This is not going to be a helpful post, a healthy post, a post of solutions and fixes, a post that makes sense of anything, that catalyzes what we’re all going through, that attempts to be optimistic or do anything at all to understand the pervasive miasma of trauma we are all standing in and breathing. It is a post of sadness and rage, words that I’m not even sure will make much sense, but right now I don’t have anywhere to put them so I’m putting them here.
At the time of this writing, 19 elementary school children are dead in Uvalde, Texas, alongside two teachers at that school. They were shot by an 18-year-old gunman who by all reports went out on his birthday in order to purchase the weapons he used to commit the mass murder of innocents.
If this happened in a vacuum, if this were a single instance, it would have been a colossal failure, a failure that he was able to have those weapons, a failure of a society that produces those weapons, a failure of a system that was unable to protect those children. If this were a singular horror, it would still necessitate scrutiny and action to follow in the wake of sadness and rage. But it isn’t a singular action. It was not one-and-done. There will likely be another mass shooting today or tomorrow. There have already been hundreds this year. There have already been several this week, from the supermarket shooting against Black Americans in Buffalo to the shooting at a Taiwanese-American church in California. And now this. This, another cup of blood poured into an ocean of it. Blood with the hellish stink of gunpowder burned into it. Shell casings gleaming at the bottom of this sea of pain.
And I don’t know what to say, and I don’t know what to do. The greatest frustration with this and so many of our problems isn’t that we are up against an insurmountable problem. We aren’t facing an issue without solution. We have the answers. We have answers that we collectively agree upon. We know there are some very simple, common sense regulations we can levy against both the gun industry and against the buyers of guns. We know what guns are the problem. We know that there are things we can look out for, like how so many of the shooters are also domestic abusers. It is easy and obvious to say, if you have to learn to drive a car, you should learn to use a gun. If you need a license to operate a vehicle, to sell houses, to run a business, to run electricity through a building — then it stands to reason you should have a license to wield a concealable device that can kill dozens of people in the blink of an eye. We can all probably even agree that concealable is a fucked-up metric for guns, and we would wisely ask, why is that even allowed? The (often mythical) “good guys with guns” shouldn’t want to hide that they have them, so the only people who want to conceal a weapon would be someone who intends to do harm. It follows easy logic that if you have to be 21-years-old to drink an alcoholic beverage –you should at least be that old to use a gun. Most of us can understand and agree that a gun is a tool whose sole purpose is to commit violence. That’s what it does. That’s all it’s for. Even if you view it as necessary for defense, that defense means using it to put holes in other people. It’s not a hammer. It doesn’t cook food, despite what that odious shitstain Ted Cruz would tell you in some pro-gun propaganda bullshit video. It’s there to shoot animals or people. It’s there to inject a little metal missile into meat at around 1100+ feet per second. To turn it to pulp. To butcher it. To make it bleed out and end it, same as it was yesterday, when guns were chosen for the explicit purpose of killing kids — killing them so brutally, so profoundly, that the only way to know who they were was by fetching DNA from their parents in the hopes of making a match.
We all understand. And most of us probably even agree on it. Same as we know how to slow or even halt climate change. Same as we know what helps stave the spread of COVID-19. We know how to save lives, how to accept our kids for who they are, how to share love to stop hate. We know the answers. We even want the solutions. But here we are. Year after year. The same problems. The same problems, growing worse. Cracks in the foundation spreading, poised to collapse. And nothing is done. And nothing is done. And nothing is done. Children dragged onto an altar, killed in service to monstrous capitalist Christofascist interests who will lie with their shit-slick tongues and tell you they are pro-life, pro-life, pro-life, that they care about kids in schools, that masks are abuse and we cannot have them, that the cure is worse than the disease, that we don’t want kids to learn anything harmful, oh no, not ever, but wait, what’s that, they don’t care if their policies lead to kids getting shot again and again, to kids considering suicide because they are denied joy and love because of who they love or how they identify or what the color of their skin looks like, and when kids die, when women die, when anybody dies, they say oh, thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers, maybe if we armed more people, maybe if we paid more blood and money to get more bullets, maybe if we gave teachers guns, maybe we give kids guns, maybe we give fetuses guns, more guns, more bullets, more blood, as long as we are getting paid, as long as we are getting re-elected, as long as we are biting into the meat of power with our teeth and holding on so tight you’ll never, ever shake us.
Republicans want obeisance to some mad, deranged version of the Constitution, as long as that version keeps them fat and happy and in control. They’ve lost the thread, lost their humanity. They’ve lost democracy, the very thing their precious Constitution hoped to entrench. And the other party, the Democrats, are generally on the side of justice, but can barely be seen to do so because they mumble and shrug and shuffle their feet instead of getting loud, getting mad, throwing (metaphorical) punches in the media and on the chamber floor. They’ve so bought into this collegial lie, this notion that the GOP won’t cut off their fingers just for trying to shake hands, that it’s killing us. The GOP are greedy aggressors; the Democrats are mealy-mouthed glad-handers. On one side: the monsters. On the other side: the cowards. Here we are, banning books, when we need to be banning guns. But who’s fighting for us? Who’s not only speaking out, but genuinely fighting? Who will help us?
I don’t know what to do or what to say and it feels all the more angering. I only know that we are all on this bus, driving fast down the highway with a driver who is increasingly cruel and unstable. All we have to do is unseat the driver. And I don’t know how we do that, but there’s more of us than there are of them. There are a lot of passengers, but only one driver. And we better figure it out real goddamn soon, because our tires are wet with blood and it won’t be long before they drive us off a fucking cliff. It’s already too late for those 19 kids in Uvalde.
But maybe we can save the next 19 if we’re willing to get up out of our seats.