Another school shooting, this time on Thursday. Two students shot dead by a classmate. This time, it was in California. This time, a 16-year-old boy packed a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol in his backpack on his birthday and shot it six times in the school quad.
It is natural, this time, to breathe relief that “only” two were killed.
But don’t let that happen. We cannot become so inured to mass shootings, in schools or anywhere, that they have gone from shocking to mundane.
Stare at the facts. Here’s what happened Thursday at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif., north of Los Angeles. Shortly after 7:30 in the morning, the boy who brought a gun to school started shooting, seemingly at random, and soon killed two classmates and wounded three others before injuring, but not killing, himself. It took all of 16 seconds.
A 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy died; a 14-year-old girl and boy and a 15-year-old girl were injured (plus the shooter), who was not immediately named because he is a juvenile.
In the 46 weeks of 2019, there have been 44 school shootings in this country. The year before was one of the deadliest with 24 school shootings with 114 people killed or injured. (The most were at the high school in Parkland, Fla., on Valentine’s Day that year.)
Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, seven years ago next month, 2,291 mass shootings occurred in this country as of Friday, including many at schools and universities.
While schoolchildren practice shooter drills across the country — Saugus High School had one in the spring — and teachers learn what to do in lockdowns, Congress does ... nothing. This is shameful.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut and longtime advocate for gun violence prevention, tried to get the Senate to budge. Unbeknownst to Murphy, as he was speaking in the Senate Thursday, the school shooter was killing people in California.
Murphy was attempting to force a vote by unanimous consent of a bill the House approved in February. It calls for expanded background checks on gun purchases, which a majority of Americans support. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to call any gun bill for a vote that is not pre-approved by President Donald Trump. Although after the El Paso and Dayton shootings in August the president said he would support the legislation, he demurred after the NRA objected.
Murphy’s attempt failed because of an objection by Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi.
“My kids and millions of others hide in corners of their classroom or in their bathrooms preparing for a mass shooting at their school,” Murphy said, “and this body does nothing about it.”
The Senate has to take responsibility for the safety of the citizens, especially the children. Tell them as much. And do not numb yourself into thinking another school shooting is no big deal. Or inevitable.