Another mass school shooting in America . . . the words roll over and over in my mind, hard to comprehend. Nineteen children and two adults were slaughtered—this time, at Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
Twentyone sets of parents mourn the loss of their children. Reports call this the 2nd deadliest school shooting in United States history. The 18-year-old shooter was shot and killed by responding police officers—too little, too late.
The aunt of a fourth-grade teacher, killed in the shooting, had this to say:
"I'm furious that these shooting continue, these children are innocent, rifles should not be easily available to all. This is ... my hometown a small community of less than 20,000. I never imagined this would happen, especially to loved ones . . . All we can do is pray hard for our country, state, schools and especially the families of all."
All we can do is pray? With all due respect to prayer, I don’t think so. We can do so much more. Many Americans will focus on this woman’s call to prayer. We have 1st Amendment religious rights in this country—if prayer helps you cope, pray. But the usual thoughts and prayers offered after incidents like this one will not stop future school shootings. My focus is on “rifles should not be easily available to all.” Below are two more quotes, from two United States senators, on opposite sides of the politics of guns.
Sen. Chris Murphy, Democrat
Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy was first elected to the Senate weeks before the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in his home state. Yesterday, Murphy, a strong advocate for sensible gun control, said this on the Senate floor:
“This only happens in this country and nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking they might be shot that day. Nowhere else to parents have to talk to their kids . . . about why they got locked into a bathroom and told to be quiet . . . in case a bad man entered that building.
“I’m here on this floor to beg, to literally get down on my hands and knees and beg my colleagues. Find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely . . . This only happens in the country and nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school thinking that they might be shot that day. Nowhere else do parents have to talk to their kids as I have had to do about why they get locked in a bathroom and told to be quiet for five minutes just in case a bad man entered that building.
“It is our choice to let it continue . . . we don’t have any more mental illness than any other country in the world. You cannot explain this through a prism of mental illness, because . . . we’re not an outlier on mental illness. We’re an outlier when it comes to access to firearms and the ability of criminals and very sick people to get their hands on firearms. That’s what makes America different . . .
“What are we doing? Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate? Why are you here if not to solve a problem as essential as this? It will not solve the problem of American violence by itself, but by doing something, we at least stop sending this quiet message of endorsement to these killers whose brains are breaking, who see the highest levels of government doing nothing, shooting after shooting.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, Republican
This latest mass shooting, like many others, happened in Senator Ted Cruz’s home state of Texas. Cruz is headed for the NRA annual meeting in Houston, later this week.
“When there's a murderer of this kind, you see politicians try to politicize it, you see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens . . .
"We are seeing way too many of these horrific mass murders. And we need to devote far more law enforcement resources to stopping violent criminals preventing these kinds of absolute acts of evil."
Do you notice a difference between the two lawmakers? Quite a contrast, no? Murphy makes an impassioned plea for common sense and cooperation to stop the carnage. Cruz utters not a single word about guns. Nothing about how a troubled 18-year-old gets his hands on automatic weapons and shoots his grandmother and a bunch of elementary school children.
Cruz is quick to protect rights of unborn children, but will do nothing, nothing, to protect the slaughter of children who are already here. He is one of the many hypocrites on these issues, spineless Republican lawmakers beholden to the gun lobby, proudly blocking any action on gun control.
Most political pundits predict Republican gains in the House of Representatives and the Senate in November. Forget Trumpism and fringe right-wingers for a moment. Focus on mainstream Republican positions on common and important issues like reproductive rights, gun control, universal health care, voting rights, gerrymandering, the Supreme Court, climate change, civil rights, taxes, and tort reform. The GOP platform is the antithesis of patriotism—immoral, anti-citizen, and anti-American.
The 2nd Amendment does not permit citizens to buy and carry any weapon any more than the 1st Amendment protects hate speech or calls for violent insurrection. Sensible gun control is not about the constitution or the flag, despite a growing number of Republicans wrapping themselves with a flag, suggesting that they are the patriots, America’s moral, constitutional authority. The GOP cares only about NRA money—forget the flag, the constitution, or the country.
What to Do?
What can we, the people do? Get out and vote in November. As important as the 2020 election was, only half of our country’s eligible voters turned out at the polls. To defeat redrawn districts, and anti-citizen political positions, we must do better. Eighty percent of our citizens want sensible gun control or some form of reproductive rights, but less than 50% vote. That’s how a 20% minority maintains control over these issues.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting a different result. If you want sensible legislation on these issues and more, this November, Democrats must vote in record numbers. Sensible Republican voters must repudiate their party’s current stance on these issues and part company with politicians who do not support change on gun control, reproductive rights, voting rights, health care, gender equality, or climate change.
After the school shooting in Parkland, FL, I wrote a novel about the issue, Betrayal High, offering common sense, constitutional solutions to the problem. These suggestions, if implemented, might have prevented Uvalde.
The time to act is now. Your fellow countrymen and women will be eternally grateful.
Mark M. Bello is an attorney and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series, ripped-from-the headlines, realistic fiction that speak truth to power and champion the rights of citizens in our justice system. These novels, dedicated to the social justice movement, are not only enjoyable, they educate, spark discussion and inspire readers to action. For more information, please visit www.markmbello.com. Mark also hosts the Justice Counts podcast with Lean to the Left editor & publisher Bob Gatty, presenting bi-weekly interviews focused on social justice.