The ghastly series of needless gun-related deaths in the US continues with the latest in Texas this morning, with reportedly at least eight people killed by a fellow student, though initial reports of the numbers of dead and injured and identification of the shooter tend to be unreliable.
Police responded to reports of a shooter at Santa Fe high school about an hour from Houston on Friday morning before 8am local time. Students evacuated Santa Fe high school, about 35 miles south-east of downtown Houston, amid a heavy presence of law enforcement and medical first responders.
The Harris county sheriff, Ed Gonzalez, said in the late morning that at least eight and perhaps 10 people, including students and staff from the school, were dead. One male, a student at the school believed to be the shooter, has been arrested and a second “person of interest” has been detained, Gonzalez said. A school district police officer was among the injured and officers were searching the school, he added.
“The number varies; it could be anywhere from eight to 10 fatalities,” he said.
Donald Trump has issued a statement in his usual hyperbolic style and I have highlighted the obviously insincere parts.
“Thank you very much. Unfortunately I have to begin by expressing our sadness and heart break over the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas that just took place moments ago. We’re closely monitoring the situation and federal authorities are coordinating with local officials.
“This has been going on too long in our country. Too many years. Too many decades now. We grieve for the terrible loss of life and send our support and love to everyone affected by this absolutely horrific attack to the students, families, teachers, and personnel at Santa Fe High. We’re with you in this tragic hour, and we will be with you forever.
“My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves and to others. Everyone must work together at every level of government to keep our children safe. May God heal the injured and may God comfort the wounded and may God be with the victims and with the victims families. Very sad day. Very very sad.”
Of course, he will forget them as soon as this news is out of the headlines. And he and his fellow NRA-owned politicians will do as little as possible because any serious reform will require limiting access to guns.
What is interesting is that in the full statement he did not use the ‘we send our thoughts and prayers’ platitude, though he did throw in the benediction at the end that presidents now seem feel obliged to give on every occasion.
The ‘thoughts and prayers’ cliché has been widely ridiculed recently as a meaningless gesture to cover inaction because it enables you to pretend that you are doing something while doing nothing. Let’s see whether other politicians also shy away from it. The problem for them is that not being able to use it means that they have to find some other pseudo-action and that is not going to be easy. Another excuse that has been ridiculed is the one where gun advocates say “this is not the time to discuss gun control” when it obviously is. The more of these bogus rhetorical avenues that are shut down, the better chance for some meaningful action.