Ehrhard: Once again, evil visits a school in a small, safe community

Earlier this week a man named Salvador Ramos allegedly walked into the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and shot dead 19 students. All of the students were apparently in the same two-room classroom. He reportedly killed his grandmother before beginning his rampage in the school

This senseless tragedy in Texas invokes the sadness of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting nearly 10 years ago in Newtown, Conn. Twenty students and six adults were killed by Adam Lanza, who killed his mother before entering the school on that December day in 2012. Both Newtown and Uvalde are small seemingly safe bedroom communities.

The heart and mind has trouble comprehending how such acts of evil can occur. Despite the chaos of humanity, an elementary school classroom inherently is a place of joy and youthful imagination — a sanctuary from the vagaries of the world and adulthood.

President Biden in his address to the nation about the Robb Elementary School killings declared, “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?… Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?” Unfortunately Biden missed entirely the powerful but sad truth of what made suspect Salvador Ramos kill 19 children at point blank range. The gun lobby had nothing to do with it and neither did the gun he used. No one keeps “letting this happen” and no one is choosing “to live with this carnage” as Biden baselessly declared.

Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy speaking about the Sandy Hook killings in 2012 had the courage to speak the truth: “evil visited this community.” In that short statement he summarized a hard fact about the such senseless acts.

St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century believed that “evil” was the non-existence of “good.”

More often than not our society fails, as manifested through the 24-hour media world surrounding us, to accept the fact that evil people do evil things for no other reason than that they are evil.

Already we hear discussion that the shooter was mentally disturbed and psychotic such that he is not culpable. This talk may be a consequence of the need to fill airtime or internet space, but a disservice is done to society in that we fail to face the hard truth of existence. Evil exists and sometimes cannot be avoided.

A person who executed 19 young children at point blank range with numerous shots into each young body is evil, and no excuse is to be made for his actions.

The second response is to blame the guns in the shooter’s hand and call for some unspecified “control” of guns. But the facts of this massacre belie the absurdity of such talk.

Ramos, according to media reports, had no criminal record and would have passed any and all background checks. No level of gun control would have stopped his procurement of weapons save the nullification of the Second Amendment. Indeed, the arming of specific school personnel (including teachers) would likely stop such future tragedies in schools.

Now there are surely a number of Americans of good faith who desire the Second Amendment be considered an historical anomaly, but such people are a true minority in this country. When the Sandy Hook shootings occurred, more than 200 million weapons were in circulation among the American civilian population. Ownership of firearms is deeply ingrained in the American fabric and underlies and protects all of our other beloved freedoms.

If any overarching lesson is to be learned from the horrific events at the Robb and Sandy Hook elementary schools, it is that we need to accept that there are those who are evil and be diligent to the best of our reasonable ability to protect against them.

At the same time we need to take note, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, of the “good” in ourselves and others.

James P. Ehrhard is a writer whose columns have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Examiner, Boston Herald, Lowell Sun, Worcester Telegram, Springfield Republican and other publications. He is the owner and manager of the Worcester law firm Ehrhard & Associates.

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