Ambulances responding to mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas
Ambulances responding to mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas

Four­teen young stu­dents and one teacher are dead after a gun­man tar­get­ed and attacked Robb Ele­men­tary School in Uvalde, Texas, in what has trag­i­cal­ly become just the lat­est in an increas­ing­ly long list of Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties that have been sense­less­ly ripped apart by pre­ventable gun violence.

“The dead­ly shoot­ing began 11:43 AM [Cen­tral Time] Tues­day at Robb Ele­men­tary off Old Car­ri­zo Road near U.S. High­way 83,” SBG San Anto­nio report­ed. “Robb Ele­men­tary has an enroll­ment of just under 600 students.”

Uvalde, which has a pop­u­la­tion of 15,751, is about eighty-four miles away from San Anto­nio. It has been described as a tight knit com­mu­ni­ty both by res­i­dents and by nation­al reporters who are now sta­tioned in town to report on the tragedy.

The per­pe­tra­tor, whose name we will not men­tion here, was an eigh­teen year old who resided in the area. The author­i­ties say that he is deceased. Report­ed­ly, he was armed with mul­ti­ple weapons, includ­ing a rifle as well as a hand­gun. It’s still ear­ly in the inves­ti­ga­tion, so many details aren’t yet available.

But this we know: four­teen beau­ti­ful young chil­dren who had their lives ahead of them are dead, along with a teacher. They were slaugh­tered with guns.

The shoot­ing is the coun­try’s dead­liest so far this year, and hor­rif­i­cal­ly sim­i­lar to a shoot­ing from almost ten years ago, in which a gun­man attacked Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School in New­town, Con­necti­cut. After that atroc­i­ty and oth­ers, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and then-Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden made gun safe­ty a top pri­or­i­ty and brought pro­pos­als for­ward to Con­gress to strength­en gun safety.

Con­gress, how­ev­er, took no action. At the urg­ing of the gun lob­by, Sen­ate Repub­li­cans used the fil­i­buster to block any leg­is­la­tion from being considered.

At the state lev­el, Demo­c­ra­t­ic-con­trolled states like Con­necti­cut and Wash­ing­ton began pass­ing gun safe­ty laws to pre­vent and reduce gun violence.

Mean­while, Texas and Repub­li­can states did the oppo­site. At the behest of the gun lob­by, they made it eas­i­er to get a gun and com­mit mur­der with a gun.

Con­se­quent­ly, sense­less gun vio­lence has con­tin­ued to plague the Unit­ed States.

Texas Gov­er­nor Greg Abbott, who is seek­ing reelec­tion this autumn, non­sen­si­cal­ly stat­ed fol­low­ing the slaugh­ter of four­teen young chil­dren and a teacher that what hap­pened is “a hor­rif­ic tragedy that can­not be tol­er­at­ed in the state of Texas.”

But cur­rent state pol­i­cy — request­ed, endorsed, and imple­ment­ed by Greg Abbott — is that such tragedies can and will be tolerated.

When your response to mass shoot­ings is to make it eas­i­er to buy a gun and use a gun to injure or mur­der oth­er peo­ple, you’re set­ting the stage for more atroc­i­ties like this. You’re say­ing it’s pub­lic pol­i­cy to “tol­er­ate” such carnage.

Mass shoot­ings are not com­mon­place in oth­er devel­oped coun­tries. They hap­pen over and over and over again in Amer­i­ca because we allow them to hap­pen.

As The Onion puts it in a fake news sto­ry it often repub­lish­es (‘No Way To Pre­vent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Reg­u­lar­ly Hap­pens), the Repub­li­can posi­tion on pre­vent­ing gun vio­lence is the rhetor­i­cal equiv­a­lent of a shrug:

“It’s a shame, but what can we do? There real­ly wasn’t any­thing that was going to keep this guy from snap­ping and killing a lot of peo­ple if that’s what he real­ly want­ed.” At press time, res­i­dents of the only eco­nom­i­cal­ly advanced nation in the world where rough­ly two mass shoot­ings have occurred every month for the past five years were refer­ring to them­selves and their sit­u­a­tion as “help­less.”

