Clichés won’t get the job done when it comes to America’s gun violence epidemic

Clichés won’t get the job done when it comes to America’s gun violence epidemic

UVALDE, TX – MAY 24: Members of the community gather at the City of Uvalde Town Square for a prayer vigil in the wake of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. According to reports, 19 students and 2 adults were killed before the gunman was fatally shot by law enforcement. (Photo by Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images)

“Unspeakable.” This appears to a top platitude of choice for modern, gun-loving American politicians these days as they respond to each new horrific tragedy that the easy and widespread availability of mass killing machines visits on our society.

That and “praying” for the families of the victims.

This is from North Carolina Republican Congressman Dan Bishop – a politician who’s spent his career in office opposing commonsense gun regulations – responding to yesterday’s mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas:

Unspeakable evil showed its face in Uvalde, TX today. Please join Jo and me in praying for the families who are grieving the tragic loss of a child or a loved one.”

And then there was gun-loving Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who called it “another unspeakable crime.”

Meanwhile, here’s Congressman Ted Budd – a man who made a living selling killing machines before becoming a politician:

Please join me in praying for the children and families involved in this horrific shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Words cannot express our grief over such an unspeakable act of evil.”

And here’s Congresswoman Virginia Foxx – another consistent opponent of anti-gun violence laws:

Truly heartbreaking news out of Texas. Pray for the Uvalde community.”

The truth, however, is that there is nothing “unspeakable” – that is, as Merriam-Webster puts it, “incapable of being expressed in words” – about what happened yesterday. We know what happened, and tragically, that horrific truth is quite amenable to being spelled out in the English language.

Simply put: A deeply disturbed person who should never have come close to possessing a firearm of any kind obtained at least two AR-15 style rifles along with hundreds of rounds of lethal ammunition and then used this small arsenal to systematically execute at least 21 innocent human beings in an elementary school classroom.

There it is – no confusion or mystery about what happened.

And the prayers? Please spare us.

We hear this “prayer” nonsense from these same politicians each time the nation is forced to endure yet another mass, assault weapon murder and, as is made plain by the anguished faces of the parents who lost their fourth graders yesterday, it does absolutely no good whatsoever.

These people don’t want your prayers. They want their babies back.

They want to exist in a world in which actual, real-world human life means more than a noisy minority’s deeply twisted obsession with possessing killing machines.

All this talk of “unspeakable tragedies” and “prayers for the victims” from do-nothing politicians on the payroll of the gun lobby is nothing short of an abomination.

There is, as we are all painfully aware, no way to put the genie completely back in the bottle when it comes to gun violence in a nation long awash in mass killing machines.

As veteran journalist Eric Frederick of the NC Local News Workshop at Elon University accurately observed this morning in the group’s newsletter, the United States is plagued by “the metastasis of a peculiar obsession with violence as resolution, which has tainted this great experiment since it began. Responsible gun laws might mitigate it. They, alone, won’t cure it.”

That said, the only remotely decent response to yesterday’s disaster from those whom we have elected to govern our society remains the one we heard from President Biden and other responsible elected leaders who are proclaiming “enough!” and “stop the madness!”

As veteran North Carolina Congressman David Price observed:

In recent days we have witnessed two consecutive acts of weaponized hate – first in Buffalo & now Uvalde, TX where at least 18 children & a teacher were murdered today in their school. Congressional inaction is reprehensible and amoral. We must pass common sense gun reforms NOW.

Of course, nothing of the kind will occur anytime soon. Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate and House will advance legislation to expand background check requirements for gun purchases and Republicans will block their efforts.

Meanwhile, even as the smoke has barely cleared in Texas and parents across the nation toss sleeplessly in their beds each night for fear that their kids will be the next victims of a homicidal man-child armed with military-grade weaponry, North Carolina Republican legislative leaders are quickly getting down to what’s really ailing our schools – namely, the dire threat that someone might say the word “gay” in a classroom or, God forbid, accurately describe the fact that many children are parented by loving same-sex couples.

It’s enough to cause a person to wonder if there’s any hope left for this tired old republic.

But that can’t be our final response. Again, here’s Eric Frederick:

I hate platitudes. I hate saying something that’s been said a million times. And every single thing I might say right now feels like a cliché, because we’re living in one. A terrifying, senseless, banal nightmare of a cliché.

So I don’t have much else to say. Except that we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Those of us who love our children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews should do our best to heed Frederick’s observation and, when we find ourselves able, get back to work trying to save their future.