Trigger sad

“I’m outraged, and you should be too. This entire nation should be outraged,” said El Paso Sheriff Richard Wiles in the wake of a mass shooting at a Walmart taking the lives of 20.
I suspect like many Americans, I am a bit numb with the horrific news of the latest two back-to-back mass shootings, still ringing in the ears of local law enforcement in the border town of El Paso, Texas, as well as in the heart of Dayton, Ohio. And as advocates on both sides of the gun control debate line up and open fire on each other across online spaces; I sit and wonder if this too isn’t part of the division these shooters want to foment? A race war? A new civil war? 

 Another young White male, another manifesto, 29 more innocent lives lost, dozens more injured. Where and when does it end? No one really has an answer for that, so perhaps we should try harder to determine where it is beginning. 

I have spent in my volunteer life, much of the past few decades remaining engaged with college students, both through my alma mater, the Grady School of Journalism at UGA ,and through my college fraternity. Where much of college life remains the same, as campus culture and society evolve, I’ve noted many similarities and a general softening among my young male contemporaries, which have at times caused me both pause and concern.   

Alienation, non-socialization and remaining a virgin against one’s will, or plans, are powerful seeds planted for resentment and hatred. Who is to blame? How to reassert or change one’s status? It’s not difficult to see a pattern to glory and even some degree of notoriety playing out an afternoon of Fortnite in the real world.

For those unfamiliar, Fortnite, created in 2017, is an online video gaming platform with three separate games, each played by millions. Fortnite Battle Royale, which can be played simultaneously by as many as 100, pits player against player in a battle of survival of the fittest, and ends when all but one player has been eliminated or killed. I have walked in on a few groups playing this game with great passion and enthusiasm, the gun play and swearing might only be louder at a convention among mercenaries of war. 

There will again be talk of gun control reform. However, Chicago Illinois, has some of the most stringent gun laws in the nation, and also one of the world’s highest rates of murder and violent crime, most often involving firearms. Yes, we can revisit the law, but isn’t it time we also revisit how we raise our young men? 

I did not walk six miles to school, through the snow each day in my bare feet; but household chores, mowing our lawn and part-time jobs became routine during what would have then been middle school years. Idle hands… 

As late Boomers, we were also toward the end of the Selective Service and potential draft, which I’m not suggesting be reinstated, but I can see great benefit in renewing discussions of a year or two of national service work just after high school. Like serving in the military, the common duty, common mission and shared surroundings might help serve as a great equalizer. 

We are yet entering fall, and 125 Americans have lost their lives in mass shootings this year. As schools start back, how many children are heading to classrooms in fear? How many parents are wondering if they have done enough to prepare their offspring for a sudden attack? 

Whether you agree or disagree with it taking the whole village to raise a child, I’ll wager a majority of you can well remember when your neighbors almost all knew each other, and at times came to assist without ever being asked. Conflict is a part of life; and building coping skills for that is as important as developing coordination, balance and muscle strength for sport. 

It is time for a national conversation and determining the root causes of this plague. If the Ebola virus or some other virulent strain attacked and killed a few hundred Americans in a period of months, we would attack with all of our national will and resources. This cure may take a bit longer, but certainly there are steps we can begin to take as soon as today to move us in a better and safer direction. 

Our sympathies and condolences to those grieving the lives lost. And prayers matter as well.
Bill Crane also serves as a political analyst and commentator for Channel 2’s Action News, WSB-AM News/Talk 750 and now 95.5 FM, as well as a columnist for The Champion, DeKalb Free Press and Georgia Trend. Crane is a DeKalb native and business owner, living in Scottdale. You can reach him or comment on a column at 


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