written by: Jason Reynolds
Atheneum BFYR/Simon & Schuster, 2016
My girls went to the Jewish Community Center PreSchool. They went to Summer Camp there, too. I volunteered in the PreSchool Library and worked at the Akiva Academy, our private school for grades K-6.
Lately, I am a member of our Jewish Community Relations Council and serve on the Social Action Committee. I attend meetings at the Jewish Community Center regularly, participate in programming, and even work out at the gym.
Last Tuesday my daughter read my blog. She called and said, “Bees, Mom. Really? You could have been killed.” The truth is those were not her exact words, but if I heard her correctly, that’s what she meant. I could only answer, “I’m too close to this one. I can’t process it yet. I don’t know whether to be scared stiff, horrified, or incredibly sad. I guess I’m all of that.”
She understood. Of course she did. I love her deeply for who she is. She has an incredible amount of common sense, and a practical and loving view of the world.
Here’s what happened, and what is still unfolding.
It came to the attention of law enforcement personnel that a self-proclaimed white nationalist intended to go to the Jewish Community Center and start shooting. The right people were notified and did what they needed to do to keep everyone safe. The young man is in jail with a hefty bond. The FBI is considering whether to pursue Federal charges. He may have stay in jail until his trial. He may be released to house arrest if he can make 10% of his $250,000 bail. He will not be allowed to view or post on social media. All firearms will be removed from his home. He pleaded not guilty, but that’s a discussion for another time.
The man is from New Middletown, Ohio. He may have attended my story hour, although neither his name nor his chilling, smiling police mug shot rings a bell.
A recent survey shows that most Americans support Extreme Risk Protection Orders commonly referred to as red flag laws. https://www.apmresearchlab.org/stories/2019/08/19/survey-guns-america-poll-red-flag-erpo-suicide-homicide-mass-shootings-storage They require a person deemed dangerous to himself or others to relinquish his/her gun(s) for a period of time. Seventy-seven percent of the population surveyed agreed with the proposal. They included Republicans, Democrats, men, women, gun-owners, those who don’t own guns, people from all races, religions, economic and educational spectrums.
So what’s the problem? Our government is supposed to work for us. To do what we want. We tell our representatives how to act, and they act in our interest. Except when they are on vacation and stay on vacation until they are contracted to return.
I began to wonder if our country was beginning to move onto a common sense path when I heard our president say he is in favor of red flag laws. After all, citizens are being murdered on the streets and in places of worship and in entertainment venues…
After an earful from Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA, the president retracted, saying that guns don’t kill people. . . and we need to help mentally ill people.
So much for common sense.
Some mentally ill people are probably suicidal. Red flag laws will help prevent them from killing themselves. Some mentally ill people are not suicidal. They still deserve to be treated for their affliction the same as a person with a physical affliction.
That’s not the point. To call mass-murder committed with a firearm the act of a crazy person is just, well, crazy. I don’t have a source for this, but I don’t think all homicidal people are crazy. I think homicidal people are filled with hatred. They act out their hatred on people who don’t share their ethnicity, their sexual orientation, ideas of right and wrong, childrens’ rights, womens’ rights. . . Or their hatred is unfocused, based in fear.
Ignoring the hatred and fear will only lead to more violence.
Last week, in Youngstown, Ohio, a tragedy was averted. All security personnel, law enforcement, and the FBI did their jobs and I will be forever grateful.
-—stay curious! (and compassionate)