Addressing the unthinkable isn’t impossible, just overdue

I’d like to write about The Masters, but like you (unless our hero Sam Burns is reading this), I watched on TV. Unlike Roy Lang III, I’ve never played the course, or visited it, unless I can count Google Earth. Unlike Journal colleagues Roy, J.J. Marshall and Teddy Allen, I’ve never been at Augusta National covering it.

I’d like to write about Benton’s Emily Ward, captain of the LSU women’s basketball team, and the Tigers  winning the national championship, and how it’s absurd for us to expect more of those (even though Mikaylah Williams arrives next season), except that Kim Mulkey is the coach and she does have quite a collection of championship rings, so many she might need to consider a natty necklace with matching earrings before she’s done. Kim’s running out of fingers.

I’d like to write about the curious case of Fair Grounds Field, its possible rehabilitation or the other extreme, REV-driven replacement, and how we won’t see an MLB-affiliated minor league team here, which brings into question whether there’s any merit to doing anything other than safely and efficiently eliminating the eyesore along I-20.

But I can’t. Not today.

Not after the latest sicko walked into Old National Bank in Louisville Monday morning and destroyed lives. Not long after substitute teacher Cynthia Broyles Peak, Captain Shreve graduate, class of 1979, was one of the victims at the Covenant School in Nashville. Not after ….

I’m fortunate that I don’t know anyone involved in these latest shootings. But when I lived in Lafayette many years ago, I caught plenty of movies at the Grand 16 Theatre about a half-mile from my house. A 59-year-old whack job took two lives and wounded nine more there in a few horrible minutes one July night in 2015. Too close to home.

I know Tommy McClelland, the former Louisiana Tech athletics director, a deep snapper on Northwestern State’s 2004 Southland Conference champion football team. Tommy and Jessica are incredible parents. They live in Nashville and have two adorable pre-teen sons. Tommy felt compelled to use his Twitter account quickly after the March 27 shooting to let friends know their kids don’t attend the Covenant School. Then he shared heart-breaking tributes to those who were lost.

I know Patrick Turner. He was a rugged center for the Demons’ 1984 conference champion team and  became an FBI agent. He was living in Las Vegas when his teenage daughter and a friend were at the 91 Harvest music festival Oct. 1, 2017, on the Vegas Strip to enjoy Jason Aldean’s show. Her dad had long since shared what to do in a nightmare situation.  The girls evaded the hundreds of rounds fired at innocents – 60 people died, 413 were wounded — and made it to a nearby building as Patrick sped toward the scene.

Sadly, you probably know of people like them. God forbid, you may know people traumatized, or scarred by these recurring tragedies, or worse.

I don’t know what we should do. What we can do. But we can’t continue to do nothing except hearing  politicians argue.

After the Nashville shooting, I admired Georgia Tech football coach Brent Key for his impassioned plea that afternoon, begging our leaders to do SOMETHING, anything, to try to end this madness. He’s not the first sports figure, just the latest, to do what we all can do. That’s demand change from those empowered to create it.

I’m not here to say ban guns, or any type of gun. I don’t own a gun, haven’t fired one since I was a teenager. It’s hard to argue taking away guns is the route when we know the criminal elements have mind-blowing arsenals, and there are black market pathways just around the block to obtain whatever the malevolent desires. But our nation can, and must, develop much more effective gun control.

I am for much tougher scrutiny on who can legally obtain guns. It’s obvious that every shooter has some deep-seated issues that rarely cropped up recently. Buying a gun should be the culmination of a multi-step review, not a relatively quick transaction after a visit to a shop or a same-day deal at a gun show.

Especially for those who have mental and emotional issues. There’s screening for that now, but it is unreliable. This is irrefutable: when we commit the level of resources to addressing mental health needs that our American society requires, from terrified children to confused young adults to frustrated retirees, then we’ll have our best chance to regain some semblance of the calm that our country once had.

When I was a toddler, the most jarring event in the post-World War II era took place in Dallas on a November afternoon. My first memory of television isn’t cartoons; it’s watching Walter Cronkite and some experts discussing JFK’s assassination, and I was later told, the creation of the Warren Commission.

Doesn’t matter if you admire, or abhor, President Biden. It’s time for him to stop railing about Republican opposition and be presidential. Start with Chief Justice Roberts, add an NRA representative and his counterpart, build a presidential panel balanced with all perspectives, and charge that group with swiftly developing a pathway back from the abyss. This year. Rapidly. Piece by piece is fine.

There are a lot of layers, and no commission will come up with all the answers. But it’s way past time we create some change to alter this insane course of action. It doesn’t happen anywhere else on Earth.

You know the definition of insanity. It’s doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.

I still want to believe America is better than that. I know most Americans are.

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