Be Strong, Sound and Secure: Supporting Uvalde

As I write, the nation is reeling after a young gunman shot and killed 19 school children and 2 adults in Uvalde, Texas. I have received concerned emails from friends across the nation. And I have listened-in on conversations with elected officials struggling to find answers and to respond to questions about how this could have happened, and how we might stop future occurrences of gun violence.

Uvalde is a beautiful city located west of San Antonio. In years past, I visited Governor Briscoe and his bank there, First State Bank of Uvalde. By way of background, the bank came under control of the Briscoe Family in 1960. It has a distinguished history and was founded in 1907. I know personally that during our nation’s economic downturn ca. 2010 (which is when it reached Texas in my opinion), some of my prior donors moved their money to First State Bank of Uvalde for safekeeping, trusting its conservative and smart leadership.

Inauguration of Governor Briscoe in 1972 by Jay Phagan, Wikipedia Commons

Wikipedia notes, “During his two terms as governor, Briscoe balanced increasing demands for more state services and a rapidly growing population. As the governor elected during a period of social unrest and skepticism about the motives of elected officials, he helped restore integrity to a state government fallen into disgrace as a result of the Sharpstown scandals [stock fraud]. Briscoe’s terms as governor led to a landmark events and achievements, including the most extensive ethics and financial disclosure bill in state history, passage of the Open Meetings and Open Records legislation, and strengthened laws regulating lobbyists. Briscoe also presided over the first revision of the state’s penal code in one hundred years.”

You may have read my blog article, A Brief Account: Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe Jr. In that discussion, I share my professional experiences with Governor Briscoe and my prior work with the South Texas Council, Boy Scouts of America. At the time, we eagerly sought Governor Briscoe’s participation in a video featuring civic leaders across Texas, who gave testimonials about the merits of Scouting. Our interview with Governor Briscoe was one of the most memorable of that particular project, and of our lives. In truth, we thought we might not get the appointment to interview and film him, as he did not agree to meet with many. But we were ultimately approved, and our BSA team met with the Governor at First State Bank of Uvalde in his private office.

The tragic events of May inspired me to remember that experience, and Governor Briscoe’s advice.

… “Those who have had the benefit of the Scouting experience are not the problems of the present, and do not become the problems of the future. Today, our State government and its taxpayers support a very expensive system of enforcing law and order, a judicial system and a penal system. If we were able to reach more young boys with the Scouting program, the cost of those programs would decrease dramatically.

Those who have benefited from the Scout program do not create problems, nor do they require additional law enforcement that jams and clogs the judicial system, or overpopulate the penal system. The cost of government in the future would be greatly reduced if the Scouting program reached a much larger percentage of our young people.

Governor Dolph Briscoe Jr.

My father was a Scout for five years. When I began working with the BSA, I immediately recognized the training my father had conveyed to my younger sister and me as children, as it came directly from Scouting! We often think today that Scouting is just for boys, but it has broadened its offerings to include girls. One of my favorite mantras from Scouting is, “leave no trace.” I live by that motto today when it comes to respecting the natural world. Having supported environmental education nonprofits for many years, I believe Scouting was the first, and it is one of the most effective environmental education organizations in the United States and the world.

If the young Uvalde shooter had been enrolled in Scouting and had the benefit of its ethical and life skills training, I believe the May tragedy would not have occurred. Yes, I know the BSA has experienced organizational challenges in recent years, but I also know it has become more rigorous than ever in carefully managing staff and volunteers. In my opinion, we need more Scouting for young people in the months and years ahead.

The tag line of First State Bank of Uvalde is, “Strong, Sound and Secure.” It was adopted during the mid-1980s when Texas faced a crippling real estate downturn. And I know a few of my prior donors found the bank secure place for investment during the economic downturn ca. 2010, as noted above. That is why, if you would like to contribute in support of the victims of the May shooting in Uvalde, I recommend the bank’s special fund:

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District created a bank account at First State Bank of Uvalde where people can send funds to shooting victims and their families. Funds can be sent electronically through Zelle using the email robbschoolmemorialfund@gmail.com or through the mail to 200 E. Nopal St., Uvalde, Texas 78801. Make checks payable to the “Robb School Memorial Fund.”

First State Bank of Uvalde

Society will also be “strong, sound and secure” if it provides life skills like those offered by Scouting to young people across Texas and America. Scouting dovetails well with traditional school curriculum and it enhances it. Scouting provides mental strength and clarity, and vital skills young people will use throughout their lives. I have found Scouting also provides invaluable support for single parents – particularly mothers – raising young boys. And Scouting welcomes people of all faiths and socio-economic backgrounds. It is an incredibly valuable program.

Yes, I do think gun purchase should be restricted across the nation. The New York Times comments about mass shooters, “They fit in a critical age range — roughly 15 to 25 — that law enforcement officials, researchers and policy experts consider a hazardous crossroads for young men, a period when they are in the throes of developmental changes and societal pressures that can turn them toward violence in general, and, in the rarest cases, mass shootings” (June 2, 2022).

And yes, I also believe in the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. But those allowed to acquire and use guns need to be properly trained and mentally fit. Our President and several Texas leaders have voiced the need for mental health solutions and monitoring going forward. I suggest that Scouting and similar programs be considered when it comes to developing “mental fitness” in young people everywhere.

Punishment is the last and the least effective instrument in the hands of the legislator for the prevention of crime.

John Ruskin, English writer (1819 to 1900)

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