One year ago this week, a monster roamed the halls of an elementary school in my state of Texas, murdering 19 students and two teachers before a federal tactical team leapfrogged the infamously unresponsive local officers and killed him. While the months that followed featured appropriately harsh assessments of a sluggish law enforcement response at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, the approach of the anniversary has rekindled the activism that ignites after every mass shooting—the rush to blame guns for a problem based not in weaponry but in our society.
The Texas legislature has been meeting since the beginning of the year, a session that has featured waves of lobbying designed to erode Second Amendment protections, as if stricter gun controls will stem further tragedies.
That lobbying has been undertaken by people wielding a uniquely compelling strain of testimony. Many are the parents of kids killed that day, and some usually rock-ribbed legislators have been worn down by the emotional impact of hearing the pleas of grieving parents seeking to “do something” to “make a difference” so that there can finally be “action to address the problem.”
The Uvalde parents deserve our prayers, our good wishes, and our attention to their unspeakable loss. Yet one can truly grieve with them while also believing that gun control is just not the answer—and would sadly not prevent another massacre from taking more children from their parents. Unfortunately, bad policy does not become good policy simply because it is desired by a sympathetic community.
This doesn’t stop the gun-grabbing Left from pushing what it likes to call “common sense” solutions, which always curiously involve telling law-abiding gun owners what they will no longer be able to do and excoriating politicians who “refuse to act.”
In fact, our lawmakers are acting. They have withstood the latest assault on constitutional rights of the type that spring from every shooting.
These assaults on our rights are a tricky business because they come in the wake of real, deadly assaults, often on our children. And that pain, epitomized by the Uvalde grief that touched us all, can sometimes erode the clarity of even staunch gun rights advocates. It’s then that bad and useless ideas flow freely, from red flag laws which mangle due process to age restrictions that deny basic rights to adults.
The truth is, we do not have a gun problem in Texas—or anywhere else in America. We have a people problem. Increasingly fatherless households, a deepening cultural rot, and a generational penchant for long, damaging hours at computer screens have combined to form a legion of young men untethered from the values that used to inform the American journey to manhood— work hard, get good grades, make something of yourself, cultivate a healthy social life, get married, have kids, and if you choose, spend your Sundays in church.
Mass shooters do not come from the ranks of people who do those things. They emerge from cauldrons of dysfunction and despair that we have largely helped create in an America that has lost its way. Fixing that problem is longer and harder than cobbling together opportunistic legislation, and the answers have virtually nothing to do with politicians—or guns.
In his recent opinion on our nation’s COVID overreaction, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch properly identified the dangers of lurching toward ill-advised knee-jerk responses: “Fear and the desire for safety are powerful forces,” he wrote. “They can lead to a clamor for action—almost any action—as long as someone does something to address a perceived threat. A leader, or an expert who claims he can fix everything, if only we do exactly as he says, can prove an irresistible force.”
Cries for gun control are compelling for that very reason, especially in the emotional aftermath of unfathomable tragedy. But the legacy of the loss we mourn on this Uvalde anniversary is not honored by anti-gun obsessions; our best remembrance of victims is tied directly to a commitment to improve the moral fabric of the country our current kids are growing up in.
Mark Davis is a talk show host for the Salem Media Group on 660AM The Answer in Dallas-Ft. Worth, and a columnist for the Dallas Morning News and Townhall.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.