Maybe Gov. Jay Inslee is too distracted by presidential dreamin’. But he’s missing a golden chance to show desperately needed urgency and action on the issue of school shootings.
Question from a reader: “So, where are you placing the blame this time around?”
Answer: The guns. After every mass school shooting, it’s true, I hardheadedly fixate on the tool that happened to be used to carry out the mass shooting.
It’s not because I hate guns. It’s just that there’s a blindingly obvious common denominator to all the school massacres.
Yet we treat it as some unfathomable mystery. What could it be? Bad parenting. Violent video games. It must be mental health. Or the irresponsible media.
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High-school kids here are 82 times more likely to die from a gun homicide than teens in the rest of the developed world.
Maybe that’s because there aren’t enough guns in our schools! Or maybe, as the Texas lieutenant governor concluded this week in a painfully wide straddle between his base and reality, it must be because of … abortion.
This is mass delusion, of not seeing what’s right in front of one’s nose. It would be funny if it wasn’t such a deadly strain of denial.
All that said, and in the interests of searching for common ground, I would like to say that I stand firmly with the gun-loving Republicans who are calling for Gov. Jay Inslee to hold an emergency special session this summer of our state Legislature to address “school safety.”
Wait … Republicans?
“We’re past the point of just offering thoughts and prayers when attacks on public schools happen,” wrote Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, in a Facebook post. “We need to take action to secure our schools. Make sure they’re not soft targets any longer.”
Yes, this is a bit of a political stunt. Walsh wants to allow the arming of teachers, which has no chance of passing the Democrat-controlled Legislature. But Sen. John Braun, R- Centralia, also urged a special session after the Texas shooting, in his case to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into mental-health treatment.
Sure they’re studiously avoiding the obvious. But why not take them up on it anyway?
This is a full-blown crisis, and not just a public safety one. As I wrote in my last column, school kids now sense that adults have gone completely AWOL on them.
“In the land of the gun, they know they’re on their own,” I wrote. “I wonder what’s the psychological effect of being abandoned like that?”
So how about proving to the kids of this state that they aren’t just doomed to more massacres? Governor Inslee, tackling this would be a far bigger boost to your presidential dreams than giving some progressive stemwinder in Iowa.
Braun is right that mental-health services need some help. That would be true even without the rash of school shootings.
A special session could also fully fund the school resource-officer program. I may be a liberal softy on guns, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling some sense of relief that my kids’ high school has a trained, armed police officer on duty.
Finally, yes, it’s the guns. To be specific, it’s the easy access to guns by people who shouldn’t have them. So pass a mandatory gun storage law.
Most guns used in school shootings come from the home. Given our state’s well-documented history of this, as well as toddlers shooting themselves, it’s a scandal of neglect that lawmakers haven’t forced gun owners to lock up their guns.
This gets at something simpler than the elusive causes of the shootings. It’s how to keep kids and guns apart. If you leave a gun out and a kid under the age of 18 gets it, then you may be guilty of “community endangerment.” The charge wouldn’t apply if the gun was trigger-locked, or stolen during a break-in.
If lawmakers fail to pass this, well then there’s gun-control Initiative 1639 cued up so citizens can do it themselves.
The News Tribune of Tacoma pooh-poohed the idea of a crisis meeting of lawmakers: “In the end, we predict it would do little but spotlight the Legislature’s failure to act on key gun-safety bills.”
So? Spotlight away! Lawmakers have quietly failed school kids now for years, but they’ve done it weaselly, by ducking, dodging and never taking a vote.
If all that happens is they stand in the well and fail the kids again right before an election, well at least then the public would know who to vote out.