Now that I’ve had some time to settle back into daily life, I’d like to address the latest school shooting. This time, there were six victims at The Covenant School, a private Christian elementary school in Nashville. I read that the school is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA). I was raised mainstream Presbyterian (PCUSA), but I have some relatives who are PCA. They are more conservative, like Southern Baptists, while mainstream Presbyterians are more akin to Methodists.
It was the morning of March 27, 2023 when 28 year old Audrey Elizabeth Hale, who evidently identified as a trans man, shot open a locked door and stormed the hallways. She killed three nine year olds and three adults, including the school’s head, Dr. Katherine Koonce. I don’t know much about Audrey Hale, other than the fact that at one time, Hale was a student at The Covenant School. A lengthy manifesto was left behind, where Hale mentioned “having to go to that school”. I don’t know anything about Hale’s actual experiences at The Covenant School, but I do know that PCA believers insist that homosexuality is a sin that will send believers to Hell. I can only assume that maybe Hale was feeling condemned by church officials, whether or not that thought was ever expressed to anyone out loud.
Recently, Audrey Hale was under the care of a mental health professional, was using male pronouns and going by the name Aiden, and made a living as an artist and cat sitter. Just before the tragic events of Monday morning, Hale contacted a friend on Instagram and warned her that she would soon be reading about Hale in the news. The friend tried to report Hale’s comments to the police. Inexplicably, the police did nothing.
Those who once knew Audrey Hale describe the shooter as “shy”, “quiet”, “sweet”, and “good”. But something happened, because for some reason, Hale turned into a murderous monster. As politicians in Tennessee ban drag shows, and parents in Florida compare great works of art to pornography, and many people insist that women should not have the right to bodily autonomy, more innocent people are losing their lives over the ridiculous gun laws in the United States.
I don’t understand how Republican politicians can declare abortions “murder” and then yammer endlessly about how “precious” life is, as they refuse to do anything about the terrible gun violence problem in the United States. They talk and talk about the need for a smaller government and more liberties, but their policies seem to grant more liberties for criminals and crazies than regular folks.
This morning, Bill shared a video with me, showing a shouting match between Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie and New York Democrat Jamaal Bowman. Bowman was yelling about how three innocent nine year olds had been murdered, and Massie was insisting that we should have guns here to “protect us”. Yeah… but where the fuck are the good people with guns when someone like Audrey Hale goes off the rails? And why should everybody be expected to stay “safe” by carrying weapons?
I’ve mentioned before, I used to vote Republican as a matter of course. I didn’t know any better. Conservatism is what I grew up with in my small, southern Virginia hometown. Getting out of that environment is what opened my eyes to the truth… Some people are true “ammosexuals”. It’s like they get a sexual charge of owning firearms. I don’t know about Audrey Hale, who apparently legally owned seven guns… Who the hell needs that many weapons? If a gun is needed for personal protection or hunting, why not just own one? But one gun can still be deadly… especially to growing children.
I recently got into an argument with a stranger on Facebook, who insisted to me that anyone who isn’t pro-life should also be in favor of gun rights. The person claimed that guns don’t kill as many people as abortion does. I found that comment absurd on many levels. Developing embryos and fetuses have no concept of life or death. They aren’t conscious of impending doom. They don’t know the fear of being in what should be a safe place, and suddenly hearing gunshots.
I certainly don’t cheer for abortions. I think they should be avoided whenever possible. But to compare an abortion of a very early pregnancy to a nine year old child being shot in school is absolutely ridiculous. I might be more onboard with the pro-life movement if the politicians promoting it were more serious about protecting already born children from being shot in school. How many more already born children have to die before Republicans will admit that something must be done?
I have never been pregnant, and I don’t have children of my own. However, my husband’s daughter has been sharing her children with us. She recently shared a video showing her two oldest children playing. They were so full of life and energy, and she was very patiently supervising them. She’s a wonderful mom who loves her kids, and has suffered several miscarriages. I can’t imagine how absolutely devastated and horrified she’d be if she lost her children to gun violence.
I think about my sister, who needed medical help to get pregnant– not IVF, but something less intense. Her son, an only child, was very much wanted. Luckily, he managed to survive growing up going to American schools and is now in college. I imagine how awful it must be for parents– especially those who worked very hard to become parents– when something like this happens. Why aren’t the Republicans thinking about those people– who fought for and wanted their children so badly, and now risk losing them to gun violence? Why is their focus on forcing people to have babies they don’t want or can’t take care of, instead of protecting the already born babies who were very much wanted by their parents?
The whole thing is absolutely crazy! And while I don’t know what specifically caused Audrey Hale to go nuts on Monday, I think I can understand why so many people seem to be losing their shit. Things have been on a downward spiral for some time… and the past three years have been especially bad. Clearly, Hale had some terrible mental health issues, and I am always an advocate for helping the mentally ill. But as long as we allow anyone and everyone to carry firearms, this horror is going to continue. It seems to me that a lot of people are operating on a thin strand of sanity. It’s time we disarmed more people and did more to help them regain their grips on reality.
Rep. Thomas Massie seems to think the answer is arming teachers… how sad that is. Teachers shouldn’t be expected to use lethal force to defend their students and themselves. Instead, we should all expect to be able to go places and do things without taking our lives in our hands… especially on school campuses. I hope our very divided politicians can soon come to a consensus on this issue and do something to stop the carnage. But, as I am fond of saying sometimes, “people in Hell want ice water…”