Over the last 12 days, we have had domestic terrorist attacks at a grocery store in Buffalo, at a church in Orange County and yesterday at an elementary school in Texas. I feel profound sadness and anger at these acts and location of the acts, as they are so relatable to our every-day lives. I feel anxiety for the security of my three school-aged kids, anger at the 50 GOP senators who obstruct the overwhelmingly popular universal background checks for purchasing guns, and frustration at our singular and shortsighted approach to the issue.
When reading of the latest school shooting, my impulse is to think through my kids’ school security plan. I wonder how such heinous acts can be prevented through physical force and police presence. Funding for this type of security at every school would be nearly impossible for school districts faced with layoffs every other year and particularly older districts with diminishing student enrollment (and funding as a result). I think about teachers who have one of the most critical jobs in our society, they have to worry about over-crowded classrooms and lack of support, in addition to the safety of their students.
I also wonder about the effectiveness of over-policing at our schools, seeing as the shooter in Uvalde elementary was not brought down by the three officers that confronted him, but by a tactical team because of his use of body armor. None-the-less, an immediate reaction and safety plan is essential.
To the 50 Republican Senators led by Senator McConnell who obstruct universal background checks on a federal level, you should not have the privilege of being public servants. On a national level, nearly 90% of the population support universal background checks to purchase weapons. This is not a partisan issue; this is a public safety issue.
Assault weapons, like AR-15’s and AK-47’s should not be sold to the public. These weapons were created for war. Although I understand enthusiasts joy in firing these guns at ranges or in the countryside, we have witnessed the results when they fall in the wrong hands.
Solutions that are halted on a federal level are linked to campaign donations. Combined, the 50 Republican senators have received millions in campaign donations through gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association (NRA). Although membership for this organization is widespread, the interest of the NRA is to protect gun manufacturers for more robust sales, not its’ membership or public safety.
I believe we must, above all, look at these mass shootings comprehensively. I feel this is at its core, a family issue. I wonder what’s happening inside our homes that radicalize young men to make them act in such a way. Do violent video games normalize violence through weapons? Where were the parents in these situations? Where was the guidance, love and nurturing?
And I come to the conclusion that we must invest in our families.
We, as parents, stress and worry about keeping up with our financial responsibilities, which would be made easier with good paying union jobs. One job should be enough. Parents would then have more time to spend with their family and kids.
We must invest in our families through FREE activities. We need robust programing for school, after-school and community activities. Our community centers, parks, community pools, are all opportunities for an increased quality of life and would create a more harmonious environment for our families to thrive.
We need to invest in our families through counseling availability, mental health support and intentional emotional maturity courses.
All of this with the intent of building a stronger system for our families to prosper. This is possible through an almost $100 billion dollar surplus at the state, with nearly half of that being un-assigned. We can do this now.
Lastly, as a person of faith, I believe that our first church is our home. Are we taking care of our church? Are we raising our children right? Am I being a good role model? Am I doing everything possible for us to have a better life? Will our efforts lead to community benefits and a better generation who will help create a brighter future for all of us? Only time will tell, but I believe we all have a role to play; and this issue, along with our future is in every one of our hands.
Jose Rodriguez is a National City Council Member.