Simple Steps to Stop the Carnage
by Elena Greco
May 28, 2022
Typical reading time: 3 minutes
Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, will never be the same. It was the scene of a brutal school shooting, the most recent of many recent mass shootings in our country. While there are many factors contributing to our country’s complete lack of action to address this heart-breaking problem, the issue is not nearly as complicated as some would have you believe!
And while each of the factors contributing to this shooting and the many others the citizens of our country have suffered should be addressed, there is one that is quite obvious. Yet it is that factor which certain politicians deliberately obfuscate, using ridiculous scare tactics on their constituents—”They’re coming for your guns!” “They want to eliminate the Second Amendment!”—so that they can thumb their nose at the deaths that continue to pile up while they count the contributions they receive from the NRA—and while the NRA continues to spend millions on lobbying to support its self-serving agenda.
Note: There are terms to describe these weapons, such as the AR-15 or AK-47, which are semi-automatic assault-style rifles, but for simplicity’s sake I’ll just refer to them all here as assault weapons—since that is what they are designed for and what they’re used for. These weapons are quite literally designed to kill people and have no other purpose.
The shooter, Salvador Ramos, a resident of Uvalde, Texas, tried to buy an assault weapon last year when he was 17. He was unable to do so due to his age, and so did not kill anyone. He tried again later that year to buy an assault weapon, was once again denied due to being under 18, and so did not kill anyone. In September 2021 he asked his older sister to buy an assault weapon for him; she refused and so he did not kill anyone.
On May 17, 2022, a day after he turned 18, Ramos walked into a local gun store and easily bought an AR-15 assault weapon, since anyone in this country can buy an assault weapon if they’re 18 or older. On May 18 he bought ammunition. On May 20 he bought another assault weapon online. On May 24 he shot 38 people with the clear and stated intent of killing them.
He murdered 19 children and two teachers (and one teacher’s husband died of a heart attack at her memorial service two days later), and shot 17 more people, mostly children, who survived; many are still in the hospital recovering. He is responsible for the death of 22 people, the injuries of 17 more people, and the traumatization of all of the children involved, who will carry this with them so that it affects their lives for years to come, along with the lives of their families who care for them.
Ramos wasn’t able to do what he did until someone sold him an assault rifle once he turned 18. You cannot legally buy a beer in Texas until you’re 21, and if you sell one to anyone under the age of 21, you’re subject to fines and even jail time. Yet an 18-year-old can go to a gun store and buy an assault weapon designed for the sole purpose of killing people, together with ammunition and tactical equipment.
The Buffalo shooter who committed the spree killing at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, just 10 days earlier was also 18 and also used an assault weapon he had recently purchased at a gun store.
Here are the obvious and simple first steps we must take immediately.
1. Raise the age required to purchase a weapon. Regardless of whether you can buy a beer (a different subject, admittedly), or anything else you might use for comparison, the use of deadly equipment should not be allowed or facilitated until a person is fully matured. An 18-year-old certainly shouldn’t be trusted in civilian society with a weapon designed to kill people. If you have dealt with 18‑year‑olds, you will instantly understand this. An 18-year-old’s faculties for logic and grasp of long-term consequences are just not there yet.
2. Ban the sale of assault weapons. No, I didn’t say ban guns! No one wants to take away the handgun you keep in your bedside table for home protection. No one wants to take away the rifle you use for duck hunting. Those are very different things! Please stop conflating assault weapons, which are designed for no purpose other than murdering humans, with other types of guns, or with the right to possess guns. These are not the same! When people start spouting these same illogical lines over and over, it is clear that they’ve been brainwashed so that they’re no longer able to use logic to determine that these things are unrelated. That is no accident. That is exactly what those who profit from their investment in the NRA, or who benefit from the generous contributions made to them by the NRA, want to implant, and they do so by repeating those lines continuously.
3. Pay attention to certain behaviors which indicate a sociopathic or dangerous tendency, such as abusing animals, threatening women, or talking about mass violence, when these are demonstrated by the person themselves, such as posting about them online. There should be a way to report these things that protects the reporter and so that it moves quickly up the chain of review. Since this would entail reporting the poster’s actual words or posts, it is unlikely that false accusations would be made (naturally, any exceptions could be addressed).
Please note: This is not a “mental health” issue! Stop equating “crazy” with “violent”! Most people with so-called “mental health issues” are not violent. But people who torture animals, for example, have a whole different sort of problem. While they often appear totally normal to others in everyday interactions, they often progress to greater violence and are often a danger to society.
Ramos had frequently made posts of himself abusing or torturing animals, threatening to kidnap and rape girls, and threatening to commit a school shooting, apparently on the Yubo app. This had been reported to Yubo, but they did nothing. He also began to post images of assault rifles on Instagram shortly before his murderous spree.
I believe the key to addressing this urgent issue is to simplify it, and to address each factor separately. Most of all, it requires logic and not an emotional, knee-jerk reaction. It is hard not be emotional about scores of children being murdered … but we must focus on logic and simple, doable action. Otherwise, I’m afraid this will just continue to happen because we can’t stop arguing long enough to get anything at all accomplished.
So let’s take these three actions now!