Editorials

Mass shootings like Santa Fe reopen families' old wounds

Two women pray outside the family reunification site following a shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas on May 18.
Two women pray outside the family reunification site following a shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas on May 18. Galveston County Daily News via AP

Here we are again, in the wake of yet another mass shooting, this one in deep red Texas at Santa Fe High School. Ten people, most of whom were students, were killed by another student.

Here we are again, in the wake of yet another mass shooting, debating gun control and the role of the Second Amendment in 21st century America in the only developed nation that suffers so much daily gun violence and so many other days like Santa Fe and Parkland and Orlando.

Here we are again, in the wake of yet another mass shooting, knowing those we’ve elected to solve such problems are more likely to offer up thoughts and prayers than ideas and politically courageous votes that tackle the most glaring part of the problem: guns.

Such tragedies have impact on us all, but perhaps none as much as loved ones of those killed in previous mass shootings. It’s why Marjorie McIver of Conway, S.C., experienced an uneasy weekend after watching reports about Santa Fe. Her sister, Myra Thompson, was among the nine people killed by Dylann Roof during a Bible study at Emanuel A.M.E. in Charleston. She’s exasperated.

“It keeps happening, and they keep doing nothing about it,” she said.

It cuts a little deeper, McIver said, every time she sees another political ad in which politicians are quicker to brandish a gun than propose a serious plan to reduce gun violence. A TV ad by South Carolina gubernatorial hopeful Catherine Templeton has been a particularly tough gut punch. In it, Templeton is shown using a pistol to figuratively kill a snake before saying to the camera: “We can't shoot the snakes slithering around Columbia. But we will end their poisonous, big-government ways."

For Templeton, it’s a cute way to allude to family values and her staunch support for gun rights; her granddaddy gave her a gun to shoot snakes around the house. For McIver, it conjures up images of her sister and other victims such as Clementa C. Pinckney, who was serving in the South Carolina Senate when he was murdered by Roof.

It’s not just a debate to those who’ve experienced gun violence. They appreciate the thoughts and prayers, which help them through the darkest moments. But they’ve grown frustrated because those thoughts and prayers have become a substitute for the kind of action that might reduce the chance that other families will feel what they’ve felt, what they must endure every time reports of yet another high-profile shooting floods their TV screens and radio airwaves.

They don’t want politicians to use such incidents to find a new way to pledge allegiance to the National Rifle Association. Instead, they are looking for leaders to help the country through a slow-rolling epidemic, one that has claimed nearly 175,000 lives since Sandy Hook, and so many other kinds of victims, as well.

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