How are you doing? You doing OK? Because I’m not.
I can’t stop thinking about Uvalde, a place I didn’t even know existed until May 24, a day that marked something shocking — but not at all surprising — in this country.
According to CNN, “The elementary school slaughter in Uvalde marked at least the 30th shooting at a K-12 school in just the first five months of this year.”
That figure, of course, doesn’t count the many, many other shootings that happened at places other than schools.
We have more guns in the United States than anywhere else in the world. And Michigan takes the number one spot in States Armed to the Teeth.
And this awful massacre of 19 little kids is being blamed on all of the usual things: violent video games, the lack of prayer in school, critical race theory, and the catch-all “existence of evil.”
And then there was the early rumor spread online that the shooter was transgender.
This was spread further on Twitter by a member of congress with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) tweeting that the shooter was a “transexual leftist illegal alien.” Gosar also tweeted the shooter’s name (which I will not repeat here), which was the only part of the story Gosar got right.
The rumor started on a 4Chan message board, according to Rolling Stone. There was absolutely no evidence that it was true. There was evidence, however, that the photos were of a trans woman who does not live in Texas and, as she pointed out while defending herself online, is not dead.
Other garbage mongers claimed that the shooter was an “illegal.” It really exposes the sick and twisted thinking of people who worship guns (and if you value guns and the unlimited ability to buy machines expressly made to quickly murder groups of people, including defenseless school children, over the lives of said children, you’ve elevated guns to a position of idolatry).
The idea that a guy who has murdered a roomful of school children and their teachers is not terrible ENOUGH. In their desperate attempt to make the focus of this and every other awful mass shooting in this country the easy availability of guns, they instead pivot to their preferred punching bags, and right now, transgender people existing is scarier to these people than the fact that an 18 year old can buy a gun and murder people in a grocery store or an elementary school on any given day in the U.S.
The fact of the matter is, it’s the guns. It’s. The. Guns. No other country has this problem. We’re it. We’re No. 1. U.S.A. (weakly pumping fist) U.S.A.
As a country we’ve done nothing at all to prevent what happened in Uvalde. Not even after the murder of 6 and 7 year olds at Sandy Hook in 2012. I can only imagine the pain of those parents who lost kids a decade ago watching it happening again.
It’s all made worse when I read about the police response in Uvalde — how police officers stood around in the hallway and outside of the building waiting for tactical teams while kids were being murdered. They didn’t breach the classroom for OVER AN HOUR. Imagine being one of those kids who survived. Being trapped in there. Watching your friends die. Thinking you’ll be next. The smell of blood. Calling 911 over and over (which the kids inside did) and nobody coming to rescue you.
It’s like Columbine back in 1999 all over again. The shooters inside, running around and killing people, while police hung around outside. Everything was supposed to change after that. The protocol changed from “wait and see” to “GO IN THERE RIGHT AWAY.” That was literally the policy in Uvalde. But they didn’t do it.
Original reporting indicated that a teacher left a door ajar (later, it was revealed that the teacher actually closed the door while calling 911, assuming it would lock behind her). In any other country, such a small thing would not lead to mass murder in an elementary school. It only happens here.
I don’t want schools to become armed fortresses. I am not willing to accept that mass death, coming soon to a school near you, is the price we have to pay for the “freedom” of some people to collect weapons of war.
My heart hurts so much for all of the families who have lost someone to gun violence.
We could change this. It feels hopeless, but it isn’t. We must elect people who care about preventing gun violence. The Republican party has come down very squarely on the side of guns. We must vote them out, and we must elect people who are willing to do hard things. And we must be willing to do hard things ourselves.
D’Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.