Today, July 10, marks three months since the Old National Bank shooting
in Louisville that killed five and injured eight, including a young police officer who was shot in the head.
And yet when was the last time you heard elected Kentucky Republicans, the ones who love to brag about their powerful supermajority, mention this shooting or the epidemic of gun violence? Where are the discussions? The proposals? The solutions? Even the pronouncements of thoughts and prayers are done and gone.
Our GOP lawmakers do not dare discuss reasonable waiting periods (which might have prevented the Old National Bank mass shooting), safe storage, background checks, the dangers of concealed carry or the fact that, according to Everytown for Gun Safety
, gun violence is the number one cause of child death since 2020.
In Bowling Green last week, police officer Matt Davis “was shot multiple times
and was airlifted to a trauma center.” He was in critical but stable condition. Another man is dead.
Last week, a Kentucky “social studies teacher and assistant wrestling coach at Oldham County High School in La Grange was shot to death
on the campus of a Catholic university in Washington, D.C. — and authorities are still searching for his killer.”
A few weeks ago, a “7-year-old child fatally shot a 5-year-old child at an eastern Kentucky home … Life-saving measures were attempted, but the child was pronounced dead
by a coroner at the scene on Coal Road in Jackson County.”
Remember the Easy Bake Oven? “The first recall
came in with the model made in 2006. Children would get their fingers and hands stuck in the oven door, causing serious burns. 29 reports came in of children being injured 5 of them were from serious burns that the toy oven caused.” Hasbro did an immediate redesign.
But citizens and children being shot to death daily? No recalls. No discussions. No laws. Nothing.
Over the July 4 weekend, a child was shot to death
in Florida after an altercation involving jet skis. Yes, jet skis. “The grandfather of 7-year-old Yitzian Torres Garcia tried to protect his grandson by pulling him into a truck, but a bullet went through and struck the grandfather’s hand before hitting the child in the head.”
Like many families, we had loved ones visit from out of state over the holiday week. When we took the 4-year-old to the Lawrenceburg Walmart, he spotted the rack of guns for sale and said something like, “Mommy, look! Guns to kill animals and people! Why are they in here?!” I was reminded of a recent story I heard about an aunt taking her young niece clothes shopping. When the aunt suggested cute shoes that light up, the girl was adamant she could never wear blinking shoes because if she was hiding in school and moved her feet, a gunman would see the lights and shoot her.
Truth from the mouths of babes, even as our Kentucky GOP supermajority — the self-professed “pro-life” contingent — ate up the 2023 General Assembly with cruel, worthless bathroom bills, a proposal for concealed carry on college campuses and passed a Second Amendment Sanctuary protecting not our children, but our guns.
This is not normal. Shame on all of us for tolerating it.
As former gun company executive Ryan Busse points out in his book, “Gunfight,” there is nothing normal or traditional about gun ownership being encouraged for the masses or sold in megastores like Walmart. Laws allowing open carry and concealed carry are new and were put on the books for one reason: to help gun manufacturers with lagging sales make money. Until the late 90s, “open carry was rare because social norms made it taboo to walk around with a loaded gun. In keeping with those norms, no one really encouraged open carry because neither responsible gun owners nor gun companies wanted to frighten average citizens with other regular people carrying loaded guns in, say, a mall or grocery store,” he writes.
Busse goes on to say about concealed carry that, until the late ’90s, gun culture was rooted in the Old American West. “Back then, a gun worn on a hip was common and unthreatening, but slipping a gun into a boot or hiding it inside a coat pocket was what criminals did.”
Gun-obsessed elected officials like Rep. Savannah Maddox (R-Boone, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton counties) and her concealed carry bill for campuses make a mockery of the word “lawmaker.”
Three months ago, a mentally unstable 25-year-old, whose parents said they’d never owned guns and saw no warning signs, walked into a store, legally purchased
a firearm and ammunition and, days later, shot five people to death – Thomas Elliott, James Tutt Jr., Juliana Farmer, Joshua Barrick and Deana Eckert – and injured eight.
Gun violence and gun death top the daily news. It is the number one killer of kids. And here in Kentucky, our Republican lawmakers — with the power of a supermajority — lack the courage to do a damn thing about it.
This commentary was originally published in the Kentucky Lantern and republished here with permission.