Meador: No child should die by gunshot; no one should be OK with that

Chelsea Clay photo
Chelsea Clay photo

This innocuous photograph could tell any of a thousand stories.

A young woman seems to be alive with joy, moving to the beat of silent music emanating from the stage to which her upraised left hand gestures. It’s an ordinary moment, memorialized in a photo.

But what you don’t see in the photograph is the true story. In an ugly contrast to the simple image of a girl dancing, the rest of the story is bloody and tragic.

And it’s a story repeated so often we should be ashamed.

The girl in the photograph is my niece, Hannah. Her left hand points to a banner hanging over a music stage in Las Vegas. The photograph was made on Oct. 1, 2017, during the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

In a small but disturbing coincidence, my niece’s upraised right hand points to an area of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. There, moments after the photo was taken, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd below with a veritable armory of assault rifles.

From his 32nd-floor Mandalay Bay suite, Paddock unleashed more than 1,000 rounds, killing 60 people and wounding more than 400. The ensuing panic brought the total injured to 867.

The incident remains the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in U.S. history. The motive has never been determined.

Is this our destiny? Our culture has decayed to the point where mass murder is commonplace and we accept it? We take no action to correct or mitigate?

We would never accept daily arsons or bombings, but we can excuse daily mass shootings because rejecting them might hinder our own easy access to guns?

And yes, that’s daily. We’re about 150 days into the year and we’ve already experienced 214 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2022 — roughly 10 per week.

Guest Writer

Guest writer Matthew Meador landed his first writing gig as a columnist at a weekly newspaper in 1984. He’s been at it ever since via various venues, both print and digital. One of the last of the moderate Republicans, he’s convinced that for every issue people clash over, there are many more on which they share common ground — or at least would if they simply talked over their differences calmly and rationally.

I have a cynical urge to ask Americans what they would prefer: eliminating most mass shootings or providing guns for (almost) everyone? But I already know the answer.

We choose mass shootings over any attempt to restrict gun ownership. And we do so faithfully every time.

Thurston, Columbine, Santee, El Cajon, Blacksburg, Newtown, Umpqua, Parkland and Uvalde are just a few notable mass shootings at schools. Never mind all the mass shootings at other locations.

We’ll take the shootings, thank you very much. Every, single, time.

The Robb Elementary School shooting, on Tuesday, May 24, in Uvalde, Texas, killed 21 people, most of them grade-school children.

I do not care what your politics are or how much you love the Second Amendment. You should be revolted that this event was at least the 30th shooting at a U.S. K-12 school this year.

Mass shootings occur with such mind-numbing frequency that it’s difficult to keep track of them. When I write yet another essay addressing yet another shooting, I always go back and review what I’ve previously said.

But just like we endure shooting after shooting, I find myself repeating my remarks over and over. Really, there’s only so much a sane person can articulate.

What we’re doing simply isn’t working.

I support the Second Amendment, but I do not support blind stupidity.

With its many firearms enthusiasts and a constitutionally-enshrined right to bear arms, our society would never permit any attempt to ban or eradicate firearms. Even if we somehow managed to survive the civil war that would erupt if the government came for citizens’ guns, we wouldn’t see the last gun leave for at least three generations; there are simply too many.

Firearms are tools designed to kill quickly and efficiently. We should be treating them with the respect they deserve, not as a misnamed God-given right.

This doesn’t mean making arms unavailable, it simply means requiring those who wish to bear them to first demonstrate competency, maturity, stability and accountability.

Yes, a maniac can simply pick another tool like a knife, a hammer or even a panel truck. But comparing these objects with guns creates clear false equivalencies.

We like saying we’re a free country. I like saying it, too.

But we’re not a free country if we send our kids off to school with a constant fear they’ll be shot. We are not a free country if we cannot go out without worrying a heavily-armed madman will mow down a crowd of children, students, shoppers, worshipers or concertgoers.

Let’s establish some things we can all agree on.

First, we can all agree mass shootings are unacceptable. We should detest mass shootings enough to work together to develop solutions.

Second, I know my Second Amendment supporting friends love their children as much as I love mine. I know they love their children more than they love their guns.

Third, the status quo isn’t working. What we’re doing now isn’t quelling mass shootings. The 214 mass shootings we’ve already seen this year translate to about 1.4 mass shootings per day.

