So… What About the Children? Are We Following the Trail that Gun Violence Leaves Behind?

My father had a deer rifle and a pistol, but we never knew where they were kept. There was an unspoken sense that if someone broke into the house, he’d likely shoot them, but gun violence in a broader context was not really on our minds.

So… What About the Children? Are We Following the Trail that Gun Violence Leaves Behind?
Photo by Jose Alonso on Unsplash

I grew up ducking under desks as practice for an air raid. We never thought it would happen because we never saw one. Today’s parents and children see schools attacked by persons armed with weapons of war and no regard for human life. The elected officials who refuse to restrict access have armed these killers. And no amount of ducking under desks, empty thoughts and prayers, or arming teachers will change that.

We need to get there because the scars of violence for those who survive school attacks (think about that… “school attacks”) run deep.

Where we stand today

The most recent statistics of mass shootings, defined as those in which at least four people are killed, are compiled by the Gun Violence Archive and show an escalation in mass shootings and an increase in the number of children killed by gun violence. The Gun Violence Archive collects data from more than 7500 law enforcement agencies, the media, the government, and other commercial sources.

Source: Gun Violence Archive.

Texas and the law of avoidance

CNNs Zachary B. Wolf wrote an analysis of Governor Greg Abbott’s gun law avoidance strategy. The most powerful part of it for me was a quote from a Second Amendment supporter and gun owner who had pulled a bloody child from under a dead adult after the Allen, Texas mall shooting. Steven Spainhouer said, “I hear our governor talking about mental health issues . . . We’re always going to have mental health issues. But if we don’t do something about the guns, the people-killing guns, then we’re going to continue to have the same thing happen.” That used to be the definition of insanity.

Whether it’s to protect their contributions from NRA sponsors, appeal to extremist voters, or to arm-up those extremists for a civil war, these ne’re do well politicians are killing children-----as much as if they pulled the triggers themselves.

The gun violence effect

“Since Columbine in 1999, more than 338,000 students in the U.S. have experienced gun violence at school.” (The Sandy Hook Promise)

A survivor of the Parkland, Florida school shooting in which 17 were killed tells the story of how she hid under a classmate’s body. She keeps his picture in her mobile phone. She’s told her story to members of Congress and other groups and explains that being a regular teen ended for her that day. Even today when going out with friends, she checks for the location of exits and determines how she would escape in the event of a shooter.

A survivor of the Santa Fe, Texas school shooting where 10 died and 13 were injured describes how his life has changed permanently. He was shot six times, and while he survived, he was left with post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. He is unable to attend sporting events or tolerate large crowds. He lives in constant fear and watches his back.

These tragedies are changing us…all of us. I spent my adult life against the death penalty knowing how laden with injustice and bias our court systems tend to be…but today, I want those who kill to be killed, exterminated like rats in the basement of a house. The anger and passion that wells inside is unfamiliar to me and I’m a fully developed and somewhat mentally healthy adult. Imagine the rage, fear, and anger harbored by a child when exposed to the sound of firearms, the images of dead friends, and even talk of protecting their schools from murderous fools with assault weapons. Who in the f….k needs assault weapons at home? Or in a community of neighbors?

Children may experience depression, thoughts of suicide, thoughts of aggression and of committing violent acts themselves when exposed to gun violence and a violent society. According to the Child Welfare League of America, a cycle of violence starts when children and youth observe and embrace negative adult behaviors and eventually, model those behaviors in interactions with their own children.

So not only are the politicians who refuse to address this epidemic ensuring huge segments of our future generations will be scarred, potentially violent humans, they are also stained with the blood of those children who will not live to see adulthood.

Thanks to this group of politicians America carries the dubious distinction of being the country that tops the world in gun violence. Data from the National Institute of Health reports that 87 percent of all children killed by firearms in high-income countries are from the United States.

The majority of Americans are saying, enough is enough. A Gallop poll from earlier this year found that Americans’ dissatisfaction with gun laws rose to 63 percent, a seven-point increase in 2023 over last year. As politicians on the right battle common sense gun restrictions, people in this country are left to reconsider attending concerts, shopping malls, restaurants, and sadly, schools. There is no duck-and-cover exercise we can practice to hide from assault weapons.

I’m confused. How can the gun-obsessed misusers of the Second Amendment who tout their right to bear arms, ignore the deaths of innocent children and their right to life?

Myra Jolivet is a storyteller. First a TV news anchor and reporter. Then came PR work and consulting. That's where she is today - banging her head against the wall - trying to help CEOs and political candidates tell their stories well. Myra writes a series of murder mysteries She was a kid with an imaginary friend. That says it all.