Crosses with the names of victims of a school shooting, are pictured at a memorial outside Robb Elementary school, after a gunman killed nineteen children and two teachers, in Uvalde, Texas. Reuters
Steve Lopez, Tribune News Service
Think about those innocent children in Texas, and don’t let them out of your mind. Think about their shock and fear as the gunman opened fire. Think about their suffering, their little bodies on the floor of the elementary school, the sirens, the screams.
Think about their parents, hoping, praying, waiting in agony.
Think about the brothers and sisters, the grandparents, entire families sentenced to lifetimes of the impossible — trying to make sense of senseless violence.
Think about the children who survived but will never escape the memory. Think about this deep dark sea of agony and let it stir your conscience. The temptation is to gasp, look away and move on, because it’s too painful to linger, and the next horror is just around the corner.
Don’t let yourself do it.
Wallow in grief. Be horrified. Be angry. Be committed to the idea that we’re all in the line of fire, that it could have been any of us, anywhere, at any time, because no one and nowhere is safe. Believe in the idea that this is not inevitable, it’s by design. Death by firearm is daily and everywhere in the United States because guns are everywhere.
With each mass shooting we beg for peace, but we’re armed for war, and blood is on the hands of many. The gun lobby. The apologists. The lawmakers who call for prayer but never for change. The people who buy guns for safety even though those arsenals put all of us at greater risk.
“We’ve experienced a massive, unprecedented increase in firearm purchasing that began in 2020 and, after a brief respite at the end of 2021, has continued to the present,” says Dr. Garen Wintemute, an emergency room physician and director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program.
“We are in effect conducting a nationwide experiment to answer the question, ‘What happens when a society experiences a massive increase in access to firearms along with increasing social and political polarization?’”
More from Wintemute and his team:
“Many people who plan to commit firearm violence — including 80% of mass shooters — make their intentions known in advance. Such warnings provide an opportunity for intervention before tragedy occurs. Extreme risk protection orders, known as gun violence restraining orders (GVROs) in California (and colloquially as ‘red flag’ orders), are such an intervention.”
Think about all the lives that could be saved with universal background checks, crackdowns on ghost guns and the elimination of assault weapons. Think about the enduring pain of Columbine in Colorado, Stoneman Douglas in Florida, the El Paso Walmart, the Orlando, Fla., nightclub, Virginia Tech, Las Vegas, San Bernardino, San Ysidro, Thousand Oaks and all the others. Think about the families who lost children at Sandy Hook and were then tormented by claims that the whole thing was staged and the grieving parents were crisis actors.
Think not just about the mass killings but the daily shootings, which claim far, far, far more lives.
Think about the sickness, anger, isolation, inequity and vast societal dysfunction that often drive violence, delivering epidemics of death and suffering to our poorest communities.
Ask yourself why no other country has our homicide rate. Use the power of your vote to elect gun control candidates and reject those who shill for the gun lobby.
Support one of the many organizations that are trying to make a difference, including the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, the Brady Campaign, the Newtown Action Alliance, Stop Handgun Violence and the Violence Policy Center, which released the following statement after the latest massacre:
“The cold horror of this attack should be unthinkable, but it has now become commonplace. Children’s lives are routinely sacrificed, families continually destroyed, and communities forever changed because of our nation’s suicidal embrace of the warped vision of America promoted by the firearms industry and gun lobby. As a nation, we should be disgusted at what we have become, ashamed at our surrender of public safety to those who promote increasingly lethal firearms as a solution to almost any problem, and enraged at those who dismiss these attacks as ‘the price of freedom.’”
Think about those innocent children in Texas, and don’t let them out of your mind.
May they rest in peace, and may we rise up in their name.
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