Don’t Kid Yourself. It Is About the Guns.

I can’t help but wonder if, in the almost two weeks that have passed between the massacre at Robb Elementary School and the day this column appears in print, people have already filed that tragedy away—along with so many others–in the outer recesses of their minds.

I debated whether I should even bother to write about the twenty-one innocent people slaughtered in Uvalde, Texas in late May, what with it being “old news” and all. Could I say anything that hadn’t already been said? Could I say anything that would make a difference?

Then I thought about the many pre-Covid years I spent at Jere Whitson Elementary School, volunteering with the fourth graders there. Like the students at Robb, the great majority of Jere Whitson students are Hispanic. In my mind, their faces melded with the faces of the nineteen children in Uvalde, Texas, murdered on the very morning they’d celebrated the end of the school year. As I gazed at the news photos of children who’d just received certificates for good citizenship or perfect attendance or academic proficiency or most laps run on field day and then been cut down by a troubled teenager with a military- grade rifle, I couldn’t make it make sense. I still can’t. I hope I never will.

Jere Whitson fourth graders have an end-of-the-year celebration, too. They sing. They sign a pledge to graduate from high school. They walk across a stage to receive a diploma and a hug from their teachers and then they stand around in the gym, eating cake and drinking copious amounts of Hawaiian Punch. I suspect that’s pretty much how it went in Uvalde, Texas on the morning of May 24.

And I can’t help but think about my own grandkids, five of whom are the same age as the students at Robb Elementary School. When their parents walk them to the bus stop every morning, do they consider the possibility that those precious children might be shot dead at school? How can any of us live with such thoughts? And what can any of us do about it?

Reducing the number of guns and restricting who can own them is not the answer, according to what some of my social media contacts had to say following the bloodshed in Uvalde. If their remarks weren’t so appalling, their parroting of Worship-the-Second-Amendment talking points would be almost funny. Here are some quotes:

  • “Don’t blame this shooting on guns. There’s always going to be bad people who do bad things.”
  • “You’re dancing on children’s graves for political purposes. Republicans love children, too. We should wait till we have all the details before we seek solutions.”
  • “Let’s up the love, not take away guns.”
  • “Pointing at guns isn’t going to fix anything. We’re ignoring mental health issues and illegal aliens and illicit drugs and single parents and the mentality of ‘everyone deserves a trophy.’ We need to start living by Biblical principles again.”
  • “Sure, dead school kids is sad. But what about abortion?”

It’s enough to make me scream. It’s enough to make me wring my hands and gnash my teeth. It’s enough to make me start crying and never stop. We can make inroads toward keeping weapons from those who shouldn’t have them if we have the will and the fortitude to do it, without taking away anyone’s hunting rifle. We can. This is an election year. If you’re tired of the carnage, you have the power to change things. If you’re not registered to vote, do it now. And then vote for candidates committed to limiting easy access to firearms.

Because this unfathomable and never-ending killing IS about guns. If you believe otherwise, you’re only kidding yourself.

(June 4, 2022)