Writing this article is painful because we are only about 300 miles away from the scene of the terrible crime that took place a few weeks ago in Uvalde, Texas, at Robb Elementary School. An 18-year-old man walked into the school and shot to death 21 people, 19 of whom were children whose ages ranged from 9 to 11 years old. Two teachers were also victims in this crime, Mrs. Irma Garcia (age 44) and Mrs. Eva Mireles (age 44). Mrs. Garcia’s husband, Mr. Joe Garcia, suffered a fatal heart attack on Thursday, two days after the shooting, and passed away. They leave behind four children, ages ranging from 13 to 23. Mrs. Eva Mireles was married to Mr. Ruben Ruiz who was a school police officer at Uvalde High School. She called her husband after she had been shot, telling him that she was dying. Along with her husband, she leaves behind a daughter. There were several other children in the school who were wounded but thankfully, survived this attack.
Uvalde, Texas is a city of only about 15,000 people and is the seat of Uvalde County in southwest Texas, one of the counties close to the southern border with Mexico. In fact, many of the U.S. Customs and Border agents who guard the southern border have children who attend the schools in the Uvalde ISD, including Robb Elementary. Just a year ago I drove through this town to attend a wedding in Del Rio, Texas. That drive was an eye-opening first-time experience for me, despite the fact that I was born and reared in the state of Texas. The farthest south that I had been previously in this state was San Antonio.
My path took me off the main highway in San Antonio down suburban roads and lanes into places that I had seen as dots on a map but never really believed existed. I think the most famous thing I noticed in Uvalde was that the 39th Vice President of the United States, John Nance Garner (FDR’s first VP), is buried here. Small towns such as Uvalde are usually passing sites where one recognizes a McDonald’s (or some other national restaurant chain), if it’s there, and if that does prompt a quick stop, then you pass the place in about 5 minutes.
That was until Tuesday, May 24, 2022. Now the town is the focal point of the world with the people of the State of Texas, and the United States at large, while we try to make sense of the horrific tragedy that cost the lives of 19 innocent children and two teachers in the last few days of the 2021-2022 school year. The shock and trauma, the surrealness of that moment has not worn out.
Beto O’Rourke, the Democrat candidate running for governor of Texas, in essence (to quote something that Ben Shapiro said to Piers Morgan in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook School Shooting in 2012) was dancing on the bloody bodies of the victims making this case about a gun grab/gun control before the facts of the case had been ascertained, a stunt he pulled as Governor Abbott and the rest of the elected leaders in the state as well as the city of Uvalde were about to make the first briefing about the shooting. Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin was so incensed that he publicly cussed out O’Rourke. As a fellow who has no authority or power in the state of Texas and is looking to garner as much publicity as possible, it was an easy political stunt which the liberal media will laud as “speaking up for the issue.” He has nothing to answer for. He does not care what the facts reveal. As long as he can set the narrative for the willing lemons in the media to follow to his purported aim of being governor of Texas, then without any class, dignity, or sense of propriety, he will do his little “song and dance” skit feigning concern.
Concern is the last thing that anyone who talks about repealing the 2nd Amendment has regarding the victims of the Uvalde shooting or for that community at large. Before anyone says this is a gun control issue, one should find out the nature of the security protocols and apparatuses of the school.
In the public schools that my children attend in Mesquite, Texas, the doors of the school are electronically locked during the school day and can only be opened during fire drills. And those doors are heavy steel and reinforced. There are cameras all over the building and the only entrance for the public is through the front doors. To actually enter the school, one has to pick up a red phone and talk to the receptionist in the office at the entrance and explain the intention for the visit, and the receptionist will buzz you in. To actually enter during the school day, one has to pick up a red phone and talk to the receptionist in the office at the entrance and explain the intention for the visit, and the receptionist will buzz you in. Most of these security procedures have been in place for the last five years. The red phone was added during the last two years because of COVID. I was under the impression that such procedures and security were uniform in all the schools of the state of Texas. If it was not the case in Uvalde, then why not? Furthermore, there is a constant police presence of some kind outside the school or in close proximity to the area.
One detail that came up the day after that first briefing was that the Uvalde Police had apparently faced off with the shooter outside the school for 12 minutes. He then managed to enter the school through an open back door (something that is impossible to do in many school districts in the state of Texas because of security protocols) and yet, the Uvalde Police and the Uvalde School District Police did not rush the school for one hour. A lone U.S. Customs and Border agent rushed to the school, and without any authority, charged inside and shot the 18-year-old killer; but by that time, it was too late for the other victims. The investigation is ongoing and only in weeks to come will we get a more correct idea of what happened, but not why. Either way, it was and is still far too early to say that the only reason that this happened was because of assault weapons or guns like the AR-15 rifle. There were several human failures for which there must be an account. It will not fit well with the “gun-control” narrative if it turns out that in a world filled with evil and evil people, local law enforcement officials in Uvalde were absolutely incompetent, or cowardly, to the point of criminal negligence.
