Dealing with the Tragedy in Uvalde

It is so hard to see the 19 young innocent lives taken in this tragedy. How to make peace with the situation so that it does not happen again?

Not knowing what the motivation was, one looks at the fact that it was a school. Perhaps this was a frustration at a lack of access to education? I looked at those communities where education disparities are enormous in our country and sent a donation for summer school supplies to children that might otherwise drop out. As if money could solve the problem. Social barriers are also significant. Bullying. Lack of access to mental health. How is it that a young boy could drop out of school and not have mental health support?

And then there is the seemingly close temporal and spatial proximity to the NRA convention. Did someone want us to rethink gun laws? In the context of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, one realizes that even a very stable superpower like Russia can destabilize and induce conflicts that could otherwise have been prevented. The fact that the Russians are armed with nuclear weapons is disconcerting given that they have threatened to use them.

We are funding a massive armament of Ukrainians to fight the Russians, and the fighting has grown so intense that now, the Ukrainians can’t stop with what would otherwise have been a pretty awesome deal when Kiev was under siege. They want it all. It seems to me that when people have invested so many lives in a conflict, that some compromise is needed. The Russians need to save face or we will have reactionary crises like WWII.

The more I think about the Uvalde tragedy, the more I wonder whether the crisis happened precisely because a young Spanish-speaking boy dropped out of school and hence off of the radar. One doesn’t know for sure that there wasn’t an attempt to address his phone message threat by getting the car off of the road i.e. was he really the one who crashed his own (or probably his family’s?) car? If so, why could the same satellite intervention not disable his weapons and lock the school? Was there a hostage situation at the border, or a possible retaliation for the children that were held in detention camps at the border? An angry young man (possibly being deported) who wanted to fight. If he wasn’t picked up by one group, another one would want him.

The police response seemingly bordered on civil disobedience along the lines of response to “defund the police”. Our top executive seems to think more law enforcement is the answer. I wonder how much surveillance was already at the border which is pretty militarized.

Universal background checks are a serious pathway to political oppression of groups that want to defend themselves. Bringing up the Ukrainian-Russian conflict again, one wants a certain level of ability to defend, and a universal “switch” is probably too easily flipped by oppressors once they get power. Most people probably want to feel safe, and for a large population (particularly in rural remote areas), they feel safer with a gun. The counter argument to this is the risk of insurgencies like the Capitol riot. One defends against that by not having presidents who lack experience with political process (i.e. not a governor, not a senator or a congressman). That said, I do think our country was “overdue” for a political outsider to challenge the status quo. That done, we don’t need another insurrection.

One gun control limit I can surely agree with is that an unemployed (?) 18 year old who buys a machine gun (with what money? they cost about $800, and he not only had 2, but he also apparently had another gun that only fired once at his grandmother) needs more surveillance after the purchase than your average Joe. Perhaps on the order of needing to check out and use a weapon in the presence of an older adult for 3 years. Some kind of sponsored ownership where training in the proper safety and maintenance of weapons would be provided. Would this be a check to implement on all adults who purchase assault weapons or indeed any guns? Of course, we have to think about militaries then, and the young men who kill children in remote countries.

It is sad to know that someone has been so injured that he would take the lives of young children. I still think supervision is generally a much better response in terms of new legislation rather than labeling, where the level of detail and scrutiny needed to be accurate is enormous. Guns should definitely be withdrawn or withheld in certain cases and locations, though. It is interesting to note that I am quite unique in my peer group of nonviolent intellectuals in my support of gun rights. My reason for this is that there are many different abilities besides guns that could also be legislated – including the ability to learn. In a broader context, or more generally, I don’t support limits imposed by others on one’s freedoms (except the obvious freedoms of privacy, property, and respect for person and the environment), when they may affect one’s ability to protect oneself, one’s family, or one’s community. These questions, though, are highly context dependent, and influenced by personal history, and thus probably shouldn’t be legislated for long periods of time (up for periodic review). I am sure that East Europeans feel differently today than they did 1 year ago.

People overall probably need to feel that the system is working, or has the ability to work, for them. If their power doesn’t derive from belonging, then some may want the feeling of individual power that comes with weapons ownership. We need to work on more flexible systems where people can belong, and have influence short of needing or wanting to use force.

Our sin is one of exclusion, and of failure to heal hurt. How does one re-stabilize after our consciousness has been shocked by behavior that was never anticipated? I don’t think absolutes are the answer. Connectedness is. One hand holding another hand that will tolerate it until we are all connected in a way that does not make us want to destroy one another.

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