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CARROLL: Columnist wishes he had solution to school shootings
David Carroll
David Carroll is a news anchor for WRCB in Chattanooga, Tenn.

A few days ago, I tried to watch one of the nightly network newscasts. After the first two minutes (the “tease” period, where they try to get your attention), I was worn out.

The top stories, in no particular order were: High gas prices, raging out of control. Runaway inflation. Shrinking 401Ks. COVID numbers spiking again. The threat of monkeypox. Ten people were killed in a supermarket shooting in Buffalo, New York. Russia continued pummeling Ukraine, amid China antagonizing Taiwan. The abortion battle rages on. Moms can’t find formula for their babies. Border crossings continue to raise concerns. Restaurants closing because they cannot find anyone to work.

My dinner hour appetite was suddenly replaced by the desire to take a long nap. I was worn down. It seemed like there were 99 problems, and I had zero solutions.

Then I watched again a few days later. All those stories had faded into the background, not even meriting a mention.

The mass shooting at a Texas elementary school dominated the news. At least 19 angelic, happy children are being mourned by family, friends, and an entire nation. Like most of you, I have no words, and certainly no answers. Even though it truly could have happened anywhere, too many people outside a one mile radius of the school decided to turn someone else’s tragedy into a political football.

The anger-inducing cable opinion channels went into overdrive. Politicians and so-called journalists began spreading false information, a sad byproduct of the social media wasteland. Their slogan seems to be, “Don’t take time to check for accuracy. If it fits our narrative, let’s shout it from the rooftops.”

The blame game began within minutes. “It’s the NRA’s fault.” “The Democrats did this by encouraging divisiveness.” “The gun lobby has blood on their hands.” “Trump and his disciples have fanned the flames.” “All these mass shootings are happening on Biden’s watch.” “It’s not the guns, it’s crazy people.” “Don’t blame gun owners, we’re the good guys.” “The fake news did this by publicizing and glorifying acts of violence.” “It’s all because of the violent games, music, and movies young people are exposed to.” “Why doesn’t Congress do anything?”

My friend Mike Crowder posted a profound suggestion on Facebook: “Imagine what you’d want to do if it happened at the elementary school your kids or grandkids attend. Whatever it is, do that.”

I know a number of retired principals, and I communicate with them often via phone and text messages. The middle and high school principals all say the same thing: “I worried about something like this happening at my school every single day.” One told me, “Each night I would get on my knees and thank the Lord that my school had not become the latest Columbine, Sandy Hook, or Parkland.”

Now we must add Robb Elementary to that sad and growing list. My elementary principal friends admit that they have rarely worried about a tragedy of this magnitude. At those schools, the days are mostly filled with kids who hug, parents who volunteer, and teachers who can account for everyone’s whereabouts at any given time.

The aforementioned school shootings resulted in tighter security in all schools. Even the peaceful elementary schools in my hometown no longer have unlocked doors and easy access. You have to buzz in, explain why you’re there, and show your ID before you get near any child. Even then, there are tense moments.

Recently, I saw one with my own eyes. I was filming a promotional announcement outside an elementary school, using the entrance as a backdrop from about 50 yards away. During afternoon dismissal, a man got out of his car and confronted the woman parked in front of him. Their argument got loud, almost got physical, and had the potential to get violent. The principal, a petite young woman in her first year, calmly separated the two, and later told me they had just returned from a courtroom custody battle.

In the midst of all this was an innocent child, not unlike the children we lost in Texas. This is the world we are leaving them, and I wish I could fix it.

David Carroll is a Chattanooga news anchor and author.  You may contact him at