A man carries a child out of a recreation center set up for students to get reunited with their parents after a shooting at a suburban Denver middle school Tuesday, May 7, 2019, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

I would like to think the worst part of Tuesday’s school shooting in Highlands Ranch was that we know the drill.

Horrifyingly, we do know the drill when it comes to students or strangers bringing guns to school and shooting up the place, killing and maiming whomever they can.

Every parent knows, however, the worst part of the Highlands Ranch shooting is the kids who were shot and killed, and their victimized families. Similarly, the worst part of this week’s school shooting are the thousands of kids, parents, friends and relatives at the school whose children were terrified and permanently scarred from the attack, although they count themselves as lucky for not being among the dead and wounded.

In what seemed like just minutes after word got out about this week’s school shooting, Douglas County Sheriff Department officials stood before cameras, explaining how their solid training, bravery and proximity enabled trained police officials to get almost immediately inside the school and interrupt two shooters just minutes after the first 911 call went out.

They were amazing.

More incredible, however, is that this is our response to America’s repugnant gun-violence plague, which now regularly affects all children and schools. No doubt, gun-rights zealots and their elected champions will be touting how lives were saved because we train police to rescue children being murdered in their classrooms. They do this to deflect from the horror of lives lost and damaged so our nation can serve some warped interpretation of the Constitution’s Second Amendment.

It’s obscene that we tolerate such corruption from elected officials, who laud plans to reduce the bloodshed instead of prevent it.

Get rid of them. A growing number of elected officials are calling out such perversity for what it is.

Newly elected Congressman Jason Crow wasted no time yesterday pushing back against the insulting chime of gun-rights extremists and their elected lackeys for immediately offering tweets of “thoughts and prayers.”

“It is not enough to send thoughts and prayers, it is empty, it is weak, and it does an injustice to our children who are on the front lines of this violence,” Crow said in a statement. “We must pass common-sense gun violence laws and ensure we are preparing our educators and law enforcement with the tools and resources necessary to create a safe and welcoming environment. This must stop.”

He’s right. And he recently replaced GOP U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, who as a congressman actively worked against gun-control laws that could have prevented this week’s deadly school shooting.

In fact, a host of Republican gun-rights extremists were tossed out their Colorado legislative offices by voters last fall. Their absence ended years of obstruction in the state Senate, allowing, finally, the state to pass a red-flag gun-control bill that allows police to separate guns from mentally ill people in crisis.

In a writhing twist of cruel coincidence and irony, the brave and astonishingly persistent Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock was a leading proponent of that red-flag bill this year. He suffered withering criticism from a bevy of fellow Republican Colorado sheriffs for backing the cause. He was ostracized by the same cowardly Republican Douglas County commissioners who had the gall to stand behind him at a press conference yesterday after the STEM school shooting.

It takes little imagination to see where having implemented the red-flag bill last year might have saved a Highlands Ranch STEM school student this year.

In another freakish coincidence, the state House legislator who represents the community where this shooting occurred has been a stalwart opponent of the red-flag and other common-sense gun control bills. GOP state Rep. Patrick Neville not only attended Columbine High School during the school shooting there 20 years ago, he is a lauded leader in the movement to arm teachers in schools, rather than pass gun control laws.

After I criticized Neville earlier this year for his moronic stance, Republican staffers in the House emailed reporters here saying no Sentinel writers would be permitted to speak with GOP House members because of my editorial views on the opinion page.

That’s who’s calling the shots, folks. Elected officials beholden to the likes of the National Rifle Association and, worse, wild-eyed and vicious gun-extremists from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

Look past the lies and inanity, Colorado. We have two choices: Get the guns away from the people who are or become mentally ill and motivated to shoot up schools and other public places, or keep these mentally ill people away from guns.

No doubt we need to do both. We need laws that register guns and tightly license owners. It’s illegal to leave your car running in Aurora but perfectly legal to leave loaded guns lying around the house or tucked in jacket pockets in the closet. It’s endlessly harder to legally drive a truck than it is to buy and fire a gun. There are no limits to how much ammo you can purchase and store. Adolescents like the kid that shot up the STEM school this week can legally buy endless deadly guns but not beer.

We can’t do anything, however, until we elect more people like Crow to Congress, and vote people out like Neville from state legislatures.

Nothing else will do a damn bit of good.

Here’s what will happen if the Nevilles in Colorado and the nation get booted: Other Republicans and cringing pro-gun Democrats will vote with gun-control advocates because they value their seats in Congress and state legislatures more than they value gun rights. And they know it. And you know it.

Vote for candidates who offer real plans — not thoughts and prayers — to stem the scourge of gun violence and school shootings.

Follow EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or dperry@SentinelColorado.com