Here we are again, counting up the bodies of dead kids. Of the 21 people killed in the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, two are teachers, 19 are children.
Those are words that no one should ever have to write, or read. Horrific, heartbreaking words that make our stomachs clench and our fists ball up in impotent rage. Words that make us want to yell to our friends or our family members or the skies above, why can’t we stop this very American form of slaughter?
But here we are. More than that, here we are again. A little more than four years after the Parkland school shooting. Six years since Pulse. A decade after Sandy Hook. Ten days after Buffalo. And on and on on on.
Will things change? Do we just have to live with this obscenity in our midst? Can we?
It is tempting to let despair take over, to hide away from the pain convulsing our country and our state and our South Florida community as we try to come to terms with yet another male gunman arming himself with weapons of war, buying far too many rounds of ammunition and murdering innocents.
We can try changing the subject, something the GOP has gotten very good at. Divert the nation’s rightful rage over this happening over and over with a chest-thumping defense of the Second Amendment, even though the 18-year-old Texas shooter has absolutely no resemblance to the “well-regulated militia” envisioned by the founders. We can even take that most profane of actions — talking to you, ex-President Trump — and reaffirm plans to speak at the National Rifle Association conference being held in, of all places, Texas next week.
How quickly can this country wash the blood of the fourth-graders who died at Robb Elementary School off its hands? Is it really just seven days?
What we can do
We act like there’s nothing we can do. But there are things we can do. We can ban assault weapons, those weapons of war that no individual should own, which were banned once before, until the law expired in 2004. In Florida, we can reject, in no uncertain terms, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ stated goal to pass a “constitutional carry” law in Florida that would remove all requirements for training or licensing for gun owners.
Or — and this is even easier — we can start with passage of a bill (H.R.8) that would strengthen background checks on gun purchasers. It has been stalled in Congress — by Republicans in the Senate, to be precise — since 2019, even though the House has passed the bill. It would expand criminal background checks to internet gun buyers and those at gun shows, closing those loopholes.
It is a moderate bill. There is nothing in it that could be construed as taking away people’s guns. Poll after poll has indicated that Americans strongly support this idea. Republican senators haven’t let it come to vote. Florida, of course, has two Republican senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. Rubio is up for reelection in November.
As Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said in his blazing pregame speech Tuesday, which he devoted solely to this issue, “We are being held hostage by 50 senators in Washington who refuse to even put it to a vote, despite what we the American people want. They won’t vote on it, because they want to hold on to their own power.”
We are sick of “thoughts and prayers.” We have no more patience for moments of silence that do nothing to change things. We need action by our lawmakers. We need it in the Senate, and we need it right away.