Do you remember where you were when you heard 12 students and 1 teacher were killed at Columbine High School in Colorado, nearly 20 years ago?
We do. We were glued to our TVs, watching aerials from helicopters that hovered up above. One of our Star-Telegram journalists, who worked at the Rocky Mountain News at the time, covered the tragedy.
On Sunday, the Columbine High massacre was pushed off the list of the top 10 deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history.
We all know why.
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We learned more Monday about the 26-year-old gunman who killed at least 26 people and who injured 20 more at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.
The shooter was a former member of the U.S. Air Force was previously convicted at court-martial and jailed for domestic abuse, kicked out of the military, divorced and charged with animal cruelty.
“This was not racially motivated, it wasn’t over religious beliefs,” said Freeman Martin of the Texas Department of Public Safety. “There was a domestic situation going on within the family and the in-laws.”
This horrific crime happens just more than a month after the the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas that saw 58 killed and more than 500 injured.
That means two of the five deadliest shootings in U.S history have occurred in almost a month’s span.
Sunday’s shooting was the deadliest in Texas history, with victims ranging in age from 18 months to 77 years old.
Today and this week and beyond we’ll grapple with many questions. Chief among them is what can we do?
How can we stop repeating an act that has no rightful place in this country?
According to Mass Shooting Tracker, there have been 377 mass shootings in 2017.
Millions of people responsibly own guns. On Sunday a neighbor in Sutherland Springs took action, saving lives by shooting at the shooter.
We know our neighbors and friends would offer assistance to others in need. We know our neighbors and friends do so every single day.
And we also all have thoughts on how to protect, prepare or regulate in defense of mass shootings.
What is the opportunity for us today, and in the weeks to come, to connect and share our perspectives in a productive manner?
Specifics will be hard. We have to work to delineate them and even more so to really hear them. And then to harness the desire to make change on a continuing basis.
We need our leaders to lead us in engaging in a constructive dialog.
We should participate in that dialog, respectfully.
We must understand competing perspectives.
What will we do to respond as a community, so that 20 years from today we don’t find ourselves in the same conversations, watching the same thing unfold on TV news?
Perhaps you’ve wondered, like we have, if this is the new normal. It’s on all of us to ensure it isn’t.