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Guns or our kids: That’s the choice.

“I am no longer interested in how we got here. I am only interested in how we get out.”

3 min read

The morning after Kentucky’s primary elections, when all talk centered on newly-minted GOP nominee Daniel Cameron and whether or not he would pick Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles as his running partner, I was sitting on my back porch, reading about the recovery of Louisville Police Officer Nick Wilt.

Wilt was shot in the head five weeks ago during a mass shooting at Old National Bank, and survived. He is 26 years old. According to WDRB news, “Wilt has remained in critical condition and battled pneumonia before he was able to be taken off a ventilator. He was moved to Frazier Rehab on May 10, where he has ‘shown signs of improvement during his first week.’”

It turns out Kentucky’s primary election day was also the one-year anniversary of the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, so I went inside, poured another cup of coffee, and went back out onto the porch to read about that, too.

That is when I realized I had forgotten the details (19 children and two teachers were murdered, plus 17 wounded) and I felt a sick pit in my stomach. It was only a year ago. How is it possible to forget something like this?

And yet, we know how we forget, don’t we?

We forget because there are so many shootings and mass shootings we can’t keep up.


As I write this, I receive the following alert. “Law enforcement officials are working the scene of a possible active shooter at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet building” after “dispatch received a call just before 3 p.m. Wednesday that there was an active shooter in the building.”

I immediately call a friend who works in the Transportation Cabinet. By dumb luck, she is working at home today. I receive a text from another friend saying her niece works nearby and heard shots fired. Another message tells me school kids are on the Capitol grounds and have been evacuated to a nearby church for their safety. A friend who lives in Frankfort emails that there are helicopters. I am told people are being led out of the building with their hands up. A reporter tweets that Frankfort police have no confirmation of an active shooter, casualties, or anyone injured.

Everyone is confused and speculating and panicking. But no one is surprised.

This is how we live.

While I waited for more information, I pulled up Kentucky Educational Television’s May 1 gubernatorial debate and looked for the discussion about guns.

When asked, Cameron responded that the Second Amendment is “sacrosanct” and that he is not interested in discussing anything related to gun control.

Meanwhile, Officer Wilt continues to recover from a gunshot wound to the head. And as I write this, our Transportation Cabinet building is being evacuated because of a suspected shooter. I am no longer interested in how we got here. I am only interested in how we get out.

In the last few days, an 18 year-old killed three and wounded six (including two police officers) in Farmington, New Mexico, after he opened fire on random cars and houses with an AR-15.

In Harris County, Texas,  a preschooler found an unsecured pistol and shot his 1-year-old sibling. The injuries were not life threatening.

Outside Dallas, “a 12-year-old and a 20-year-old are both facing a murder charge after a restaurant employee was gunned down during an altercation with a customer Saturday night.”

In Shively, Kentucky, on Mother’s Day, a person was shot at an animal hospital. “Police said a fight happened at the animal hospital resulting in the shooting of a 20 year-old man. He was taken to UofL Hospital where he later died from his injuries.”

At a shopping mall in Allen, Texas, “a gunman shot and killed eight people, including three children, and injured at least seven others.” As a mom, I can’t stop thinking about the mothers who were shot to death protecting their children.

In the KET debate, Cameron used the word “sacrosanct” when asked about the Second Amendment. Cameron also says he is pro-life.

Now that he has secured the Republican nomination for governor, he should be required to tell Kentuckians which is more “sacrosanct”: unfettered access to unsecured firearms with no regulations? Or living, breathing, human beings, including our children?

I dread his answer.


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Teri Carter

Teri Carter writes about rural Kentucky politics for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Washington Post, and The Daily Yonder. She lives in Anderson County.