The tragic school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas last week was the 22nd school shooting of 2018.
We are barely passed the five-month mark, which means we have averaged about one school shooting a week since the beginning of this year. In fact, there are reports that this year, deaths in school shootings have surpassed deaths in the military.
Let’s think about that for a moment. For this year, it has become more dangerous to send our kids to school than to send them to our armed forces, where at least families know the risks, and that those risks are in defense of our country.
As usual, the clear lines of the debate were drawn the moment news broke of this tragic event. Proponents of stricter gun safely laws immediately regretted the inability of our country’s lawmakers to pass anything meaningful that would prevent these tragedies.
The opponents of any additional gun safely legislation, predicting an onslaught of pressure from gun-safety advocates, started blaming everything and everyone except excessive gun ownership and lax Texas laws surrounding it for the horrid occurrence.
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick blamed violent video games for the perpetrator’s behavior. National Rifle Association (NRA) incoming President Oliver North also blamed TV and video game violence and even Ritalin for the cause of these kinds of tragedies.
The bottom line is this: When will we collectively say, enough is enough? To the die-hard defenders of the Second Amendment, I ask, what are you willing to have happen to ensure this never happens again?
We are at a point where we know deep in our hearts that it is only a matter of time until we see the flash of breaking news alerts coming across our screens that another school shooting has occurred and American children have died.
Does the NRA have that much of a hold on our elected leaders that they are putting their interests above the lives of our children? It appears so.
NRA spokespeople and opponents of any new gun laws have argued that nothing that gun safety advocates have fought for would have prevented the horror in Santa Fe. I disagree. I think this event does not curtail the gun safety law debate, it expands it.
So what if the shooter did not use an assault weapon like the one used in the Parkland shooting? It does not mean that banning assault weapons won’t prevent the next massive school shooting.
It still remains a fact that assault weapons are the weapons of choice for perpetrators looking to inflict as much harm and loss of life as possible.
What about the Santa Fe school shooting? The shooter used a shotgun after all. This is where the debate can expand. From what we know, the shooter had access to his father’s guns, which had reportedly been acquired legally. But in fact, the shooter was not legally allowed to possess them because he was underage.
So why don’t we hold the adults who own these weapons accountable? It is because of them that their children have access, either by affirmative permission or plain negligence.
This seems to be a common-sense concept that we use with other dangerous objects that are not supposed to be in the hands of minors, such as liquor or cars.
By making adults who own guns more cognizant of where and how they store their firearms and ensure they remain out of reach of children, we actually strengthen the Second Amendment by underscoring the importance of responsible gun ownership.
Many sensible gun safety measures remain on the table that majorities of Americans support:
- universal background checks;
- more comprehensive mental-health approaches;
- keeping guns away from known domestic abusers;
- keeping guns away from those on the no-fly list;
- banning assault weapons;
- banning high-capacity magazines; and
- banning bump stocks.
But the NRA will fight doggedly against any changes in gun laws, especially if it means greater restrictions to guns for anyone. They argue that additional laws will not sway criminals from doing harm.
But if that is the logic we should follow, then it stands to reason that we should have no laws at all. After all, bad people will do bad things anyway. Is this what the NRA is advocating?
The reality is that nothing will change until we change something. There is a painful correlation between the amount of guns, the easy access to them and the disconcerting number of gun deaths we suffer each year, as compared to other developed nations.
When will we wake up to that fact?
Parents should not be put in a position to send their kids to school each morning under the same conditions that parents of military personnel understand all too well — that they could lose their life at any second — but at least if they do, it will have been in the service of their country.
When kids die in school, it is in the service of an obsessive gun culture controlled and dictated by gun interests and the politicians they have in their pockets.
Enough is enough. America’s children and their families deserve better.
Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.