Find a common road to safety

By Wendy Byerly Wood
Wendy Byerly Wood -

While many people were out doing last-minute back-to-school shopping or enjoying the last warm weather on the Sunday before the first day of school, a community in Florida was hit with yet another mass shooting incident. This time I’ve not seen near as much discussion of the incident on social media. It breaks my heart that I have to even write “this time.”

The gaming community in Florida was the target for 24-year-old Madden player, David Katz, who had traveled to Jacksonville from Baltimore, Maryland. Katz is the suspect who officers said killed himself after opening fire at the Madden tournament Sunday afternoon.

After all of the other mass shootings, why are we having another “this time” incident?

I don’t know the answer to solve the problem. I think that takes the work of many people willing to come to the table and compromise on a number of issues, with two of the obvious being mental health and gun control.

According to one national news article, Katz had been treated previously with mental health-related medications, including anti-depressants. But over the last couple of months, he’d also been able to legally purchase weapons in Maryland, which has one of the strictest gun laws in the United States.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t have the right to defend themselves, their families and their property if they feel threatened, but at some point, a compromise should be reached to address what is and isn’t included in background checks, including a person’s medical history.

Also, while it may seem inconvenient to many people, and unnecessary to others, when large gatherings are planned, this might be the proper time to start requiring clear bags at events and metal detectors when stricter measures are needed to protect the greater public. Last year, my family went to a motocross event in Greensboro and all bags and pockets were emptied and everyone was required to go through the metal detectors. You wouldn’t believe the number of pocket knives that had been discarded at the doors because they weren’t allowed in and people didn’t want to walk back to their vehicles.

Families should be able to go to the fair, the circus, the shopping mall, a concert, a sporting event, a race, even a video game tournament, and not worry about their safety. Organizers of events need to be more proactive in what they do and do not allow in these areas, because apparently policies on mental health and gun control are not changing or compromising to address public safety issues.

Public safety should not be an issue that is divided by an aisle between political parties. This affects everyone, Republican, Democrat, young and old, Christians in church and people at sporting events, music lovers and video game enthusiasts.

Why are we not all coming together to attempt a compromise? Put your stubborn, hard-headed ways aside in this one instance and work together to find a resolution.

No, I don’t think changes will stop every incident of violence. There will always be people hurting and willing to hurt others, but changes and compromises could greatly decrease the number of incidences by increasing the safety of the general public when they are gathered in mass at events which might make targets.

Think about it, how would you like to champion change? What compromise and sacrifice are you willing to make in order to create safer places for your family and friends? Let’s find a common road and travel it, for the greater good of safety. I don’t want to have to write “this time” anymore.

Wendy Byerly Wood is editor of The Tribune and The Yadkin Ripple. She may be reached at, 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

Wendy Byerly Wood Byerly Wood

By Wendy Byerly Wood