The way that media personalities and people on the political left are talking, you would think that one can buy one of these weapons over the counter at the local drug store! That is not the case. The idea is also being pushed that Texas has no background checks and that anyone can buy these weapons legally. That too is false. The shooter in this crime passed two background checks, one for the state as well as the one mandated by the federal government, and there is a waiting period before the transaction is completed. If anyone is thinking that such rules are going to prevent crime, then they are fooling themselves. Furthermore, guns which are bought legally are not cheap. They range from several hundred to several thousands of dollars, and that is just for the weapon. Ammunition is no less costly if it is bought in bulk. The point is that guns are a serious financial investment, and that is only when it is bought legally, and that process is filled with paperwork and information to be filled out. And apparently, this shooter had paid the money and filled out that information.
Is it not fair to say that several other failures took place here as well? Does not the information that is coming out point in that direction? Texas is a gun state and the idea of saying that anyone who has a gun is as demon possessed or crazy as the 18-year-old shooter in Uvalde is not going to fly with most of the people of this state, especially in the light of evidence of other problems coming up, not just this incident in Uvalde, but all throughout the United States. In the last two years in the United States, rioting and rampaging was out of control with law enforcement unable or unwilling to do anything about it because of prohibitions and policies of local governments. Not to mention the fact that on any given weekend in cities such as Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, or Baltimore, there can be almost as many victims of gun violence as Uvalde had last Tuesday, and most of these cities have the most restrictive gun laws ever devised.
There are more problems present here than what people who have a political agenda want to think about. Before President Joe Biden talks about guns, he should probably talk to the principals of local schools, from elementary to high school, in any part of the United States and find out what kind of trouble children got into in the last school year. My children tell me every week about fights that erupt at their schools, or in other schools in the Mesquite Independent School District. Just a month before the school year ended, there was a race riot at John Horn High School in Mesquite, Texas, after a teacher had an exchange of words with a black student. It did not have to happen but what should have been no more than a misunderstanding turned into a mini rampage with several police officers having to restore control. Unfortunately, this kind occurrence is not isolated.
While I am sure that there are not full-scale riots every single day, the presence of police officers in most, if not every school, is now a regularity because there is significant violence or crime, or the threat of it, present. Drugs, violence, and sexual assault (just to name a few crimes) are regular enough for many large-scale urban school districts to now have their own police force along with security guards, but their job has been made infinitely difficult in the midst of the moral relativism of our times. If one considers the disciplinary rap sheets in the schools, it will be no surprised that schools have become fortresses with high priced security systems, cameras, monitors, just about anything and everything to keep children safe from dangers outside as well as inside.
And yet the focus almost always comes to guns outside of the school (particularly in the aftermath of a gruesome crime like what happened in Robb Elementary), as if the absence of such weapons means that the school campus is safe, a fallacy no one should believe in regards to the public school system. According to one statistic, 17% of the population of the United States are taking antidepressant drugs (roughly 50 million people); 3-4% of that number are children ages 12-19. While this does not imply that every single person who takes such medication is liable to commit mass murder, it does indicate that 1 out of ever 6 persons on the street is having a problem thinking in a logical, moral, or balanced manner. And with regards to serious crimes, it is only because of the mercy of God, these kind situations are not happening at an exponential rate in every school in every city in the nation.
Psalms 127 says, “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who try to build. Unless the Lord keeps the city, the watchman keeps awake, but in vain.” There is evil in this world and when people who are under its influence directly or indirectly decide to take a course of action that is dangerous or detrimental to someone else, they will do so unless a stronger power or influence stops them.
In the aftermath of this shooting, can we say that all such systems/safeties have the possibility to fail? Gun control laws will suffer no less an ignominious end. Why? Who follows the law? Who follows the rules? Whether we like to accept it or not, the kind of gun crime that happened in Uvalde, Buffalo, Newtown, Las Vegas, and other places are shocking precisely because they are unusual, abnormal, and macabre compared to the gun shot crimes that police responded to in Chicago this last weekend. And why is that? As NBA sportscaster Kenny Smith said, “A demonic mind cannot be reasoned with.”
The liberal left has elevated guns to personalities and souls (a generosity that they do not give to babies in the womb), and that is why the gun grabbing tendency of the Democrats is going to alarm people in the coming days. President Joe Biden thinks he can keep spouting that the 2nd Amendment (and with it the entire Constitution) is “not permanent.” He may have no idea what he is saying, or the ultimate result of what he is saying. But as I said, a government gun grab is not going to go well in this nation, a nation in which its people in the past as well as now, legally carry their guns in public in many parts of this nation. People buy guns for many reasons. Some for protection. Others for hunting or sport. And still others for collection purposes. Most of these people are persons who know the consequences of using that weapon and who do not look forward to using that weapon unless they were in a situation in which there was no other recourse. Such people do not appear on music videos or rap videos, with explicit lyrics or violent messages glorifying all kinds of violence.
