19 kids and counting…

On Tuesday, a gunman opened fire in Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 elementary school students and 2 adults. This event is the deadliest shooting since the devastation in Sandy Hook that took place 10 years ago, according to abcnews.com. Hearts all over America broke at this tragedy and it has led to an outpour of support for stricter gun laws on social media.

It feels like this country is going backwards. With the “Don’t say gay” bill, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and now this? For years gun control has been an issue in this country: Children are forced to go through drills, lectures and even metal detectors because the government refuses to enact basic security procedures to buy firearms. Why, with so many lives lost, are so many people devoted to easy access (or any access) to AR-15s? 

Comedian George Carlin said it best: “Conservatives will do anything for the unborn, but once you’re born… you’re on your own.” The far right is in favor of forcing women to have these children, but once they are born, extreme conservatives limit their freedom of sexual expression, condemn them if they worship a different diety than them and put them in danger by allowing easy access to firearms.

The fact of the matter is that six school shootings have occurred in Texas during Governor Greg Abbott’s seven years in office. Conveniently enough, he has offered thoughts and prayers for all of them while continuing to defend and uphold the system that aids in these senseless murders. For those who had hoped that this new shooting would inspire an ounce of humanity in Abbott, prepare to be disappointed. 

Rather than acknowledging the utter failure that are the gun control laws in Texas (as well as most of the United States), Abbott instead chose to criticize other cities to justify the blood on his own hands. At a news conference from Uvalde on Wednesday, Abbott said, “I hate to say this, but there are more people shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in schools in Texas. We need to realize that people who think, ‘Well, maybe if we implement tougher gun laws, it’s going to solve it,’ Chicago, L.A. and New York disprove that thesis.” 

In an evil twist of irony, the very state that is actively working to protect the so-called rights of the “unborn” are utterly failing to protect the rights of the already-born, and soon-to-be-dead, children. Here lies everything that is wrong with current views on gun reform in America. So long as selfish and outdated voices like Abbott remain in office, the number of broken-hearted families and innocent victims will only rise. 

At the center of all this is the U.S.’ stigmas surrounding mental health. People struggling with severe mental trauma and illnesses should not be allowed to buy war-grade machine guns. Quite frankly, no American citizen should have access to an assault rifle. For a land that preaches freedom and independence, the fact remains, that this independence cannot come at the expense of the lives of our children. That is simply too high a price, and one that America must no longer be willing to pay. 

What this country needs is a war declared on assault rifles, not illegal immigrants, not abortion, but guns. Gone are the days where Instagram stories and sobbing families on the news are enough to evoke a response; we have become desensitized to the everyday violence that plagues our country. 

We need legislation, both on a state and a national level, and we need it now. If we as a nation are to see an end to this already lengthy list of mass school shootings, stricter gun reform is the first and the only step in the matter.