By CAROL GORGA WILLIAMS
Calling the mass shootings in Sacramento, Texas and Buffalo “a total tragedy and a total sin,” Mayor John B. Moor and Police Chief David Kelso announced plans for beefing up the local police presence at schools, private institutions and elsewhere while indicating police would be assigned to periodically walk through public and private schools several times each day to drive home the message that the city is safe but only because it remains diligent.
Moor’s words before the statement were emotional as he pleaded with state and federal legislators to stop making speeches and start the hard work of gun control and gun safety because local officials do not have the authority to make such far-reaching changes.
Moor specifically referenced the April 3 night-time shooting in Sacramento that killed six people on K. Street; the May 14 shooting in Buffalo, NY., meant to specifically target Black people doing afternoon grocery shopping at Tops Friendly Market that killed 13 people and the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX.,that killed 19 children and two adults in a largely Latino community of 16,000 located about 75 miles west of San Antonio.
The school shootings have not seemed to galvanize elected leaders to make mass shootings harder to commit and the attitude seems to be divided between the two parties with Democrats calling for tighter measures and enforcement while Republicans say the Democrats are using political opportunism to overstate the threat.
A day after Uvalde, rural conservatives in Pennsylvania and Michigan beat back Democratic attempts to force votes on long-blocked gun safety legislation.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, urged lawmakers to advance firearms safety measures, including raising the age to 21 for purchases of long guns and exposing gun makers to civil lawsuits.
In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul said she would seek to ban people under 21 from purchasing AR-15-style rifles while in California – where a politically motivated mass shooting erupted at a luncheon of older churchgoers last month — legislative leaders and Gov. Gavin Newsom fast-tracked tougher controls on firearms.
“Do Something. do anything” said a group of school principals who have survived school shootings in a full-page Washington Post ad. “We beg you.”
“The world is going a little bit crazy,” the mayor said. “The U.S. is out of control,” he said, blaming escalating gun violence on easy access to guns and the sheer number of guns in general circulation. “It is very nice to see senators and congressmen on the floor (of their respective houses) making speeches (saying) ‘oh, what are we doing? what are we doing’ but I’m getting tired of the speeches, I’m getting tired of the moments of silence, I’m getting tired of going to funerals.”
As much as Moor and Kelso came out strongly in favor of gun control and overall diligence, Moor just does not voice much optimism such messages will be heard in Washington.
“The sin of it is it is going to happen again. We can’t know when, we can’t know where, we can’t know how many,’ he said.
Texas was the 35th mass shooting in the U.S. this year,” Moor said, noting 45,000 people are murdered in this country by guns every year, a rate that is highest among all industrialized nations.. “It is a total tragedy and a total sin.”
Three experienced city police officers monitor city schools each day, Moor and Kelso said. Zone cars are ordered to patrol around schools without full- time officers, officials said. All city police officers are trained in active shooter response and attend scenario training several times a year.
:”While our nation grapples with the aftermath of this most recent mass shooting, we must continue to be vigilant in ensuring the safety of our children,” the city statement said. “More officers will circulate the city, walking through schools, including private and charter schools. The city’s mobile surveillance tower will be placed before schools on a rotating basis for monitoring and deterrence while additional officers will be assigned to schools at dismissal times “to assure a safe departure and show a strong presence.”