School is back in session this week, believe it or not, and, as is customary, Riverside's police chief sent out a note to residents via email on Tuesday with a word about safety as classes resume.
The note wasn't a friendly reminder for motorists to be aware that kids will be out crossing busy streets and that they ought to exercise caution. It was, rather, a note to the community reassuring residents that police and school officials have conducted meetings and training in order to be fully prepared in the event of an active shooter event.
In addition, the chief called for everyone in the community to be vigilant, to be aware of suspicious behavior and provide information to police in order to help prevent a tragic school shooting.
This is where we are as a nation.
As school begins, local officials feel compelled to reassure the community that their children will have a fighting chance of not getting massacred by someone armed to the teeth.
This is not a criticism of the police for sending that message and for preparing for such an event. In the absence of any safeguards against the sale of weapons of mass slaughter, such incidents will continue.
Two more, in rapid succession a little more than a week ago, took the lives of more than two dozen people and wounded many more. Men, women, children, families.
How on earth is this state of affairs acceptable on any level?
Last week in the aftermath of the shootings in Texas and Ohio – the timing was coincidental, it turned out, but certainly not unpredictable – a group of Brookfield residents turned out at Eight Corners for a candlelight vigil to protest the nation's addiction to gun violence and call for commonsense gun law reform.
About 40 people showed up. It was a positive message. But it all seems so futile.
Those who wield the power in this country refuse to address the root problem – the appallingly easy availability of firearms to just about anyone – and deflect to other symptoms, from violent video games to mental illness.
That every other civilized nation on earth has people who play violent video games and have mental health issues but don't have anywhere near the level of gun violence of the United States always escapes them.
The problem is the guns. Until this nation has the courage to confront that fact, local police will continue to try to reassure parents that their children will be safe in their classrooms -- though the reality will be that dozens will continue to be sacrificed on the altar of this country's gun worship.
And those who continue to stand in the way of reforming gun laws will continue to offer their thoughts and prayers and their feeble explanations for why change isn't possible or even desirable. It's obscene.
Welcome back to school, kids.