Jayden D'Onofrio - Teen Aspect - May 28th, 2022
“Thoughts and prayers.” This empty statement has rung through the ears of the families of dead elementary school children for days following the Uvalde shooting. Meanwhile, fathers and mothers, who just hours before sent their children to school for a sustainable and worthwhile education in a historically discriminatory nation, receive some of the most nauseating news a parent could ever hear: their child had been picked apart, left to die, and concocted into a nearly unrecognizable state by bullets of a military style weapon alongside more than a dozen of their fellow classmates. Brutally withering away in the most horrific manner possible despite residing in the world’s most prosperous nation, children in Uvalde, Texas fell victim to the country’s pervasive failures and insanities in spite of never even cultivating the capability to influence the nation’s politics.
Surprise of such events has not come across me, after all, I live just 15 minutes away from the tragedy that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas just 4 years ago. Instead, I, like many other high school age students, drown in detestation of the despicable passivity the American dream roots itself so heavily into. The very safety of America’s youngest has been overlooked for years. Yet, we have traded our security for a false pursuit of “freedom.”
The sheer fact that Americans, children nonetheless, can lose their lives to military grade style weapons in the hands of other members of society is not only repugnant, but it is indicative of the true national identity the United States finds itself embroiled into. Especially when we consider the fact that such a weapon fell into the hands of an 18 year old, nearly three years too young to drink legally but apparently the perfect age to possess hardware that is comparable to a military rifle. Repulsive, yet rampant inaction has spread savagely amongst the American government, despite ever-evolving shootings targeting Americans as a whole. The constant failures exemplified throughout the United States legislative system have been consistently ignored and even upheld, evident through the re-elections of bastardly politicians such as Governor Greg Abbott, Senator Ted Cruz, and other abhorrent representatives.
How we can simply acknowledge terrible massacres like the one in Texas and then rapidly move on to the next news story without a comprehensive response will never prevent my constant amazement at the lunacies of this nation. Columbine, Sandy Hook, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and now Robb elementary school stand atop some of the country’s most dreadful tragedies and yet, with decades passing, no worthwhile reform has been formulated.
The passage of universal background checks has consistently been shot down despite over 83% of gun owners supporting such legislation (i), the banning of assault style weapons has failed to even be considered in many law-making bodies, and in actuality, various gun control laws have been rolled back by Republicans across the nation. For example, the aforementioned Texas governor, Greg Abbott, has made it his political goal to ensure the implementation of less gun regulations showcased by the signing of his “Constitutional Carry” law, a bill that allowed Texans to wield handguns without a license or training. Now, the governor is facing the deaths of 22 Texans, almost all exclusively children, and has not dared to point out the real problems at hand. Abbott instead illustrates “mental illness” as the driving force behind the uptick in mass shootings, yet, ironically, the governor rolled back $200 million in funding for mental health departments in his state just a month prior to the Uvalde shooting. Furthermore, Governor Abbott’s state ranks dead last out of all 50 American states in access to reliable and efficient mental health care (ii). Perhaps if the true cause of mass shootings was mental illness as the governor claims, illogical decisions like eliminating vital funding to uphold mental health initiatives would not have occurred. While Abbott enjoys the luxuries of his 91,000 square foot governor’s mansion, his constituents are continuously being housed in caskets due to his death-dealing ideals.
The absence of a spine for so many Democrats against the violent morals safeguarded by Republicans is nothing that should be glossed over either. The lack of a persistent fight for gun control has cost thousands of American lives and the disruption of families across the nation, even in the light of such a disturbing history of national violence. Americans continue to ask themselves, “how many more times?” How many more times will American children have to be killed in schools before anything is done? The reality is that until you commit to action, use your voice, and repel the ill-driven morals of so many American politicians, not a single thing will happen. American exceptionalism has put forth many instances of inaction and directly causes irrationality and carelessness in regard to some of the nation's most pressing issues. While politicians, mainly Republicans such as Ted Cruz and even newscasters like Tucker Carlson, debate the use of pronouns, fight against the facts of climate change, and spread their ‘pro-life’ beliefs, American’s are being shot and killed at rates that should be fervently unacceptable to any standard citizen. The insidious nature of Republicans constantly describing themselves as ‘pro-life’ amidst widening American deaths from gun violence is nothing short of disgusting, considering their hard defense against weapon control laws.
With the gun control crisis testing the outer reaches of our democracy, America must adapt to this unique catastrophe, but not by political means, instead through listening to the victims of the nation’s destructive tragedies. Far too often have we, as constituents of our representatives, let our elected officials float free of criticism for their handling of a variety of domestic laws. Parents of bullet-ridden children have made it clear repeatedly: The United States requires a total overhaul of its gun control laws through the integration of universal background checks, elimination of military style weapons, and the introduction of dedicated training classes for firearms. Until such action is carried out, America will continue to bask itself in the exceptionalism that has consistently ignored the mass shootings that grip the hearts of everyday citizens.
Abgafe, V. (n.d.). The vast majority of Americans support universal background checks. why doesn't Congress? The Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Retrieved May 27, 2022, from https://iop.harvard.edu/get-involved/harvard-political-review/vast-majority-americans-support-universal-background-checks
Ranking the states 2022. Mental Health America. (2022). Retrieved May 27, 2022, from https://mhanational.org/issues/2022/ranking-states#four