Parkland slaughter should hit home in Chester County

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By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

If you had a pit in the stomach this morning when you sent your kids off to school, you were probably not alone. I certainly did.

Yesterday’s mass shooting in Parkland, Florida should hit home for folks here in Chester County. Like so many of our community high schools, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is in an affluent suburb. The school has an average SAT score of 1230 — that would slot it right between No. 2 Unionville (1247) and No. 3 Great Valley (1208) in terms of Chester County SAT averages. The school has consistently been ranked in the top 20 high schools in Florida.

The obvious conclusion: this could happen here.

And as shootings at schools continue, maybe it seems inevitable. Since the massacre of 26 — 20 of whom were young children — at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. in 2012 there have been 430 people shot in 273 school shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Digest this: our kids are not safe at school.

And as we know from the last four months, they’re not particularly safe at concerts, the mall or in church, either.

After every mass killing, we get the “prayers and thoughts” speech (which I took a great deal of abuse back in 2016 for pointing out were pretty hollow). And then…..?


50-plus people and 400-plus wounded in Las Vegas, thanks in part to something called a “bump stop” that makes semi-automatic rifles act more like a full auto weapon. Is it banned, regulated, or in any way hindered?


26 people slaughtered in a church in Sunderland, Texas. Anything?


And now, 17 dead in a Florida high school.

I think it’s safe to say, there will be no response from our elected officials.

Near as I can find the only actions taken by the federal government in the last couple of years are to make it easier for the mentally disturbed to get guns and President Donald Trump, in his new budget proposal, seeking to cut funds for federal background checks and of course members of Congress fighting tooth and nail to make sure those on the terror watch list can still buy guns.

In fact, the only solution we keep hearing is “if you armed the (teachers/musicians/preachers) they’d be able to stop these things from happening.”

Which is, of course, a steaming pile of cow manure. History teaches us that.

In 2009, an Army major shot and killed 13 and wounded more than 30 at Fort Hood in Texas. Presumably, the Army has a lot of well armed and trained people — and yet they couldn’t stop the shooter. In the 2017 shooting in Sunderland, a man across the street grabbed his AR-15 and attempted to stop the shooting — wounding the shooter as he left — but 26 people still died that day. The “good guy with a gun” theory never holds up to closer scrutiny — despite that, people keep bringing it forward, actually arguing that a pitched gun battle in a school is a good thing.

The next straw man argument is mental health. I totally agree that we need to do a vastly better job of both expanding access to mental health care — but I think one can argue that Canada has mentally ill people — yet sees 1/6th the number of gun homicides per capita. Australia, too, probably has mentally ill people and has 1/21 the number of gun homicides annually, per capita.

So what’s the difference? Yes, both countries have national health care — which may cut down on homicides, some. But, I don’t see gun rights advocates fighting for a U.S. National Health Care program.


A closer look at the numbers tells the story: countries with tougher gun laws — like Australia and Canada — have less deaths.

No law will stop all gun homicides, but universal background checks will keep guns out of the hands of at least some folks who shouldn’t have them. Banning bump stops and high capacity magazines can help prevent large scale massacres. I’m not sure why we need military weapons with vastly higher muzzle velocities (three times higher than a handgun) that literally rip people to shreds, either, to be honest.

But it is not going to change. Our elected officials, largely, are too afraid or too beholden to the National Rifle Association. They take the bundles of cash and live in fear of the NRA putting money and people into a primary race if they don’t do their bidding.

It is not now, nor has it ever been about the Second Amendment. It’s about cash — money to politicians and unit sales and profits for gun makers. They’ve put a price on the lives of your kids, essentially, and taken the money and ran.

In short, they are much more afraid of the NRA, then they are of you, the voters. And besides, enough folks keep voting for them, anyway, which I guess means they’re OK with these massacres.

Meanwhile the rest of us, knowing something could be — should be — done, are forced to offer our own “thoughts and prayers” that the next shooting won’t be here, won’t target our children, that our loved ones won’t make Downingtown, East Marlborough or Tredyriffin the next Parkland.

Thoughts and prayers.

They don’t seem to be doing much, are they?

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