The Maui News

Commitment to end gun violence

- Guest editorial excerpt by the San Antonio Express-News. Guest editorial

One year ago, Uvalde, famous for its honey and nearby Garner State Park, became synonymous with horror.

One year ago, the sun rising over the town and Robb Elementary School beamed with the brightness of summer’s eve. For children, the end of the school year offered the coming thrills of new adventures, long days and the hopes of endless promise. But long before sunset, a darkness fell upon Uvalde, blanketing it in terror, tears and heartbreak. The town is now best known for the second-deadliest school shooting in American history and an inept police response that made the atrocity worse.

May 24, 2022 is the before-and-after date for Uvalde’s timeline, 21 grieving families and the many injured survivors who carry with them physical and emotional scars. The date is a boundary in the record of time.

One year ago, time froze for the families of the 19 children and two teachers who were murdered in the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.

Time stopped for those families, but the rest of the world moves on. The same sun that rose above Uvalde last year will do so on this anniversar­y, and into the future as children grow into adulthood and have children of their own. But for the Uvalde families, as they have come to be collective­ly known, it will always be May 24, 2022. Each anniversar­y a signpost to the anniversar­y ahead in a never-ending pilgrimage of grief.

On this first anniversar­y, let’s pledge to not distance ourselves so far from the Uvalde mass shooting that we lose sight of policy inaction. A teenager armed with a weapon of war stormed into an elementary school and slaughtere­d 21 people — 19 children — and Texas lawmakers responded by passing zero gun safety reforms. Has anything fundamenta­lly changed to prevent this from happening again? The very question reveals the answer.

When the Austin American-Statesman published video of the Robb Elementary shooting in July, it came with a disclaimer, “The sound of children screaming has been removed.”

But the families will always hear those unheard screams of their children, which will haunt them just as it should haunt those law enforcemen­t officers who failed to intervene over the course of 77 minutes.

Not removed from that audio is the sound of the weapon that is the reason the children screamed. One year later, that weapon remains easy to purchase in Texas.

In a 1946 speech at a Dominican monastery, Nobel laureate Albert Camus said, “Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children. And if you don’t help us, who else in the world can help us do this?”

We can’t prevent this from being a world in which children are shot to death. But we can reduce the number of children shot to death by weapons of war. We can reduce the number of children screaming in a classroom because of such weapons. It is in our power to do this, and if we do not try, who else in the world will?

If we don’t try, more communitie­s will commemorat­e the kind of anniversar­y Uvalde marks. Don’t let the passage of time create so much distance from Uvalde that we can’t see this simple and humane truth.

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