Fourth, guns are here to stay.

The natural instinct of some may be to seek eradication each time we see a bunch of dead children. That’s understandable but not realistic.

The Second Amendment isn’t going anywhere. And the so-called gun culture is embedded in the American psyche, like it or not.

Fifth, we must do something. While the Second Amendment guarantees certain freedoms, it was never intended to be a free-for-all.

Minimizing mass shootings will take an earnest and honest dialogue coupled with earnest and honest efforts from those on both sides of this divisive issue.

Before we talk about solutions, let’s examine several proposals.

With straight faces, people tell me we should flood our schools with guns — that arming teachers is the solution to this problem.

Aghast, I cannot imagine converting the places where we teach our children into fortified citadels. The solution for mass shootings is more guns?

The National Education Association has already weighed in, labeling the idea of arming teachers ludicrous. If educators themselves won’t agree to being armed, what then?

Even if the unions could be convinced, arming teachers is preposterous for other reasons.

It’s not just a good-guy-with-a-gun who’s going to drop a shooter. No, if we’re honest, it’s a good-guy-with-training-and-a-gun. Teachers would need to be trained tactically.

Sure, a few outlier educators would agree to the training and probably make useful security guards. But beyond this minority, it would never happen.


Arming teachers would place tens of thousands of guns right there in classrooms. Knowing human nature, do we really believe armed teachers would manage to effectively secure their weapons from curious or disturbed students?

Did we consider that busy teachers might be careless or distracted and end up accidentally providing a gun to a student who wouldn’t otherwise have had one? Maybe a sidearm left in a handbag or backpack, or a forgotten handgun left in a desk drawer?

Arming teachers would be ridiculously complicated, prohibitively expensive, enormously time-consuming and fraught with risk — all with results that would almost certainly be dubious at best.

While we’re on the subject of absurd suggestions, let’s tackle the myth of the good-guy-with-a-gun.

American films and television have convinced a huge number of Americans they are ready to step up when confronted with a mass shooter. All they’ll have to do is stand firm, draw their legal sidearm, aim and — bang! — no more bad guy.

It’s not that simple, not even close.

While well-meaning people see the Lone Ranger saving the day, reality would far likelier resemble Barney Fife or Roscoe P. Coltrane, panicking, fumbling, fatally hesitating, firing blindly.

Without military or law enforcement tactical training, the odds of a civilian good guy taking out a mass shooter are slim. In recent mass shooting episodes, more than one professional cop has lost his life as he went up against a body-armored maniac toting semi-automatic rifles and handguns.

To those people who don’t believe training is necessary, I ask this: do you have the psychological strength and discipline to perform properly in a situation calling for instant life-or-death decisions and lightning-fast reflexes? As earnest as you may be, overestimating your true abilities will result in you worsening an already awful situation and increase chances of you or others dying.

There is no single solution. As I said, it’s going to take a willingness to work together to craft solutions.

Currently, we are discussing increasing the age at which a person may purchase a gun. We are talking about background checks for every sale. We are talking about red-flag alerts.

I keep hearing an assault weapons ban mentioned as well, but this doesn’t stand a realistic chance of clearing Congress in the current climate.

While some of these proposals may collectively do some good, I believe the real solution lies elsewhere.

I believe we need to establish robust minimum national training standards. Training standards would change the way many people view firearms, elevating them from a mere sporting good to a specialized tool, requiring specialized handling skills.

Training standards would ensure firearms owners could demonstrate competency, maturity, stability and accountability before they took possession of a tool designed to quickly and efficiently kill — a respect currently lacking. As applicants are receiving training, background checks and psychological assessments could be completed.

Training standards of various levels could be developed for classes of firearms, tailoring necessary training to maximize effect and minimize time requirements.

I know such standards would inconvenience or even anger many firearms enthusiasts. But we should be able to hash out the details, streamlining the process.

I know many firearms enthusiasts already take gun ownership seriously, but many more do not. By implementing training standards, we would increase public competency and weed out most of the people who shouldn’t be allowed to own guns.

And training standards would prevent totally unqualified teenage boys from buying semiautomatic rifles.

Whatever solutions are implemented will be interpreted as a violation of someone’s rights, somewhere. In order to keep guns out of the hands of people we all agree shouldn’t have them, it’s going to become a bit more difficult for everyone to get them.

