Monday morning, just before 7, I got in my car to head to work, heart and mind ready to forge ahead into one of those no-stop days that are my life, which I count myself blessed to have.
Of course when I turned the key, the radio came on with the news of the hour, and the peace of my happy world came to immediate halt. Another mass shooter. Las Vegas, this time. There wasn’t a death toll yet, nor an official count of the wounded.
Any are too many. Each was someone’s family member, friend. All, I’m pretty sure, went to that concert that Sunday night without thought or concern they wouldn’t make it home alive, uninjured or at the very least have their lives forever tragically affected.
I have no words. I don’t have strength or ability to suggest maybe we’re not considering all to be considered of how such killings could be prevented. I’ll middle road it and say I do believe you cannot legislate morality or outlaw hate. I know, and fully believe, pure evil exists today, as it has since time began.
But I won’t let it be in mine.
I remember two years ago, after a shooting spree that killed nine in Oregon talking with my friend Beth.
“It’s not the bullies that do all this,” she said. “It’s the bullied, or the ones who think they’re bullied. That’s who you’ve got to watch out for.”
I wish we knew how to watch.
Tuesday, at recess, while we watched the 4-year-old Pre-K students slide, and swing and pretend they were dinosaurs, one of the teachers asked (jokingly), “What did that guy have to be angry about? He was a millionaire.”
I took notice of what a perfectly lovely fall morning it was, and listened to the happy sounds of children playing, and thought at first, “Well he didn’t have happy 4-year-olds to care about,” though I knew that oversimplified the issue.
But my second thought was more heartbreaking. “What about all of his victims who did?”
I guess I have become less shocked that these things happen. But how can I not? The killings keep happening.
I’m no less sad by Sunday’s more-deadly-than-any-previous mass killing than I was 26 years ago when a shooter opened fire in a Luby’s in Killeen and killed 24 people or than I have been by every horrific incident since. I’ve cried real tears over Columbine and Newport. I grieved – truly grieved – in 2016 when five policemen were killed (and nine more injured) by a sniper in downtown Dallas. I have paused and prayed over victims of each of the numerous and unfortunately somewhat frequent mass killings that keep occurring.
What a more innocent me wouldn’t have been convinced of before Luby’s is that there exists in this world pure evil. Evil perpetuated through sadistic, narcissistic, neurotic lunacy and the signs warning of its eruptions never seem to be caught – in time at least.
Of course I don’t change my ways or life much because of them. Truth is, I don’t know what to do.
I don’t, won’t and shouldn’t own a gun for self-protection. I know my limits and abilities too well. But I don’t, won’t and shouldn’t argue with my friends and relatives who do carry and have the license and training to do so. I trust them. I could probably trust them with my life. Maybe, if a madman wielding an arsenal of guns comes to any of the random locations where I might be to kill and maim us all, somebody “carrying” will save us, but I’m very much at odds with that solution. The panic factor is real.
I cannot reconcile in my heart and mind the need, use and purpose of a citizen owning an arsenal of semi-automatic (converted to automatic) guns – except that he plans to kill a lot of people quickly and efficiently.
By the same token, I really do not believe laws can be made to protect the innocent from the deranged.
So I continue to ponder why it is that in our fierceness to protect second-amendment rights, we have potentially denied all citizens’ constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
All I can suggest for now is that we reverently and respectfully bury our dead and vow anew to take care of our living with kindness, respect and charity. And pray, I guess, when the next horrific incident occurs, we and those we know and love will be spared.
Candace Cooksey Fulton, formerly of Brownwood, is a freelance writer now living in San Angelo. She writes weekly columns for the Brownwood Bulletin and the San Angelo Standard-Times, each unique to the particular paper. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.