One Man’s Take On The Recent School Shootings

As you already know, Tuesday’s school shooting in Colorado hit me like a ton of bricks, was rather the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Resources already teetering on the ‘empty’ line, this was my undoing.  I tried yesterday to write about it and couldn’t … simply could not do the heroes of this and the previous school shootings justice … my words were cold and flat.  Then yesterday, waiting in my inbox, was Nicholas Kristoff’s piece about the shooting and his related opinion.  I passed it over, bookmarked it for ‘later’.  And then, in an email chat with our friend Ellen, she mentioned that I should read it.  So, at 2:00 a.m., hot (our a/c is on the fritz), and unable to sleep, I read the piece … and it said just what I had wanted to say on Tuesday night.

I try to minimize the number of editorial pieces I share verbatim, but sometimes they simply must be shared, and this is one such.

We Have 2 Dead Young Heroes. It’s Time to Stand Up to Guns.

It’s too late to save Kendrick Castillo and Riley Howell, but we can honor them by taking on gun violence.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

May 8, 2019

Politicians fearful of the National Rifle Association have allowed the gun lobby to run amok so that America now has more guns than people, but there is still true heroism out there in the face of gun violence: students who rush shooters at the risk of their own’s celebrate, and mourn, a student named Kendrick Castillo, 18, just days away from graduating in Highlands Ranch, Colo., who on Tuesday helped save his classmates in English literature class from a gunman.

“Kendrick lunged at him, and he shot Kendrick, giving all of us enough time to get underneath our desks, to get ourselves safe, and to run across the room to escape,” Nui Giasolli, a student in the classroom, told the “Today” show. Kendrick was killed, and eight other students were injured.

At least three boys in the class — one of them Brendan Bialy, who hopes to become a Marine — tackled and disarmed the gunman. “They were very heroic,” Nui said. Bravo as well to the police officers who arrived within two minutes of the shooting and seized the two attackers.

The courage of those students in Colorado echoes last week’s bravery of Riley Howell, a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Riley, 21, charged a gunman there and continued even as he was shot twice. As he tackled the gunman he was shot a third time, in the head, and killed, but he ended the shooting.

Riley was deservedly given a hero’s funeral, and presumably the same will happen with Kendrick. But their parents didn’t want martyrs; they wanted children and grandchildren. And it is appalling that we as a society have abandoned American kids so that they must die to save their classmates.

When New Zealand experienced a mass shooting in March, it took the government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern just 26 days to tighten gun laws and ban assault rifles. In contrast, America has had 53 years of inaction since the University of Texas tower shooting in 1966 claimed 17 lives. Sandy Hook … Las Vegas … Parkland — so many dead; so little done.

Since 1970, 1.45 million Americans have died from guns — suicides, murders and accidents. That’s more than the 1.4 million Americans estimated to have died in all the wars in American history going back to the American Revolution.

This should also make us all cringe: In a typical year, more American children ages 4 and younger die from firearms (110 in 2016) than police officers do in the line of duty (65 in 2016).

So let’s send thoughts and prayers to the families of victims in Colorado and North Carolina, but let’s also push for a sensible gun policy that would make such heroics less necessary.

Granted, this is complicated. America has so many guns out there that new restrictions may not be as effective as we would hope. The 10-year ban on assault rifles from 1994 to 2004 had trouble defining assault weapons and had an uncertain impact.

Still, there are obvious steps worth taking. A starting point would be to require universal background checks before all firearms sales. Some 22 percent of guns are still acquired in the U.S. without a background check; a person wanting to adopt a rescue dog often undergoes a more thorough check than a person buying an assault rifle.

Safe storage of guns — in gun safes or with trigger locks — prevents children and others from accessing firearms. Voluntary gun buybacks would reduce the pool of firearms out there. We should also invest in “smart gun” technologies that require a code or fingerprint to fire. We need more “red-flag laws” that make it more difficult for people to obtain guns when they present a threat to themselves or others.

And tell me: Why do we bar people on the terrorism watch list from boarding planes while still allowing them to purchase guns?

In 2011, a spokesman for Al Qaeda, Adam Gadahn, urged would-be terrorists in America to pick up an assault rifle at a gun show, where there might not be a background check. He emphasized how easy this is and added, “What are you waiting for?”

Other steps to lower gun deaths don’t even directly involve firearms. Programs like Cure Violence and Becoming a Man have been shown effective in reducing violence among at-risk young people. The military has conducted experiments showing that counseling can reduce suicides (a majority of gun deaths in America are suicides).

Every day in 2017, the last year for which we have figures, an average of 107 people died in America from guns. We’re not able to avert every shooting, but we can save some lives. We need not have the courage of the students who charged gunmen; we just need to demand action from our members of Congress and state legislators.

That’s the best way to honor heroes like Kendrick Castillo and Riley Howell, by making such heroics less necessary in classrooms around America.