There is a difference between the type of shooting that happens in a public place like a school or supermarket at random and what happens in an many urban areas of this country. Police officers have told me that the urban area gun crimes almost always happen with stolen guns, particularly handguns, and particularly in black areas. This is not a race argument; rather, it is a matter of fact. In areas of high gang activity or drug trafficking, some way, shape or form, the criminal element will get guns, and they will use them without any regard. So, to ask the question again, “Who follows the rules?” – A question that politicians should take time and answer instead of rushing to pass legislation for the sake of assuaging a grieving mind or a seared conscience. In regards to this last point, I have been hearing a particular statement which points to a basic disconnect of many people in politics as wells as in the mainstream regarding the problem of evil in the human heart.
There are many, particularly on the political left, especially those pushing gun control as well as those who are secular atheists, who have said with biting condescension that they do not want prayer as if they are saying something that is a “brilliant retort.” It is not. That sentiment is shared by people who souls are just as hollow as the murderer in any violent crime. What are people looking for in these times? Two things in particular: a relief from grief, and hope. To get either, one has to recognize the reality of evil that comes from the existence of sin in the human heart.
Salvador Ramos, Jr. (age 18) was a young man who grew up in a situation where sin, and by extension, evil, was common place. He lived with his grandmother (who was his caretaker). Both his father and mother also had their own criminal records. His mother was charged with writing a bad check at a local store while she was pregnant with Salvador Jr. She was also arrested for assault but these charges were dropped. His father also was arrested by local law enforcement and seemed to have problems with drugs and alcohol. Whatever influence they may have had on Salvador, Jr. was negative, unless it was not nonexistent. From news reports about his life, neighbors and school mates have said this kid seemed always angry and threatening violence of some kind, but never followed through in all his years public school. On social media, he found an audience, not a conscience. This young man acquired his guns legally, which means (as said before) he passed background checks. On the morning of May 24, 2022, he shot his grandmother in the face before going to Robb Elementary. And people are saying it was the guns’ fault?
What are we afraid off? Is Salvador Ramos, Jr. an aberration from humanity? Or is he a part of humanity which we (humankind) do not want to acknowledge as part of our existence because it throws off from us the sentimentality expressed in John Lennon’s Imagine, and forces us to understand that we have a common problem? Namely, sin in the human heart and by it, evil.
Ignoring the idea of evil, and where it comes from, is not going to make evil go away, and there is no number of laws of Congress, or shrieks by protestors that is going to make it go away. Evil is a concept that the media cannot explain and really does not want to explain. (Afte rall... nothing makes ratings go up like bad news. Why bother trying to understand it?) The only answer to the existential questions about evil, grief, and hope is the God of the Bible, and ultimately the place where He met mankind at the worst moment of this world: the Cross of Calvary.
Regarding grief, I do not feel myself qualified to talk about it with regard to this shooting other than to say that I identify with those families in Uvalde as a father of two children in public school who were looking forward to summer. Every parent’s nightmare would be to start off the day with your children and see them on a casualty list at the end of the day. To those who are hurting from the loss of a loved one in this particular shooting, or in some other violent crime in other parts of the world; I can only say this particular message which I received from the Lord in prayer and as I meditated on Scripture. The Bible says God is our Creator. He made us. He knows the story of every life from conception to death. If we accept that particular point of truth from the Bible, then a second point of truth will become self-evident. Namely, that God is speaking to us, communicating with us. The way we enter that communication is first of all through the truth of God’s Word. And secondly through prayer, according to His truth.
This God, because of His great love for mankind which He created, gave His Son to die on the cross of Calvary for all our sins. This means that Jesus Christ, on the cross, carried every one of our negative details, all our actions, all our sorrows, all the eternal penalties of every tragedy that comes into our existence, and by His stripes, we are healed. We will have hope. The way that happens is through the Holy Spirit, God’s presence of power (our language is not enough to describe Him!) that moves upon this world and in the heart of each person who will come to God through the Lord Jesus Christ
Jesus said, “Come unto me, all who are weak and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Prayer is that communication process. Jesus Christ is the entrance and exit to the throne of God the Father. The Holy Spirit is the power and communication line to make this interaction possible now when we call upon the name of Jesus Christ. All of this comes together at the cross of Calvary – the place and the moment where the Son of God met the worst of evil and defeated it for our sake. “He who knew no sin, became sin so that the righteousness of God would be revealed in us through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As we pray, God will slowly and surely alleviate all our griefs and make us whole. We are not created by God to move around in anger and spite and sorrow all the day long! If you become such a person, there is no way to turn it off. Such was the condition of the 18-year-old killer, and such is the condition of so many people who are running around getting involved with a hundred different causes all in the name of “making the world a better place.” If you have not become whole, how can you hope to change the world for the better?
The heart is cluttered with so much terror caused from sin, and yet it is in such a moment of tragedy that God reached out to comfort His creation. That is of the most significant messages from the cross of Calvary. Jesus Christ, the Son of God said in His sermon on the mount: “…Blessed are all who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” From the cross, He made it possible.
May God comfort the broken hearts of family members in Uvalde, especially as the facts of this crime are revealed in the coming days. May God help government leaders and representatives to think and act with clarity rather than through scope of politics. May God’s Church all over this nation go on their knees in intercessory prayer for their neighborhoods and cites asking God to guard and watch over the city while rebuking the powers of darkness and evil raging in the land! O God please help us!