March 13th, 1996: the day Dunblane became synonymous with a school massacre: sixteen pupils and one teacher were shot dead that day. May 24th, 2022 the town of Uvalde in Texas becomes synonymous with a school massacre too: nineteen children and two teachers gunned down in cold blood.
After Dunblane, tighter gun controls were swiftly introduced in the UK, and – thank goodness – we’ve had no school shootings since. The Texas massacre though, follows another mass shooting only 10 days earlier, in a supermarket in Buffalo, and is just one, of several fatal school shootings, that have already taken place in America in the first few months of this year. Guns have overtaken car crashes there, as the leading cause of death for children; and young children at school routinely rehearse what to do if a gunman enters their classroom.
There’s something particularly chilling about the targeting of schools. As President Biden said, “to lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away… For God’s sake,” laments Biden, “when will it end?” In the Bible, Jesus reserves a particular fate for those who target children: “it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” We send our kids to school because we know they will be safe there. But that’s not true anymore, in America. Kids shouldn’t have to do drills about gunmen!
We in Scotland can’t control America, but we can renew our determination to make sure that nothing like this tragedy could ever happen here. And we must stay vocal, and stay vigilant. We may have tighter gun laws in the UK, but what about all the other things that make children feel unsafe at school? How vigilant are we about them? But for now, we think of those inconsolable parents in Uvalde, and join the world in sending our love to all those grieving in Texas.
I have been delivering “Thought For The Day” pieces on BBC Radio Scotland since November 2016. By kind permission these pieces are reproduced in blog posts here on my website. To find my other pieces click here go to my Thought For The Day index page.