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by Mike Masterson | May 29, 2022 at 1:40 a.m.

In the wake of national tragedies like the one at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers in a single classroom, our polarizing national debate is again raging between the anti-gun folks and those who support our Second Amendment right to bear arms.

I can't imagine the devastation felt by every person who lost a precious child to a deranged male with a weapon and a grudge. Mom or Dad drop off their child at school one morning, never imagining they won't see them ever again.

That unbearable thought sends shockwaves of empathy and concern through our nation's psyche. My daughter Anna, mother of two, called the other day to say she was so distressed by what the 18-year-old killer did in the small Texas city that she found herself on her knees at 3 a.m. praying for those parents and anyone whose life is forever changed by his actions.

That would include any police officer, EMT or coroner who had to encounter the nightmare inside that classroom.

This latest slaughter of innocents was immediately politicized by the "never let a good crisis go to waste" crowd, always seeking another leg up in the court of public opinion. But by now most Americans have come to expect that knee-jerk reaction.

I don't have the answer to stopping such madness. I doubt anyone does, regardless of whether a determined killer plans to use a firearm, machete or deadly gas.

It requires evil thoughts to achieve evil in a tangible world, as much as it does positive thoughts to create beneficial results: As a man thinketh, so shall he reap. We must first conceive whatever we want to achieve with our hands, right?

In that respect, our country is engaged in an epic battle of spiritual warfare between good and evil.

The fundamental question we can never seem to resolve in this divided society is how do we prevent such calamities? Is the answer gun-control laws? How's that working out?

The Uvalde killer legally purchased his firearms. And please don't try to convince me a mentally ill man intent on inflicting evil and horror can't--and won't--find a way to achieve his goal. I can't help but believe signs were posted on the school doors in Uvalde saying it was illegal to enter with a weapon.

Since the school shootings at Jonesboro, Columbine, Sandy Hook and on, these mass murders have provided a political battlefield for adults who feel the urgency to come up with an effective method for preventing them.

Yet there clearly is no easy answer. And so these killings continue.

Some believe we need better emotional and mental health screening to detect potential problems among students at an early age, as evidenced by the fact so many shooters, including the 18-year-old who also died at Uvalde, have been disturbed young males.

Is one answer to have more school resource officers?

Another idea is for schools to have single points of entry with remotely controlled locks. Apparently the Uvalde killer slipped in through a side door.

Should the teachers and administrators who choose to be trained and allowed to keep weapons safely on hand in order to have an effective means for protecting themselves and their students? Crazed men with mass murder on their mind can (and have) claimed many helpless lives before police arrive.

Should we increase the number of students schooled at home or via remote learning?

A recent release from the Second Amendment Foundation based on a report from the FBI on active-shooter incidents in 2021 certainly lends credence to the philosophy of defending ourselves, as "Wild West" as some may find that approach.

Four of those killers were reportedly stopped by armed private citizens, which the foundation contends is powerful evidence "the right to keep and bear arms is as important today as it was when the Constitution was ratified more than 200 years ago." The FBI reported 61 active-shooter incidents in the U.S. last year. All but one of the killers were male, ranging from age 12 to 67.

In light of what we've seen transpiring in places large and small (Uvalde is only slightly larger than my hometown of Harrison), I believe we must each continue to have the ability to defend our lives and the lives of other innocents on equal ground.

Second Amendment Foundation founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb praised the FBI report for acknowledging the role played by legally armed citizens.

"It is important to acknowledge these citizen first responders, and the countless lives their heroic actions saved," Gottlieb said. "Truly, these were good guys with guns. ... People have a right to defend themselves and their loved ones if they are caught in the middle of such mayhem. Unquestionably, in each of the four cases cited by the FBI report, lives were saved."

In addition to the four shooters killed by armed citizens, 30 others were apprehended by law enforcement and 14 were killed by police.

Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at

Print Headline: Spiritual warfare


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