Seeking solutions in a world of violence

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I suppose it was only a matter of time before it happened again.

A lone gunman goes into a public place, shoots a bunch of innocent strangers and kills himself so we don’t get the voyeuristic luxury of watching the animal go on trial.

It seems like it happens so often now that we’re a little immune to it. The recent Vegas shooting didn’t have a huge effect on me. I felt disconnected, and I feel like the news stories now are all about the shooter, a debate on gun restrictions and whether the president’s response was appropriate.

But when I read about the shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs on Nov. 5 – just a couple of hours after I left my own church in Houston – I was moved to tears.

There were children shot to death, including an unborn baby of a female church member and the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor.

Why? What did they ever do to you?

I’m not particularly interested in tracking down the person who sold shooter Devin Patrick Kelley the firearms. I don’t care if he stole them or borrowed them or walked into Academy and whipped out his Visa card.

I’m just confused as to why people are doing this. It seems like lately, as security is heightened and people are more aware and less trusting, the mass shootings have increased.

An Army vet shot 13 people while walking around his New Jersey neighborhood in 1949. The University of Texas clock tower shooting was in 1966. An unemployed security guard killed 21 people at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, Calif., in 1984, and the term “going postal” was coined in reference to a postal worker who shot 14 people at the post office and killed himself in 1986. The Luby’s Cafeteria shooting that took 23 lives in Killeen, Texas was in 1991; Columbine – one of America’s first experiences with a mass killing of child victims and perpetrators – was in 1999. Thirteen soldiers and civilians were killed at the Fort Hood Army base in 2009. Then there’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, the 2015 Twin Peaks restaurant shooting in Waco, Dylann Roof’s spree in a historic black church in South Carolina in 2015, the Orlando shooting last year that took a whopping 49 lives and now Vegas and Sutherland Springs. I don’t even think Sutherland Springs was about hate or racism; it was just straight-up crazy.

I don’t have any answers as to how to keep this from happening again. I don’t know why people do these things. But it does seem like it’s happening a lot – and the conversations about gun control, mental health and bad parenting simply aren’t doing the trick.

It’s tragic that we live in a world where businesses conduct frequent “active shooter trainings,” where there are places where people’s purses are checked before they walk into worship services. I don’t want to worry that my loved ones who attended the Houston Astros victory parade were anticipating that unmistakable sound of a gunshot.

This is crazy, y’all. And a “hug your kids” or “thoughts and prayers” Facebook post isn’t going to fix it. We’ve got to work together and we’ve got to find solutions.

April Towery is the managing editor of The Sealy News. She can be reached at 979-885-3562 or via email at editor@sealynews.com.

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