Note: This appeared in the Friday, May 18 edition of the RightWisconsin Daily Update. 

Dear Readers,

This is not the newsletter I wanted to write this morning. I either wanted to talk about Oconomowoc’s city ordinance requiring muzzles for “pit bulls” or state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield). Instead, I’m reacting to another school shooting, this time in Santa Fe in Texas.

And yes, I am going to offer thoughts and prayers for the victims of the violence there. No, it’s not enough, but mocking prayer isn’t solving the problem either, is it? So I strongly encourage all of us to pray for the victims as well as pray for an end to this kind of violence.

I’m struck by two headlines this morning in the Dallas Morning News:

Santa Fe school shooting sparks immediate calls for gun control talks from Texas Democrats

Bombs found on campus after school shooter kills at least 8 near Houston

The juxtaposition of the two headlines should make people pause but, as you can see from the first headline, there’s a political point to be made and damn the details. We don’t know yet what type of weapon the shooter used, we don’t know where the shooter got the gun, we don’t know if the school or police were aware that the shooter was a threat and we don’t even know how quickly a law enforcement officer engaged the suspect. We don’t even know if the suspect was working alone.

I mentioned earlier I was thinking about writing a piece on the Oconomowoc ordinance on pit bulls and, in the research for it, I found an interesting tidbit. It was an Oklahoma case of a woman mauled by dogs where the original details of the news story were quite wrong. The original reports claimed the dogs were pit bulls but it turns out they were six dachshund-mixed dogs, possibly with a border collie, that lived in the woods. It turns out that many of the initial stories about dog attacks mislabel the dogs as pit bulls, partly because of their reputation and partly because of pit bulls are so varied in size and look. Yet we tend to overreact to stories about pit bulls because they confirm our fears, and the media and our politicians react accordingly.

We learned a lot about the Broward County, FL school shooter in the days that followed the tragedy there. We learned how local law enforcement failed, how the school system failed, how the FBI failed, and how the family that housed the killer failed. Yet, instead of addressing all of those failures, the kids that are calling for gun bans despite the 2nd Amendment are getting a lot of attention because the first reaction was to comment on the danger of guns, regardless of how ineffective gun control would prove to be in that case or others.

Let’s try not to make the same mistake this time. Let’s slow down before commenting on a news story when we don’t have all of the facts. That’s my prayer this morning, but I suspect it won’t do much good.

James Wigderson

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