go to the moon was chosen, “not because it was easy, but because it was hard.”
Tackling climate change and the wholly American problem of gun violence will certainly not be easy.
However, it is time for the elected officials and common citizens alike to unite for a 21st Century Moonshot to curb climate change.
Additionally,, it is time to find common sense solutions to addressing gun violence and mass shootings.
Due to geography, I may never be able to fully prevent thunder from waking me up in the wee hours of the morning.
However, I would love to have a night where I was not holding back tears due to watching news coverage of another mass shooting.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to take a nap since I really did not get much sleep last night.
Copyright 2023 R. Anderson