This morning I sent my kids off to school just minutes after I saw the face of 10-year-old Xavier Lopez on my Facebook news feed as one of the first victims identified in the latest school shooting. It was early in the morning and I knew I wasn’t emotionally ready to read about Xavier, so I scrolled by as quickly as I could. Xavier was in fourth grade at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and he was shot and killed along with 18 of his classmates and two teachers when 18-year-old Salvador Ramos walked into his classroom, barricaded himself there, and opened fire. This marks the deadliest school shooting in the state’s history and the deadliest shooting at a U.S. grade-school since the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
My son is in fourth grade just like Xavier and he’ll be 10 on Sunday. His little sister is in kindergarten. As soon as my husband ushered them out the door to drop them off at school this morning, I had to fight the urge to run outside and tell him to bring them back. The worst thoughts raced through my mind because if the past few weeks — years, really — prove anything, it’s that anything can happen. We are not safe. Our innocent, beautiful children are not safe. Every time I see the sweet little faces of the children that were murdered in Uvalde yesterday, I can’t help but see the faces of my own children.
We try so desperately to protect our kids. We make sure they take vitamins and wear bicycle helmets. We feed them all the healthiest food and make sure they have their yearly well visits with the doctor. We set rules and curfews. We teach them about stranger danger and fire safety. We squeeze them and hug them and tell them how much we love them every single day. But still, it’s not enough. We are not enough. As parents, we need help, but our cries…our pleas for help, continue to go unanswered.
This morning, I learned that as of 2020, gun-related injuries are now the leading cause of death among children in the United States. How can this be?! Many — myself included — believe it’s because politicians and corporations care more about dollars and cents than they do about innocent American lives. The trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down either. According to FBI data, active shooter incidents increased by more than 50 percent between 2020 and 2021.
In just the past six months, 27 school shootings have occurred in the U.S. and there have been more than 200 mass shootings reported in the U.S. in 2022 alone. Just 10 days before the Uvalde shooting, another 18-year-old man killed 10 people in a Buffalo, New York supermarket in a race-motivated attack against Black people. And yet, the U.S. government refuses to act on gun reform.
Today, as I approached my son’s school I was met with flashing police lights. Our governor ordered police protection to be stationed at all public schools until further notice. It was a terrifying sight. I knew about the order, and it was still startling. I can’t imagine how parents who hadn’t heard felt. I appreciate the added security during such a sensitive time, but what parent wants to see this? Why have we allowed it to come to this?
I pulled into the car line, parked my car, and immediately contacted my senators and house representative to urge them to work harder for gun law reform. I live in a decidedly blue state though, and my senators and congressman already support gun control laws. Like millions of other parents though, I’m at a loss for what else to do. How else to act, how else to demand that someone prioritize the safety of our children, our elderly, and all people of color.
This is not and should not be a partisan issue. The gun lobby shouldn’t have control over our safety and campaign dollars should not dictate our laws. This is about humanity. This is about people. This is about Americans living in fear each and every day. This is not freedom.
We’ve all heard the cries, of “enough!” we’ve all seen the social media posts about thoughts and prayers. At this point though, none of us should want to see or hear those words anywhere. They are empty. They mean nothing. We need to act. We need to act for the future of this country and that of our children. It’s time to put politics aside and do what is right for all Americans.
If you are staunchly conservative or even right-leaning and you support the second amendment, I urge you to truly look deep down inside and ask yourself whether this is worth it. Whether your right to bear arms is worth the lost lives. The death toll keeps piling up, and it’s not a matter of if, but when, it will touch your community, your home, your family. Are background checks that bad? Are extreme risk/red flag laws really a problem? Should domestic abusers really be allowed to purchase guns? People with proven mental health issues? How is legislation to get ghost guns off the streets problematic for law-abiding Americans?
As much as some of us may wish that we could just make all the guns disappear, no one is really asking for that. We don’t really want to take away your rights, we just want common-sense gun laws. And for anyone who says, “well, bad guys will find the guns,” they might, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make it harder for them to do so.
It’s worth noting that in both the Uvalde shooting and the Buffalo shooting, the suspects purchased their guns legally, shortly after they turned eighteen. Despite what the law says, they’re still children and it makes no sense that either of them was trusted with such a huge responsibility as gun ownership. Nevermind the fact that each of them had demonstrated mental health struggles and made known their desires to hurt people prior to their attacks.
So much could have been done to prevent these tragedies. So much can still be done to prevent more unnecessary, violent, and heinous deaths in America. Don’t let it go mamás. Don’t move on. Feel your anger and your grief and fight. Our children deserve to learn without fear of dying. They deserve to show up to school every day and know they are safe and that they will make it back home and into our loving arms.
Here are some ways to help:
• Donate through the GoFundMe hub (Texas Elementary School Shooting Relief)
• Text ACT to 644-33 to #endgunviolence
• Donate blood at the emergency blood drive hosted by South Texas Blood & Tissue at the Herby Ham Activity Center
• If you’re a licensed attorney in Texas, volunteer to assist families with legal services through the San Antonio Legal Services Association, contact [email protected]
• Donate toward medical expenses to the city of Uvalde: Robb School Memorial Fund, PO Box 799, Uvalde, Texas 78802, or email [email protected]
• Contact your House Rep/Senators by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or send a postcard through Congress Cards
• Get involved with Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety, Students Demand Action