Gun enthu­si­asts who oppose gun safe­ty laws often cite the Sec­ond Amend­ment to jus­ti­fy this con­tin­ued help­less­ness. But the Sec­ond Amend­ment does not say thou shalt not pass any gun safe­ty laws. It speaks of rights and respon­si­bil­i­ties that need to be in bal­ance. That is why the words “well reg­u­lat­ed mili­tia” are there.

Sen­a­tor Chris Mur­phy of Con­necti­cut, who is one of the most elo­quent and out­spo­ken cham­pi­ons for gun safe­ty in Con­gress, got up and deliv­ered a must-watch speech in the Sen­ate fol­low­ing the shoot­ing in Uvalde in which he rhetor­i­cal­ly asked his Repub­li­can col­leagues: Why are you here?

Said Mur­phy:

“Why do you go through all the has­sle of get­ting this job, of putting your­self in a posi­tion of author­i­ty, if your answer is that, as the slaugh­ter increas­es, as our kids run for their lives, we do noth­ing? What we are we doing? Why are you here?”

Pres­i­dent Biden, who is just return­ing from a mul­ti-day trip to Asia, will address what has hap­pened in Texas in a speech from the Roo­sevelt Room, the White House says. That speech is sched­uled ten­ta­tive­ly for 5:15 PM Pacif­ic Time.

Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray, the third rank­ing Demo­c­rat in the Sen­ate, says she is eager and enthu­si­as­tic to pass laws to tack­le the scourge of gun vio­lence, if Repub­li­cans will stop lis­ten­ing to the dic­tates of the gun lob­by and coop­er­ate with Democrats.

“No one should have to endure the pain of los­ing a child like this,” said Murray.

“That’s what we’re talk­ing about here. Chil­dren. Chil­dren gunned down in their class­rooms, lives cut short and fam­i­lies shattered.’

“How many more lives have to be lost and how much more heart­break must we suf­fer before my Repub­li­can col­leagues wake up to what the major­i­ty of Amer­i­cans have known for years? Gun safe­ty laws save lives.”

“Every time my Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­leagues and I have come to the Sen­ate floor with pop­u­lar leg­is­la­tion to help pre­vent gun vio­lence, our Repub­li­can col­leagues block us from even debat­ing the bills — let alone vot­ing on them. Think about that. They won’t even allow a debate on leg­is­la­tion that would save lives.”

“In the com­ing days and weeks, Repub­li­cans will not be able to hide from the ques­tions that par­ents around the coun­try are ask­ing: what are you doing to pre­vent the next school shoot­ing? What are you doing to pro­tect our chil­dren so they can go to school with­out fear? I am ready to work with any one of my Sen­ate col­leagues to take imme­di­ate action to pro­tect our kids and end the gun vio­lence cri­sis in our country.”

Our team can­not think of any­thing that would be more pro-life than pre­vent­ing chil­dren from being slaugh­tered in their class­rooms. When Amer­i­cans go to wor­ship at a church, syn­a­gogue, or mosque, they should be safe. When they go to the movie the­ater, they should be safe. When strolling through a park, or a shop­ping mall, or using mass tran­sit, they should be safe.

To any­one read­ing this who con­sid­ers them­selves to be a fam­i­ly-ori­ent­ed “pro-life” con­ser­v­a­tive, we ask you: Are you will­ing to join us in demand­ing that Repub­li­can elect­ed offi­cials stop doing what the gun lob­by wants and start lis­ten­ing to the vast major­i­ty of peo­ple in this coun­try who want to pre­vent gun vio­lence? Because it’s with­in your pow­er to be the change and do more than just pray this does­n’t keep hap­pen­ing, week after week and month after month.

And for those on the reli­gious right, con­sid­er that the God you are pray­ing to is fer­vent­ly hop­ing that one day, you will tru­ly learn and appre­ci­ate what it means to love your neigh­bor as your­self, and val­ue lives over guns.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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