It happened again. Another school shooting with multiple casualties, this time north of Miami.
We’re getting good at knee-jerk reactions to these situations. We aren’t good at figuring out how to prevent them.
Grandma saves lives
A grandmother in Washington state, of all people, has the right idea.
The grandmother of Joshua Alexander O’Connor, 18, found alarming journal entries Tuesday at her home in Everett, Wash., according to reports filed in court. She called police. An officer pulled O’Connor from class at ACES High School, an alternative school he began attending in the fall, to arrest him, reported the Herald newspaper in Everett.
The Herald continued:
O’Connor wrote that he wanted the death count to be as high as possible so that the shooting would be infamous, according to court papers. He went into detail about building pressure-cooker bombs, activating inert grenades and deploying explosives for maximum casualties.
“I need to make this count,” O’Connor reportedly wrote. “I’ve been reviewing many mass shootings/bombings (and attempted bombings). I’m learning from past shooters/bombers mistakes” …
On Tuesday police took a glance inside the teen’s room, saw two grenades and left the area to get to safety. Officers applied for a warrant to search the room. The high school was notified and O’Connor was arrested, reportedly carrying a knife and marijuana. A search of the home led to recovery of the journal, a rifle, the grenades, masks …
On Wednesday in court, deputy prosecutor Andrew Alsdorf told a judge that O’Connor bought a rifle because it was the same style as a gun used by one of the shooters at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in 1999 …
School officials learned of the threat Tuesday.
“Our main thing right now is gratitude, especially to the grandmother,” said Andy Muntz, a spokesman for the Mukilteo School District. “That couldn’t have been easy for her to do. The Everett police also did a wonderful job. That combination may have saved a lot of lives.”
Warning signs in Florida
In Florida, reports say there were warning signs about the Valentine’s Day shooter, Nikolas Cruz, 19, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
I can’t say I was shocked,” Joshua Charo, a 16-year-old student at the school, told the Miami Herald. “From past experiences, he seemed like the kind of kid who would do something like this.”
“I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him,” Dakota Mutchler, a 17-year-old junior at the school, told The Associated Press.
“A lot of people were saying it was going to be him,” Eddie Bonilla, another student, told CBS Miami. “A lot of kids joked around like that, saying that he was going to be the one to shoot up the school. But it turns out everyone predicted it.”
“Everyone” predicted the Florida massacre, but no one acted on those beliefs.
The shooter remains responsible, of course. He will have his day in court, as the laws of our land dictate.
The teen in Everett, Wash., also faces a day in court, but not with murder charges – thanks to his grandmother and quick follow-up by the local police department.
The blame game
We can debate gun laws all we want. We won’t eliminate them from our country. It just won’t happen. Certain types of weapons can be outlawed and perhaps they should, but the teens in both cases this week obtained their weapons legally.
We can blame politicians, including the president and Congress, but they cannot legislate morality. They can change laws, but they can’t change hearts.
Studying the connection between mental illness and lethal weapons possibly could lead to ways to prevent some mass shootings from happening.
But not all. Not even close.
“I need to make this count,” the Washington teen admitted. How can we change that mindset? Where does that mindset come from in the first place?
A different mindset
My worldview provides an answer to these questions, but it’s not a popular one in today’s America.
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” … The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”
We’ve had that mindset since the beginning of time. It’s not my fault. I screw up, and I blame you. You blame someone else.
And on it goes.
We think the world revolves around us, and we get upset when we don’t get our way, when someone puts restrictions on us – such as, you can eat from any tree in this beautiful, lush garden except this particular one (Genesis 3:2).
Why won’t we outlaw semiautomatic firearms? We don’t want anyone telling us we can’t have something. It’s that simple. The cost doesn’t matter. It’s all about what I want, or think I want.
Freedom. Liberty. My rights trump your rights. Damn the consequences.
We’ve clung to this value since we first walked the Earth.
When do the consequences become too much?
Will they ever?
It’s not about me, or you
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends …
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
The Parkland, Fla., shooting tragedy took place on Valentine’s Day, the day of love. I wonder if that was a coincidence. Was the shooter mocking love by carrying out a supreme act of hate on that day?
Love, when done right, solves everything. Which tells us how far off from “right” we are when it comes to love.
Who hates those words from 1 Corinthians in the Bible? Is that not the definition of love at its best? If all 300 million of us in the United States followed the views of just that paragraph, imagine the problems that would disappear. Instantly.
It’s a mindset. Patient, kind, no envy or arrogance, respecting your views without malice …
Why is that so hard?
Many of us are clamoring for change to prevent further mass shootings from occurring. Yes, absolutely.
We can change laws, but until we change our mindset, serious crimes will continue. As will other situations that hurt people.
It’s not about me. It’s not about you. There’s a bigger picture here, a much bigger picture.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:11-12
It’s time we grew up.
Featured photo caption: Joshua Alexander O’Connor, 18, appears in court Wednesday. He is accused of plotting to bomb and shoot classmates at ACES High School in Everett. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)