CARROLL: Columnist wants solution to school shootings

A few days ago I tried watching one of the network’s nightly newscasts. After the first two minutes (the “tease” period, where they try to get your attention), I was exhausted.

The main stories, in no particular order, were: High gas prices, out of control. Galloping inflation. Reduction of 401K. The COVID numbers are rising again. The threat of monkeypox. Ten people have been killed in a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Russia continued to hit Ukraine, while China opposed Taiwan. The abortion battle rages on. Moms can’t find formula for their babies. Border crossings continue to raise concerns. Restaurants are closing because they can’t find anyone to work.

My dinnertime appetite was suddenly replaced by the desire to take a long nap. I was exhausted. It seemed like there were 99 problems, and I had no solutions.

Then I saw again a few days later. All of these stories had faded into the background, not even worth mentioning.

The mass shooting at a Texas elementary school dominated the news. At least 19 angelic and happy children are mourned by family, friends and an entire nation. Like most of you, I have no words, and certainly no answers. While it really could have happened anywhere, too many people outside of a one-mile radius around the school decided to turn someone else’s tragedy into political football.

Anger-provoking cable opinion channels have kicked into high gear. Politicians and so-called journalists have started spreading false information, a sad by-product of the social media wasteland. Their slogan seems to be: “Don’t take the time to check for accuracy. If this fits our story, let’s shout it from the rooftops.

The blame game started within minutes. “It’s the NRA’s fault.” “The Democrats did it by encouraging division.” “The gun lobby has blood on its hands.” “Trump and his followers have fanned the flames.” “All of these mass shootings are happening on Biden’s watch.” “It’s not the guns, it’s the lunatics.” “Don’t blame the gun owners, we’re the good guys.” “Fake news has done this by publicizing and glorifying acts of violence.” “It’s because of the violent games, music and movies young people are exposed to.” “Why is Congress doing nothing?”

My friend Mike Crowder posted a profound suggestion on Facebook: “Imagine what you would want to do if this happened at the elementary school your kids or grandkids attend. Anyway, do it.

I know a number of retired directors and communicate with them often by phone and text. Middle and high school principals all say the same thing: “I was worried about something like this happening in my school every day.” One told me, “Every night I got down on my knees and thanked the Lord that my school didn’t become the last Columbine, Sandy Hook or Parkland.

Now we have to add Robb Elementary to this sad and growing list. My main elementary friends confess that they rarely worried about a drama of this magnitude. At these schools, the days are mostly filled with children cuddling, parents volunteering, and teachers who can report everyone’s whereabouts at any time.

The aforementioned school shootings have resulted in heightened security at all schools. Even the quiet elementary schools in my hometown no longer have locked doors or easy access. You must enter, explain why you are there and show your ID before approaching a child. Even then, there are tense moments.

Recently, I saw one with my own eyes. I was filming a promotional ad outside an elementary school, using the entrance as a backdrop from about 50 yards away. During the afternoon break, a man got out of his car and confronted the woman parked in front of him. Their argument became loud, almost physical, and had the potential to turn violent. The principal, a petite young woman in her first grade, calmly separated them and later told me that they had just returned from a custody battle.

In the middle of it all was an innocent child, much like the children we lost in Texas. This is the world we leave to them, and I wish I could fix it.

David Carroll is a news anchor and author in Chattanooga. You can contact him at [email protected]

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