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Kin Man Hui/The San Antonio Express-News via AP / Men form a prayer circle at a memorial site for the victims of the Robb Elementary School shooting earlier this week.

"We must act!" "Do something!" "Policy and change!"

Social media is full of such expressions following the murder of innocents in a Uvalde, Texas, classroom earlier this week.

Such words are and will continue to be empty, though, unless they carry with them the willingness and ability to negotiate on changes in laws that are acceptable to federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The problem is nobody wants to move. Anti-gun zealots want to ban guns and force everybody who wants to own one to do something else. Pro-gun militants want to keep everything legal and not have to worry about being on somebody's list.

And the truth is, it's not really about the gun. It's about the person who possesses the gun.

Oh, sure, you can ban this one or that one, but the individual who wants to take action with a gun will find one and use it. Look at Chicago, for instance. Every weekend, the city — with strict gun-control laws — has shootings in the double digits. And you can bet very few, if any, of the guns used in the shootings are registered firearms.

So we go back to the individual. And mass murderers are not one-size-fits-all. If they were, we'd isolate the problem with all of them and end such carnage.

Were they loners? Did they have a problem with an employer? Do they have a diagnosed mental illness? Did they have an argument with a family member? Were they bullied?

That's why "do something" is such a useless expression.

But that's what Tennessee state Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, had in mind after the Texas shooting. He wanted a special legislative session called to deal with gun control.

He told a Nashville television station earlier this week he wanted to pass mental health care laws, repeal bad laws that have allowed mass shootings, use domestic violence indicators to limit people's access to firearms, and repeal the state's open carry law.

"Let's take legislative action now," Clemmons said. "Not later, now. Not after another shooting, not after more deaths. Now."

But which mental health care laws? Which bad laws? Which domestic violence indicators should limit access to firearms? On what basis would repealing the state's open carry law change what happened in Texas?

Clemmons' additional tweets are typical of why nothing seems to get done on the subject. When your initial reaction is to blame someone else, that pretty well locks down your side's lack of desire for compromise.

"Praying may make you feel better, @GovBillLee," he tweeted, "but you and your ilk's policies and ceaseless pandering to NRA are killing people. So you, @BillHagertyTN, @MarshaBlackburn and GOP legislators should either recognize you're complicit and change or do us all a favor and STHU [shut the hell up]."

Asked about Clemmons' comments by the Tennessee Star, Tennessee Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, called them "grandstanding."

"I don't understand the request to call for a special session due to the tragic event in Texas when the active shooter was 18, and Tennessee's law for permitless carry legislation is for individuals over the age of 21," he said in a previous statement. "During incidents like these, some will immediately blame the gun – I think we need to better understand our youth and students; we all know teen suicide rates are increasing. What is causing that? Why did this individual believe this action was appropriate? Were any signs missed?"

Sexton, based on information coming out as the week went on, was right to key on the perpetrator in the Uvalde shooting. The gunman has been called a loner, was said to have been bullied and is thought to have discussed the possibility of taking part in a mass shooting in the past.

Don't get us wrong, though. We're not gun fans. If it were up to us, we'd start all over with who can have guns and what's legal and what's not. But that's a ridiculous statement. We can't seal that bottle back up.

That's where our original point about negotiation on laws about specific guns and on other legislation dealing with who can have guns and how they must be registered comes in.

There's room for compromise, isn't there? Are we so far deeply buried in our individual sides that we can't come together, first, on the fringes of the argument, and then maybe on its most critical tenets?

But to get there, we should quit the empty phrases, stop the grandstanding and end the finger-pointing. They don't move the needle.

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