Understanding a Shooting in Texas

By Robert B. (Scott) Kuhnen

*This is an article from the Summer/Fall  2022 issue of Combat Stress

I hope we can all agree that to really understand a shooting in Texas and be able to do something constructive about it, we should analyze all the facts.

As we examine the totality of the event, we should analyze the motives and the circumstances which allowed the shooter to perpetrate this heinous act. This refers specifically to the Uvalde Elementary School shooting on May 24th of this year.

For example, were there signs in the background of the shooter which might have tipped us off to what might happen and what we might do to prevent targets from being shot and killed? There usually are such clear indications. Might we agree that, while uncomfortable, numerous people surrounding the shooter might have been able to warn of the potential for a terrible incident? What were the clues we might have seen? Then, even if apparently obvious to some, would we all agree on how to interpret those clues?  When and how do good people intercede?

We might agree that the first step in understanding any clues requires being dispassionate about our analysis. That is, not shade them through whatever lens we might choose to apply. Instead, we must keep the facts as clean and accurate as possible. Agree to remove biases.

Especially as we look back in hindsight, we should be able to separate fact from fiction or our own biases and prejudices to reach conclusions which all of us can support in order to help prevent future killings and to provide comfort and justice to the survivors.

As we analyze a shooting in Texas, might we agree on these ground rules and allow the facts to stand on their own to be used to help shape future actions (or inactions)? As recently shared by Matthew McConaughey, might we agree that surviving families would want their loved one’s loss of life to matter?

If you agree with this premise…this set of ground rules…,could we agree that they should be applied to each and every such horrific incident?

This should be our commitment to all victims and their families and our communities… to apply these ground rules equally and consistently. Let us honestly assess and then move forward to make improvements which protect lives. We owe this to all of us.

A Shooting in Texas: Fort Hood, 5 November 2009.

If we analyze this mass shooting in Texas, what dispassionate conclusions might we reach, especially in hindsight? Although characterized as “workplace violence,” was it that? Or, in the years since that shooting, might we now recognize and admit that testimony and facts have come to light which make it clear it was actually an act of Islamic terrorism? Does it matter, especially after all these years? Of course, it matters. It certainly matters to the families of the victims, not merely on a personal level (which it clearly does), but also it matters to them that others are not marginalized as if their loved one’s lives failed to matter.

An honest assessment and treating all victims of such acts fairly and equitably always matters, especially to those who volunteer to serve our country through military service and who end up paying the ultimate price. It matters that our country stands behind their service and their sacrifice.

The time is long past due to revisit that shooting in Texas and assure that those lost lives and the lives of the survivors and all their families are valued and matter.


Robert B. (Scott) Kuhnen retired from Federal Service in 2014 after more than 40 years combined military and civilian service in the USAF. A native Ohioan, he enlisted in the USAF directly out of high school and quickly found himself back in study at the Defense Language Institute (DLI), Monterey, CA.  As this occurred right as the U.S.S. Pueblo was being taken by the North Koreans in 1968, language specialists found themselves studying Korean and assigned to flight duty in Korea and Japan. Active duty years passed quickly and burnout was commonly experienced by those serving. The author was honorably discharged and soon found himself back in school at Kent State University where he graduated with honors in 1977. The start of a family made graduate school more difficult and the opportunity to join Federal Service (1978) in the Engineering Directorate of Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC) at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH very appealing. In spite of lacking an engineering degree, the author enjoyed a rewarding career serving in the Defense Standardization Program for both ASC and HQ Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) and as Scientific and Technical Information (STINFO) program manager for both ASC and HQ AFMC. The author considered public service to be a calling and he has continued to serve by raising funds for local Veteran organizations and causes like the Fisher House Foundation and Honor Flight-Dayton.


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