Well, here we are—again.
Let me start with my sadness. I am so heartbroken. I see the faces of young children, the faces of hard-working teachers, the light in their eyes gone in an instant. My heart breaks for the people they have left behind, the survivors, the parents, the grandparents, the friends. Those are the people who wish they were dead because then they wouldn’t have to process the pain, trauma, and grief of losing their son, their daughter, their best friend, their cousin, their world.
I will move on to my disgust. I am disgusted with politicians, lawmakers, the wealthy, the powerful, the minority ruling class, the people who turn a blind eye to these shootings despite the country’s OVERWHELMING desire to see balanced gun reform measures put in place. There is money to be made by selling the fear. Suggesting that we should all be armed to prevent this from happening is not only faulty logic, it is morally reprehensible. I am disgusted with “pro-life” hypocrites who say nothing when people are gunned down in grocery stores, churches, schools. If you are pro-life, you should be protesting every gun show and eating vegan in addition to incessantly berating women about what to do with their own bodies. I am disgusted with congressman Tony Gonzalez, who represents the people of Uvalde and who told Gayle King this morning that “today isn’t the day to debate gun policy,” and King said, “If not now, when?” He is not serving his constituency if all he has to offer are hopes and prayers. I am disgusted by the NRA convention happening this weekend in Houston where the governor of Texas will speak. I would love to know his topic. The former president will also speak at the convention (ironically, there are no guns allowed in the room where he will speak). And then there’s Ted Cruz who said meaningless words in front of cameras yesterday just hours after this shooting. His actions and his campaign contributions reek of his complicity in gun violence, and the stink overpowers any platitudes he might offer. And don’t get me started on Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Speaking of those who gape their toxic mouth-holes when they should probably shut the hell up, Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted yesterday that the solution to gun violence is to take a “serious” look at mental health. Well she got that right, our country’s obsession with owning guns is certainly a sign of mental illness. There are more guns in the United States than there are people even though only 3 in 10 people own a gun. That is not an exaggeration. The Pew research center did a study on the demographics of gun ownership in 2017 but I imagine those numbers have only gone up. And by the way, if you have a mental illness, you still have the right to own a gun in this country or keep the guns you already have. Red flag laws are not universally enforced. Saying mental illness is the reason we have gun violence is like saying smores are the reason we have wildfires. If only Marjorie Taylor Greene had followed that statement on mental illness with her own admission that she needs help; looking remorsefully at her giant home arsenal and the monster she has become. No, in her psychologically untrained and uneducated mind, we are over-medicating adolescents and that is what causes them to LEGALLY purchase firearms, walk into public buildings, and kill people. I think the logic and reason choo choo train left MTG’s brain a long time ago. Her obsession with guns and shameless alacrity to gaslight others about what really causes gun violence is most certainly part of the problem. Get a therapist, Marjorie, and then promptly fuck right the fuck off.
Which leads me to my rage. I am fucking pissed, apoplectic, and indignant. I am mad at my cousin and my stepson for believing that guns are a necessary part of their lives. I am mad at complete strangers on twitter who bark about “good guys with guns” when the data shows how zero mass shootings have been stopped by a good guy with a gun. I am mad at my congressional representative, Ken Buck, who has accepted thousands of dollars from the NRA in order to finance his campaigns. In my view, the NRA should be designated as a terrorist organization. Terrorist organizations use money, power, and violence as weapons to achieve their goals. How is the NRA any different? Personal responsibility is their excuse but complicity is their indictment. And don’t give me the rhetorical nonsense about the second amendment, liberty, freedom, blah blah blah. If the founding fathers believed that people would venerate guns in this country, or if the British had access to AR-15s in the Revolutionary War, they probably would’ve made the second amendment a little more nuanced. And let me be clear, that is the only time I will write the word nuanced in this essay. There is nothing nuanced about what guns are doing to us as a nation.
When I was living in Spain, the Columbine school shooting happened. It was stunning and incomprehensible to me. It was 1999 and accessing information about it was not easy. I remember nervously waiting to get a call from my mom who was an administrator at a high school 45 minutes from Columbine. She was okay, but really, none of us would ever be okay again. When I was teaching at Niwot High and the school shooting happened at Sandy Hook, all the teachers were sitting in the library having a holiday party. We sat together in disbelief and heartbreak and said to each other and ourselves, “well, this will be the last time, surely we, as a nation, will prevent this from happening again.” It wasn’t the last time. And now we are faced with the same question, what are we going to do now?
It is folly to pretend we live in the same world that we lived in before the pandemic, no part of our society or infrastructure is the same. And it is folly to pretend that America is a great society. No society is great if its citizens live in fear of violence when they go to the grocery store. But this “new normal” we are emerging into from the pandemic has some potential. Today, Beto O’Rourke crashed a press conference to confront Governor Abbott about the incredibly lax gun laws in Texas and said, “This was totally predictable,” and “This is on you”. In a world of Greg Abbotts, be a Beto, you know? Beto O’Rourke is emboldened by civic service and completely unafraid to speak truth to power and why should he be? What do any of us have to lose when we confront those in power and call them on their bullshit? The answer comes when we measure what we have already lost.
The foundations of our society allow us great latitude either to destroy what we have built, or to continue evolving and progressing and creating something equitable for everyone. On January 6th, 2021, some people tried to destroy it, and they failed. They keep trying, it is incessant and gross. But after every attack, every bruising, every trauma, we emerge again and again. Not with triumph, but with persistence. It is a slog, and I know you are tired, I am so fucking tired. We just want the rescue from without, but in this current system, where minority platforms are winning significant battles, we have to remember we are the majority, we have to be the rescue. And we have to believe that we have it within us to effect the changes we want to see. It is easy to forget, but We are THE people who can, in order to form a more perfect union, “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." For everyone.
Sorry about the cussin, Dad.
Here is a Sandy Hook parent’s response to what happened in Uvalde yesterday.