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By now we’ve all read about — and perhaps cried over — the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where an unhinged 18-year-old man with two military-style rifles, obtained legally, walked into an elementary school and killed 19 children and two adults.
The children were fourth graders.
If you’re a parent, you’re likely worried for your children’s safety. Parent or not, you’re likely as saddened, angered and frustrated as we are, wondering how this kind of evil could happen again and again and again. Why have we not rallied the resources of the greatest country in history to stop it?
Instead, we all mourn, light candles, sing hymns and wait for it to happen again.
Today, we can’t. We can’t write one more agonized editorial expressing our sorrow and anger and begging our representatives to do something, anything. In the past we’ve recommended study and commonsense gun restrictions, even the simplest, least-intrusive restrictions like universal background checks or red-flag laws that allow courts to temporarily seize firearms from anyone believed to be a danger to themselves or others.
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But begging has not moved the needle. Nothing ever moves the needle. No one in power ever does a damn thing to solve the problem of too much access to too many guns that kill too many children.
So they continue to be murdered.
It is, of course, a complex problem. Every shooting is, in a sense, different. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
But there seems to be a one-size-fits-all outcome: Agony.
In the meantime, one solution — at least a partial solution — is staring us all in the face. Gun violence will never be addressed until there are solid Democratic Party majorities in the bodies that can make a difference: our state legislature and the U.S. House and Senate. Only when the party that takes this problem seriously has enough power to actually do something will anything change. We will never stop or even diminish mass shootings until the Republican Party’s power to prevent action is eliminated.
Even then, change is not guaranteed. It only becomes possible.
Is this too harsh, too one-sided?
Consider Tuesday night’s floor speech by Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat, during which he said: “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.”
It’s never Republican officials pleading with Democrats to work with them to fix the problem. Instead, those officials rush to defend law-abiding gun owners and the Second Amendment — but not the “well-regulated” part; they insist that Democrats want to “confiscate our guns” — an impossibility; they play “whataboutism” with other issues and claim that the time is not right to address the problem.
And they keep loosening restrictions so that access to firearms, without training or registration, proliferates. And mass shootings continue.
It would be easy to give in to cynicism and conclude that Republicans don’t care — that they, as some accuse, love their guns more than they love our children.
We can’t go that far. It’s not that they don’t care.
It’s that they are beholden to the NRA, which fights resourcefully and aggressively against even the most minimal restriction or safety measure. Republican candidates who fail to bend the knee to the NRA and agree with every iota of its program find themselves quickly primaried out of office.
Some Republicans, like former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, are willing to speak up. On Tuesday, Hurd tweeted: “If the GOP is going to actually be the pro-life, pro-second amendment, pro-law enforcement party, then it is on us to put forth the best ideas on preventing mass murders. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. What we really need is solutions.”
But Hurd isn’t running for office and doesn’t need the NRA’s endorsement.
On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. Ted Cruz and former President Trump are scheduled to speak at an NRA convention in Houston, about four hours from Uvalde. There will be no guns in the room — they’re not permitted.
In the face of criticism of past mass shootings, the NRA has always responded with defiance, as if insisting that no, those killings, using the weapons we promote, have nothing to do with us.
Maybe we’re wrong and this convention will be different. Even if so, it’s hard to imagine that the difference will be anything more than cosmetic; a concession to public outrage.
This is not acceptable. Something has to change. Let’s start by getting rid of those who stand in the way of change.