Lakeside

Uniting Around the Tragedy in Uvalde, Texas

I would be remiss to continue my normal posts on non-profit leadership in light of the tragedy that has occurred with the mass shooting at the Robb Elementary School. This has been a devastating week in our country and for all those who have been involved in this brutal set of murders in this Texas community.

I send sincere sympathy and condolences to the families who have been so tragically impacted by the loss of their children and loved ones. I am so concerned for all the students who may never feel safe in a school again. I grieve for a community that has been completely disillusioned by the devastation of such a heartless occurrence.

It is clear that we have a significant set of issues around gun violence. We have had more mass shootings than we have had days in this 2022 calendar year. It has been occurring in stores, churches, schools, entertainment venues and in the streets of America. As sophisticated as we may be in this country we are plagued by these shootings like no other country in the world.

I am extremely concerned when I hear arguments over whether we have a mental health problem or whether we have a gun control problem. The answer is both. It is not normal for an 18-year-old to shoot his grandmother and 19 elementary-aged children. It is also not appropriate for an 18-year-old to buy two assault rifles with 300 rounds of ammunition. There are clearly more questions than answers but sitting idly by only means we will be witness to more deaths from gun violence in the future. We do not have time or the option of doing nothing and the longer we delay the more liability we will assume.

Photo courtesy of ny1.com

I do not pretend to have an ideal solution to this nationally growing problem. I think we can only begin the process and continue to measure the impact carefully. Our children’s safety is at risk and we must be vigilant to work through this carefully and aggressively. The hope that we all have is that this horrid incident may be a catalyst for change. As long as we stand in oppositional controversies, we will be impotent to see measurable progress. It is time to unite and begin the progress of making a difference for our children’s sake.

We need to send all of our prayers and support to these parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents and others affected in the Uvalde community. This event was shocking and traumatizing for everyone. It also will threaten the safety of many school students who will close this school year by feeling very vulnerable and possibly unsafe. It will take some time and effort to restore their faith in our ability to protect them. Helping our children process this event will be extremely important as they contemplate their own school safety.

It is clear that these shootings will not end here. However, if we can bridge our argumentative gaps and focus on what we have in common to protect our children, we have the potential to make meaningful changes. To hope that this will never happen again will only be a reality if we make progress on changing how we approach those who have struggled with anger, violence and trauma. We need to take weapons out of the hands of individuals who are not mature or stable enough to responsibly make decisions about how they cope with their life stressors.  Please do not let this tragedy go by without insisting in some way that we make compelling changes.

Gerry Vassar

President/CEO

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