American gun violence

Silence on San Bernardino School Shooting Speaks Shuddering the Soul

The following post, written by The Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.

Last Monday another school shooting sent shockwaves across the country, but they didn’t last long.

According to Police Chief Jarrod Burguan:

“A Southern California man fatally shot his estranged wife inside an elementary school classroom attended by special needs children before killing himself. Two students were injured in the murder-suicide at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, and one of those children later died at a hospital.”

Three people died: a teacher and wife of the perpetrator, an eight-year-old student, and the perpetrator himself. And another student was injured by the gunfire while standing with the other student behind their teacher.

This story was breaking news interrupting the live broadcast of Sean Spicer’s press conference on Monday afternoon. However, it seemed that as more details trickled in the more this story fizzled out of the media’s attention and thus also the collective conscience of the country.

This act of terror was not perpetrated by someone from one of those countries Donald Trump wants the nation to fear for its national security. This school shooting was a tragic act of domestic violence in which two students were also shot and one of them died.

However, the script we have come to expect to play out following these tragedies with calls for increased gun control, mental health awareness, and a resolve to make sure it never happens again did not even get started this time.

The silence of even this familiar script shudders the soul.

There has been virtually nothing in the media regarding gun control or domestic violence or any other related factor. Is this because it was a domestic violence incident perpetrated by a white male and not by a “terrorist”? I can’t help but think that it would be pandemonium all over again if this heinous act of violence were carried out by a person whose skin color was other than white and/or religion other than Christianity. More if the shooter happened to also be undocumented well there would be no end to the public outcry.

It is deeply disturbing that this act of domestic violence resulting in the death of a woman and a child and causing trauma to an entire elementary school did not merit more media attention along with calls to not only address the epidemic of school shootings in our country but the pervasiveness of domestic violence as well. Again, the soul shudders.

Addressing violence against women in all its forms must become an urgent priority. Passing the Violence Against Women’s Act would be a great start. However, the Republicans in Congress seem more interested in regulating women’s bodies than they are about how those same bodies are treated by anyone other than their doctor. Additionally, with this month dedicated to sexual assault awareness, it is imperative that this pervasive problem in our society especially its relationship to domestic violence and its prevalence in many workplaces be addressed substantively.

That this school shooting went by without any substantive cries to address our nation’s gun culture and safety laws, especially regarding domestic abusers, is another indictment against this impervious predicament.

It is long past time to end the NRA stranglehold on the GOP in Congress. If sensible reforms are to be passed this must happen. No amount of tragedies no matter how horrific will change this (see Sandy Hook). It will take the political will of the people calling, marching, and protest as we have seen with the fight to keep the Affordable Care Act. The Republicans in Congress must know that the people will no longer tolerate the National Rifle Association dictating our country’s gun policies.

Mental illness is tragically under-addressed in our society and treatment for it severely underfunded. These health care needs must be addressed on their own and not simply as a side conversation when it comes to addressing gun control. All too often the conversation around mental illness is tangent away from the more pressing gun control and safety discussion that needs to happen for the health and safety of our communities. Though it is worth noting that the Republicans in Congress made it easier for people who are mentally ill to get guns.

This latest school shooting has given us much to talk about, so how come no one is talking? Is it because this act of terror doesn’t fit the terrorism talking points?

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