Op-ed: Supporting our commissioners in assessing our safety

Published 6:15 pm Saturday, July 2, 2022

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By Wayne Barry

I’m writing this on the 164th day of the year – there have already been 232 mass shootings recorded in our country; 232 is eight fewer than ALL of the mass shootings in 2021. What is wrong with this picture? Ten people were shot dead and three were injured in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York; two women were shot dead and their killer died by gun suicide on church property in Ames, Iowa; four people were killed and several injured by shooting, and the shooter died by gun suicide, at a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and 19 children and two teachers were senselessly shot to death in a school building in Uvalde, Texas by a civilian armed with a military assault weapon. Supermarket, schools, hospital, church . . . who wonders along with me if there is ANY sanctuary from gun violence?

And after trying to imagine a cadre of body-armored police officials crouched in a school hallway for more than an hour before charging the hostage taker-murderer of the 19 children and two teachers in an elementary school, can ANYONE really take seriously the suggestion that the only remedy for a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun?

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Reality begs this question: how safe are we on the Outer Banks? How safe are our children? Are we prepared to see Holy Redeemer Catholic Church or St. Andrew’s-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church become the sites of mass funeral celebrations?

At the June 6th Board of Commissioners’ meeting I highlighted a talk President Biden recently delivered to the nation in which he promoted several actions Congress should take at the national level; many of these measures have proved fairly successful since being enacted in the state of Florida. I also proposed that the Board of Commissioners authorize no less than 20 citizens of Dare County to formally study the nature of this national disease of gun violence and the threat it poses to the relative safety, security and calm we experience here on this miraculous piece of real estate. I recommended certain segments of our community be included on the 20-person commission, and I asked that the Board of Commissioners be prepared to report at their August meeting the progress they’ve made toward getting the team of 20 up and running. I was (19 school children) dead serious when I finally proposed that they include one student from each of Dare County’s five elementary schools on the study commission.

It seems appropriate now to propose that the community-at-large act: EVERY citizen reading this essay can devote her or himself to fully supporting the Board of Commissioners in their ongoing work of assessing, and improving where necessary, the quality of protective services we enjoy in Dare County. I propose that every citizen give serious consideration to being on the study commission if asked, and I propose that every citizen begin their own search efforts to protect themselves from this disease by visiting the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence website at bradyunited.org/the-brady-plan.

Let us work together to get this right . . . lives depend on it!!!

Wayne Barry is a retired school psychologist and member of the Christian Formation and Spirituality Committee at All Saints Episcopal Church in Southern Shores.