To the Editor,

When is enough, enough? How many children have to die? Is there a magic number that meets the threshold? How close to home does it have to happen? When I got the call from my grown son that there had been a shooting at my grandchildren’s school, it was a gut punch. Italy Texas High School, seriously?

Now every school shooting makes me feel helpless. What can we do? Wring our hands, cry, pray, enrolling our kids in smaller schools? None of those things are working.

The lack of response from our leaders is disgusting and a slap in the face of parents who have had to bury their children! Paul Ryan says this is not the time to talk about changing gun laws. Maybe it would be time if it happened at his children’s school? The president sends condolences to the families…..I’m sure that helps relieve the pain and anger of the grieving parents.

Let’s all take a look at the realities of these school shootings, and brainstorm for solutions.

Almost across the board, students and school staff could predict the guy that was most likely to become a school shooter. Every time, we question “were there red flags?”, and every time the answer is yes. You can’t do anything until the student acts, right? It doesn’t matter how strongly students believe there is danger. And isn’t it heartbreaking that kids have to go to school with someone they are afraid might one day kill them?

I have worked with children from the foster care system for 13 years and there have been numerous kids who fit the profile of a school shooter. They have been abused, neglected, and abandoned by their parents. They have trouble fitting in, are full of anger , don’t trust adults, ( for good reason). The one thing that I have seen turn it around for these kids is at least one caring adult in their life.

I know gun control is a touchy subject, especially around here, but let’s take an honest look at it. Outlawing assault rifles doesn’t infringe on your 2nd amendment right. You can still have guns for personal protection and hunting. What do you hunt with an AR 15? These types of guns were designed to kill people. In the right hands, namely our military and law enforcement, they have a legitimate purpose.

It is well documented that the human brain does not develop fully until age 25. Not until then is the frontal lobe, which controls emotional expression and judgment, functional. So by allowing 18 year olds to purchase and own assault rifles, we are knowingly arming immature citizens, who lack good judgment, with the most deadly weapons.

Is this situation important enough to really do something ? Can we look at some common sense ideas?

Instead of asking what can we do, if every person who cares about this situation asked what if we…..

What if we…. kept non students out of our schools by having only one entry to the school, and it was monitored every morning. I have seen this in Waxahachie schools, but the Florida shooter entered through a stairwell.

What if ….in addition to a security officer at each school, every campus had, every school day, a resident dog who roamed the halls and classrooms sniffing out firearms? Besides the benefit of students feeling safer, it would serve as a deterrent to one who might be thinking about bringing in a firearm.

What if we…. made it illegal to own assault rifles, and the government, either state or federal, instituted a buy-back program? The guns could be given to our military, or one of the armies that the US supports in other countries.

What if we…. changed the legal age for purchasing hand guns, and certain rifles, to the age of 25?

What if we…. made school safety a priority in this election? Find out the candidates’ positions on this topic, and vote for someone who will make our children’s safety as important as parents think it is.

What if you ….volunteered for a mentoring program like Big Brothers and Sisters, or as a Court Appointed Special Advocate? What if the schools had effective mentoring programs? What if an adult was able to form a relationship with a troubled kid, and connected with them on Instagram, Snapchat , or Facebook? Yes, these kids are tough cookies, but finding out what happened to them, really listening to them, showing them there are adults you can trust, is way better than judging them. It may not work for all potential school shooters, but what if it worked for just one and saved 17 lives?

Let’s get smart about finding answers to these tragedies. Our kids deserve answers.

Rebecca Gentry, Waxahachie