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?
“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.