24 thoughts on “One Man’s Take On The Recent School Shootings

    • Why must the killing of children become a political issue? Why must it be ‘left’ vs ‘right’? Why isn’t it a humanitarian issue? Children should not be put in the center of partisan politics. Sigh. When will we ever put politics aside and do what’s best for humans? Never, I guess.


  1. Here in CO last week, s hols all shut down when a disturbed woman had sent threatening emails saying she a as coming to CO to reprise the Columbine shootings. She flew in and purchased two guns on the spot and ended up in a mountain area, apparently used one of the guns to kill herself. Something has to be done. I thought big brother was monitoring threatening emails. Why wasn’t she immediately picked up at the airport.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I heard about that and tried to stay on top of the news, waiting with great trepidation as I feared more deaths. I was actually relieved that she was found dead, which is a sad thing to have to say. And why on earth would somebody have a hero worship for the perpetrators of the Columbine shootings??? Yes, something has to be done … guns need to be taken out of the average persons hands. Why wasn’t she immediately picked up at the airport? Same reason Mohamed Atta wasn’t arrested before 9/11, even though he and a couple of the others had come onto the FBI’s radar. Sigh.


  2. One must wonder exactly what sort of a country has no problem with young school children knowing to face police with their hands and arms crossed over their heads to avoid being shot by mistake, where teenagers with their whole lives ahead of them become statistics instead, where anyone having 1000 guns strewn across the rooms of their home is not unusual? Nicholas Kristof has written about the need for gun control again, and as always is spot on. The photo included with this particular one is heartrending to me. A child, a mere child, who is attending school to learn the usual subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic must also learn how to act spontaneously when someone with a gun enters what should be a safe haven. How many times must Columbine be repeated before our government reacts to this epidemic? I just finished reading in this evening’s Daily Beast : PM Cheat Sheet a summary of an article taken from The Los Angeles Times about a man, Girard Saenz, arrested after police received an anonymous tip about his 1000 guns in an L.A. mansion. After reading that and then the full story, I am incredulous. This “man” is a licensed weapons dealer but apparently might have run amok of the laws while doing so. Rifles, shotguns, assault weapons and pistols along with a large amount of firearm-manufacturing equipment and tools were discovered and confiscated by law enforcement. Saenz spent several hours overnight but is released on $50,000 bail. What strikes me is that according to a former L.A. County District Attorney ” There is nothing in itself wrong with having a thousand guns…”. Excuse me, nothing wrong, the very fact that this is legal is in itself wrong!! There are many, many things wrong with how gun control is, or is not, carried out in this country…when will something, anything, be done to adequately address and correct this problem? Thank-you!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Perhaps the worst part of the U.S. Constitution is the 2nd amendment. Not, mind you, that it was written in error, for at the time, and as it was intended, it was spot on. However, it is the interpretation it has been given over the 240+ years since the framers wrote the document that is in error. The framers did not imagine a gun that could mow down a hundred people inside of two minutes, nor, I think, did they see the utter stupidity with which mankind would interpret their words. I, for one, would happily see guns banned in every nation on the globe, but … I will just as likely see little green men come to my front door and ask to use the bathroom. Sigh.

      I had not heard nor read of the Saenz story, but will look into it tomorrow. 1,000 guns??? One THOUSAND guns??? And this is not against the law? Shoot me now … let me die and come back as a wolf, but please, not in the United States where life has no meaning!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jill, I agree with the context of your statement re the 2nd amendment. The problem is the mindset, no so much the law. If we somehow repealed the 2nd amendment, that would only make the problem go underground, where a thriving black market without regulation would literally flourish. It’s the same with prohibition in the 20s, everyone distilled their own alcohol, and some even went blind drinking the homemade brew. Same with illegal drugs,even legal drugs these days.
        It’s human nature, if gov’t makes something “illegal”, then ppl will find a way to get around the law. Once guns get banned, black market dealers and killings will rise! Just the drug wars, we’ll have gun wars between rival gang gun runners. You see it’s all about the mindset, in America if there is a demand… it will be supplied! That’s predatory capitalism, and it’s alive and well in the good ol US of A!
        The best way to get rid of guns is education, not oppression. The gov’t cannot force it’s citizens to give up their firearms, but introduce a campaign exposing the horrible cause and effect of guns may do the trick. Perhaps you and readers can come up with better solutions than mine. B/c right now I’m at a loss, what to do???


  3. Jill, Castillo and Howell are heroes. It is sad to see our kids having to be the heroes, when they have been failed by the adult legislators paid to make excuses why now is not the time.

    Yes, it is not just a gun governance issue, but make no mistake, gun governance is a vital part of the reason we have a shooting culture. Overwhelming majorities want universal background checks and extended waiting periods. Majorities want action on people who have become a threat and a judge can temporarily take a weapon away. And, we should have honest debate on assault weapons, especially with the FBI testifying this week that there are 850 open domestic terrorists cases.

