It has now come to be a routine nightmare for parents in America, that when a child leaves home to school, the kid returns safely in the afternoon. But this did not happen on that fateful day in Nashville, Tennessee when an armed shooter unloaded clips at The Covenant School killing three nine year olds and three other adults before being taken out by law enforcement officers. As if this horror was not enough by itself, the reminders by way of statistics started pouring in: that firearms are the biggest killers of kids.
The President of the United States, Joseph Biden, was not the only one sick to his stomach upon hearing the terrible news; nearly every law abiding citizen anywhere in the world would have had a sense of revulsion at what is taking place. But what makes the whole environment even more disgusting and toxic is in the kind of rationales put out for this kind of madness and in a kind of fancy thinking that it is people who are to blame, not guns. In a country where there is an estimated 400 million guns somehow an impression is sought to be foisted that it all comes down to the person holding the gun or a high powered rifle is the only one responsible.
And the blame game does not end with the shooter. In a country where phobias are aplenty, there is a new twist to the Nashville killing: that perhaps it all happened because the 28 year old Audrey Hale, identified as the perpetrator, was a transgender as they are supposedly more prone to violence. This cheap shot comes after police first identified Hale as female, then as trans and now dabbling in the realm of uncertainty. That apart, common sense shows that virtually all of the shootings in schools and elsewhere have been the handiwork of cisgender males and transgenders have generally been at the receiving end of violent crimes, not just in the United States but elsewhere too.
The attempt by the far right to look for excuses other than guns reveals an element of desperation—an attempt to turn the debate into an opportunity to further tighten legislations against transpeople especially in conservative states. At the national level President Biden and the Democrats may try all they want to tighten restrictions on guns, especially assault weapons. But they are also painfully aware that the other side too needs to be part of any meaningful solution; and this is not about to happen anytime soon and for political reasons.
It is indeed a sad commentary to see the gun lobby walking away easy and perhaps hoping to gain something more out of events like Nashville. Blaming educators for opening the eyes of children in the name of a liberal-conservative divide is not helping; for that matter having gun toting security guards in schools or turning educational institutions into airports-like metal detection environments is certainly not helping the learning process. In a deeply polarized political environment, Republicans and Democrats need to come together for the future generations of America or meekly allow the tragedy to continue.