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Sultan: Another day, another massacre of American school kids

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APTOPIX Texas School Shooting

A woman cries as she leaves the Uvalde Civic Center, Tuesday May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing multiple children and a teacher and wounding others, Gov. Greg Abbott said, and the gunman was dead. (William Luther/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

I don’t feel numb to the massacre of children in American schools.

I feel a growing anguished disgust.

This week, an 18-year-old man fatally shot at least 21 people at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. It’s just the latest in a long series of uniquely American horror stories. The reason each school shooting feels worse than the one preceding it is precisely because it keeps happening. We know how to make them less likely, but a group of GOP politicians hold our children hostage.

The Republicans are now wholly owned by the National Rifle Association, which is owned by the gun manufacturers. They continue to deny evidence and common sense that improving gun safety laws would mean fewer such tragedies.

Their denial is deadly for America’s children.

Why should a disturbed 18-year-old be able to buy two AR-15 rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition — enough to wipe out an entire school? Why is America the only country where this keeps happening? Why do we allow our children to be traumatized by intruder drills, by the fear of never feeling safe at school, by classmates and teachers being gunned down?

Guns are now the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in America.

We are a sick country.

As I followed the reports on Twitter of the events in Uvalde, I was struck by these observations and how the “debate” following these mass gun crimes often goes in the same circles.

Think about how gruesome this is: “The parents had to provide DNA samples because their children’s bodies had been mutilated beyond recognition,” wrote historian Kevin M. Kruse.

What if Americans had to face the images of the brutalized victims of these mass shootings? How much longer would we tolerate these shooting sprees?

Teachers and former educators described the terror and trauma of intruder drills and the unthinkable scenarios they are forced to act out with the smallest children.

  • “What they don’t tell you is teachers are told in training that they have to lock out any of their students who are out of the classroom, out of the classroom.Even if they beg and bang on the door. Because there could be a shooter using them to access your classroom,” wrote Erin Hahn.

What if a kindergartener uses the bathroom and gets stuck in a hallway during an intruder drill — or the worst possible nightmare — an actual attack. That 5-year-old could be crying and banging on his teacher’s door to be let inside, and he is left outside alone — in case a killer is stalking them.

Others pointed out how quickly the country is able to take action when important adults feel threatened as opposed to vulnerable children.

“Ten days ago it took the Senate about twenty minutes to unanimously pass a bill extending security protection to the family members of Supreme Court justices when it looked like a house might be picketed,” noted Kieran Healy.

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott won in the category of tweets that did not age well.

“I’m EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans. @NRA,” he tweeted on Oct. 28, 2015. This post was not deleted after the mass shootings in El Paso or Uvalde. When asked at a press conference about gun safety reforms (he’s signed dozens of bills making it easier to buy guns in Texas), he pivoted to the gun violence in Chicago.

Journalist Kelly Bauer responded with some relevant facts.

“A reminder: ~ 60% of ‘crime guns’ taken in by Chi police are bought in other states where laws are more lenient. The feds ‘let some of the Chicago area’s most notorious gun sellers off the hook for serious violations.’”

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker also pointed out that majority of guns used in Chicago crimes come from outside the state, many from neighboring states with lax gun laws.

So, what is the Republican response to gun violence?

“Republicans’ ultimate answer to Texas: armed officers in school (or teachers trained to repel shooters). But guess what? There was an armed officer in Uvalde, & then two more arrived on the scene. They didn’t stop the killer, who was in the school for an hour before being killed,” wrote legal analyst and scholar Harry Litman.

In fact, “Not one, not two, but three armed cops tried to stop the Texas shooter before he killed 19 schoolchildren,” wrote Alex Thomas.

More than 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks for gun purchases.

“I personally own a closet full of guns. I also have a concealed carry permit. And I will ‘happily’ fill out more paperwork and have my background checked if it means little kids get to go home to their parents at night. The Senate needs to vote on HR 8 now @SenSchumer,” tweeted Zack Nelson.

He’s referring to the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. It expands background checks to private gun sales and gun shows. HR 8 passed the House in March 2021. All 50 GOP senators and Democrat Joe Manchin are opposed to it in the Senate.

Ultimately, national Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman succinctly captured our values and who America has become:

“The truth is, one nation under guns.”

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