    But, yes it is a mental health issue, but other countries have mental health issues and far fewer gun deaths per capita. And, if mental health is a concern, why are Republicans so eager to ditch the ACA which has mental health coverage and why do they support people on Social Security disability for mental health reasons to be allowed to buy a gun?

    Mass shootings are happening far too often, but the biggest gun death cause in the US is suicide. Homes with guns have a higher propensity to suicide, yet doctors are not allowed to ask if a gun is in the house.

    Action is needed. Unless thoughts and prayers are around help me legislate wisely, they are superficial comments. Keith

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, as Kristof said, they are heroes, but their parents didn’t want heroes, they just wanted their kids to come home. That isn’t too much to ask, is it? 😥

      Yes, the majority, even among gun owners, do want some action … they support stricter background checks, and some even support a ban on assault-type weapons. But ask them if they are willing to make this a gun-free nation similar to the UK and Australia and watch their faces turn purple. We do not need guns in the hands of civilians. Period. And I can only blame the government to a certain extent, for We the People are not united in this and are not demanding that gun sales to civilians be stopped. We are not volunteering to turn in our guns. No no no … we are insisting that the guns make us safer. So, what’s a few dozen kids here and there?

      Sigh … never mind me … I am sickened and disgusted by humanity at the moment.

      Liked by 2 people

      • The UK does not have guns legally in the hands of civilians, but it does have increasing knife crime which shows that the problem behind all these terrible attacks, is an increasingly hateful mindset and disregard for the sanctity of life.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Jill, Colette, knife crimes are horrible as well, yet the firepower of an assault weapon or hand-gun with multiple shots is far more lethal. Since they are designed to kill or wound, guns must be governed at the time of sale and ongoing. We govern cars ownership with more ongoing rigor than we do guns.

          Better governance will help, but we should face facts. The police and FBI are frightened by lone gunmen who can escape scrutiny and become enflamed by terrorist or extremist websites or perceived or real slights. It is critical for friends, family or doctors to seek an injunction from a judge to temporarily remove handguns. This won’t solve it either, as all it takes is an impulsive decision with a gun in hand and people die. Keith

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t know about Riley Howell. What a hero. as well as Kendrick Castillo. Fine young men their parents raised. What a waste just because the NRA have such a monetary stranglehold on your politicians. Something must be done and all politicians must commit to the care of the whole of the American population and the majority who support gun control have a voice that must be heard.
    Just one of the children killed in school within the last twelve months may have been the scientist who went on to cure the cancer gene or one of the plagues which still ravage Africa. One may have become the President of the United States who brought about world peace.Such promise gone to waste. This must be the end of an era for the NRA and for any other group who buy their politicians with donations towards election costs. No-one like that does something for nothing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You know I fully agree with you. I would love to see every gun not only in this nation, but around the globe, destroyed and the munitions factories and gun manufacturing factories blown to smithereens. This world does not need guns. This world does not need nuclear weapons. This world needs education, it needs medical science, it needs people … learning to care about other people rather than profits and money. It needs trees and flowers and bees. Instead … we get … stupid guns! And stupider people.

      Sigh. Fortunately, the NRA is going through some problems and from what I can tell are having financial difficulties. If they go belly-up, that would be fine with me, however it wouldn’t solve the problem, for the gun manufacturers would only form a new lobby. Sigh. Wolf? 🐺


      Liked by 2 people

  5. Jill, it’s a partisan issue. Throw the Republicans out in 2020 and we can finally make some progress on a myriad of social issues. Florida legislators in the recent 2019 Congressional Session (Republican controlled) applauded themselves on passing laws and money to arm teachers in schools and on disassembling an amendment approved by over 65% of the voters in 2016 to restore voting rights to felons who had served their time and paid their dues to society. Now DeSantis has signed a law which could also require them to make financial restitution. 😡

    Liked by 2 people

    • To an extent, it is a partisan issue, but there are enough democrats who will also fight harder for their 2nd amendment ‘rights’ than they will for their 1st amendment rights to free speech. Sigh. Contrary to republican belief, arming teachers can only result in more deaths, not fewer. I hope we can throw them out in 2020 … I wish we could toss the whole lot of ’em today! WHAT??? DeSantis did WHAT??? I hadn’t heard that one yet … I shall check it out in the morning … he should have been put out on the street last November. Jerk! Aaaaaarrrrrggghghhh!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It is a sad report, but one that really should motivate people to overwhelm the hate mongers who rule America and change the ‘Right to bear and keep arms’ (Second Amendment).

    Is it worth getting an Avaaz petition going world wide?

    How should it be worded, and can we get it out onto Social Media for people to share?

    Found these, if anyone wants to sign…

    (Jill you will need to approve the reply to this as there may be several links to petitions, including an Avaaz one, just set up).

    Liked by 1 person

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