Up­Front

Albuquerque Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Jo­line Gu­tier­rez Krueger Up­Front is a front-page news and opinion col­umn. Com­ment di­rectly to Jo­line at 823-3603, jkrueger@ abqjour­nal.com or fol­low her on Twit­ter @jo­linegkg. Go to www. abqjour­nal.com/let­ters/new to sub­mit a letter to the editor.

Jo­line Gu­tier­rez Krueger tries to make sense of the Clovis shoot­ing.

The news of a mass shoot­ing in Clovis hit, aptly, like a bul­let to the back, sting­ing, shock­ing, numb­ing. Then … noth­ing? No. Not at first. Noth­ing comes later.

That’s how it is, yes? A com­mu­nity is rocked by an­other gun­man gone wild and we grieve, we rage, we vow never again, we prom­ise some­thing will be done. Then noth­ing is. Shoot, lather, re­peat. Some­time af­ter 4 p.m. Mon­day, news of the latest shoot­ing in the United States — this one in our own back­yard — be­gan break­ing through the wall-towall cov­er­age of rag­ing floods and Rus­sia. Two were dead inside the pub­lic li­brary in Clovis, we heard. Four oth­ers were in­jured as well.

And a teenage gun­man — de­scribed by one wit­ness as happy, laugh­ing, smil­ing the whole time — was taken into cus­tody while the rest of us made at­tempts to make sense of it all.

But it never makes sense, does it?

Nathaniel Jou­ett, the 16-year-old Clovis boy iden­ti­fied as the shooter, was a trou­bled boy, we learned, as all teens who mow down in­no­cent lives with live rounds tend to be. Pas­tor David Stevens at Clovis’ Living Word Church of God said Jou­ett had a “very hard life” be­fore he started com­ing to church.

But he was do­ing bet­ter, Stevens said, since the days when he kept a gun at his side and a sui­cide note in his pocket. He had been bap­tized. He was dat­ing the pas­tor’s daugh­ter.

Six­teen hours af­ter she posted happy pho­tos of the two of them on Face­book, wreath­ing their heads with pink heart emo­jis and an­nounc­ing to the so­cial me­dia world that she was the luck­i­est girl alive, it ap­pears that the gun and the sui­ci­dal think­ing had re­turned.

So here we go again, pon­der­ing how some­one so young and so ap­par­ently dis­turbed could so eas­ily ob­tain a firearm. We con­sider ways to reg­u­late that ac­cess without screw­ing with the Sec­ond Amend­ment. We con­sider in­stalling metal de­tec­tors in li­braries or arm­ing all li­brar­i­ans.

Briefly, all too briefly, we con­sider whether more men­tal health coun­sel­ing is needed, es­pe­cially by trou­bled youths.

We con­sider whether this kid should be locked away for­ever, as if that would solve any­thing.

We shake our heads and say, what a tragedy. We leave flow­ers in the blood­stains. Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials of­fer thoughts and prayers to Clovis. Gun safety ad­vo­cates im­plore gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to turn thoughts and prayers into re­spon­si­ble ac­tion. Peo­ple like me roll out the dev­as­tat­ing data on gun vi­o­lence. And so it goes — un­til it doesn’t.

But things are hap­pen­ing, said Mi­randa Vis­coli, co­pres­i­dent of New Mex­i­cans to Pre­vent Gun Vi­o­lence.

“There is no more time for com­pla­cency when it comes to gun vi­o­lence,” she said. “Not one per­son in this coun­try is safe from gun vi­o­lence; not moth­ers, chil­dren, fa­thers, friends, loved ones, Democrats or Repub­li­cans. This pub­lic health hazard has come to de­fine us both as state and a coun­try.”

Her group has seen some suc­cess, es­pe­cially with pro­grams that fo­cus on youth gun vi­o­lence. That in­cludes the Stu­dent Pledge Against Gun Vi­o­lence, which asks youths to get in­volved in pre­vent­ing the deadly use of firearms, and the Mu­rals to End Gun Vi­o­lence, art de­signed and cre­ated by stu­dents. The stu­dents are on their fourth mu­ral. Both pro­grams have only been im­ple­mented in North­ern New Mex­ico.

Ear­lier this month, Vis­coli’s group as­sisted Albuquerque res­i­dents Ron Schwartz and Yusef Lo­vato in cre­at­ing The Face of Gun Vi­o­lence, a web­site that memo­ri­al­izes those shot and killed in New Mex­ico since 1999.

Many of those faces are chil­dren.

The next big fo­cus is pro­mot­ing the group’s First Born pro­gram, which pro­vides new par­ents with gun locks and gun safety in­for­ma­tion, Vis­coli said.

Small but mean­ing­ful changes, she said. But big­ger things, like changes in law and pol­icy, con­tinue to stall out.

SB 259 — a bill the group pushed that would have for­bid­den do­mes­tic vi­o­lence abusers un­der re­strain­ing or­ders from pos­sess­ing guns while the or­der is in ef­fect — was ve­toed by Gov. Su­sana Martinez this year. So, what then? I don’t have the an­swers, but I know noth­ing will change if we can’t even be­gin a mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion from all sides of the gun de­bate. I’m get­ting tired of re­peat­ing my­self on that.

I’m tired of the plat­i­tudes and prom­ises that go nowhere. I’m tired of ask­ing gun own­ers to be more re­spon­si­ble with their ar­se­nals, tired of gun lovers think­ing that all gun safety ad­vo­cates want to do is take away their weaponry.

I’m tired of the noth­ing. I’m think­ing some of you are, too.

So start talk­ing. Keep talk­ing. And keep lis­ten­ing, too. Surely we can do that much this time.

ADOLPHE PIERRE-LOUISE/JOUR­NAL

ATF agents and local po­lice of­fi­cers in­ves­ti­gate Mon­day af­ter two were killed and four in­jured at the Clovis-Carver Pub­lic Li­brary. Nathaniel Jou­ett is charged with two counts of mur­der in the shoot­ing.

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