In the meantime, one proposal being discussed could help, even if I hate myself for saying it. But if we had professional security personnel stationed in schools, with body armor, tactical training and assault weapons, it would act as a deterrent in both thought and deed.

To be effective, we’d need squad-sized details. Expensive? You bet, but this proposal could be implemented, unlike the armed teachers suggestion.

I think it’s awful to come to the point where we seriously consider turning schools into fortresses. We should never have let it get to this point.

But I’d be willing to try it if we also attacked the sickness at its root, in addition to treating the symptom. Ultimately, we have a problem and we need to do something about it.

Even free societies must have baselines and guidelines. But common-sense rules established to avert a very real crisis should not be confused with weighty terms like tyranny.

Freedom isn’t a free-for-all. Without reasonable rules, we get chaos — or endless school shootings.

My niece was physically unhurt in the Las Vegas shooting, but emotionally scarred for life. Sweet Hannah had to witness sights, sounds and smells a normal human should never have to.

As things stand, young children everywhere risk experiencing scenes of horror like Hannah did. No child should endure the gruesome sights, sounds and smells associated with mass shootings. No child should die of gunshot wounds at school.

Absolutely none of us should be OK with this.



While training is vital to gun ownership, I am against a government mandate to train. They can't be trusted not to set the bar too high for most people to pass training. Let us not forget that nearly all "mass shootings" for years have occurred in "gun-free" zones. A certain senator named Biden introduced the "gun-free schools act." It has turned government schools into barrels full of fish. The school in Uvalde had zero security. In Texas, my guess is that many of the staff there already have the equivalent of a CHL. Let them carry, costing the government nothing, and keep the criminals guessing.


Changing gun laws will not rid the country of evil.


Rotwang-Senator Joe Biden did not introduce the Gun-free Schools Act of 1995.. Nor did he introduce the gun-zone legislation of February 1990. Both were introduced by Senator Herb Kohl (D Wisconsin). The 1990 legislation was part of the sweeping Crime Control Act of 1990 which was sponsored by Biden and was made into law in October 1990.
Five years later Kohl introduced the Gun-free Scools Act of 1995. Biden’s name does not appear on the list of its 10 co-sponsors from both parties in the congressional records.
There is meme circulating on social media that falsely claims otherwise. Your post is a prime example of how misinformation is spread.


Rotwang—furthermore your statement. “Let us not forget that nearly all “mass shootings” for years have occurred in “gun-free” zones.” This statement is false. I’m not sure what you are basing it on (perhaps another false meme circulating on social media?).
I’m guessing it most likely is based on researcher John Lott who claimed that 98% or more mass shootings from 1950 to the present occurred in gun-free zones. Lott’s false claim is based on a basic error. Even after Lott corrected his mistake, he claimed 94% of mass shootings occurred in gun-free places, which is also based on flawed data and contradicts other research that concludes 12% to 13% of mass shootings occur where guns are prohibited.


Changing gun laws absolutely WILL reduce gun deaths. Practically every other country on this planet has already figured this out.


So, Biden was at least a part of it. Close enough for me. And, he is not leading any movement to repeal it.


Rotwang—the response I expected from you.


Thanks for being so predictable


I always appreciate it when folks make an effort to correct lies and disinformation, but no one should expect that a certain self-proclaimed “fetid” poster will benefit. That one is only interested in lobbing fecal flames - actual facts are detrimental to its agenda. Imagine preferring that course when intelligent dialog is an option. (Perverse form of self-gratification perhaps?)


"We" don't choose mass shootings. "We" are not divided. It's the 50 Republican Senators that are causing this division. Poll after poll shows lots of support for gun safety laws. Hell, even NRA members are supportive of gun safety laws. It's the corrupt NRA leadership, and it's choice to bribe Senators with $$$$. Our current system of legalized political bribery/corruption is holding every popular measure hostage.


parent your offspring,incarcerate the criminals,commit the mentally ill and quit excusing bad behavior,guns do not kill people,it's the demented legal system that allows deaths to happen,stop catering to criminals and juvenile deliquents and drug addicts, start incarcerating attorneys and prosecuters and judges that let slimeballs off the hook,they share equally in the crimes committed!you WILL see a drop in numbers!

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