How Many Children Must Die Before We Have Gun Control?

I originally had intended to write this week’s Editor’s Letter about the controversial trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard and how it infuriates me that the case has become a sickening spectacle of memes, audio recordings and video clips that trend on TikTok, and is the butt of mean-spirited jokes largely aimed at Heard. It sickens me that people have lost sight of what is at the heart of this case: potential domestic violence — a dangerous issue that should not be made light of under any circumstances.

Violence, of course, is evil in any form, and when the horrific news of the massacre in a Texas elementary school erupted this week, I felt compelled to devote this space to the memory of the 19 children and two teachers who were gunned down in their classroom in Uvalde, Texas, by an 18-year-old with an assault rifle.

It marks the deadliest — and the 27th — school shooting in the U.S. this year.

I have vivid memories from a decade ago of how wrecked I was as a parent of then 12- and 16-year-old daughters when 20 first-graders, ages 6 and 7, along with six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012.

In his remarks about the Texas shootings, President Joe Biden reminded that since Sandy Hook, there have been “over 900 incidents of gunfire reported on school grounds,” including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

In October 2018, eight months after the Parkland mass shootings that took the lives of 17 students and staff, I interviewed X (formerly Emma) González, a high school senior at the time who was one of the survivors. Just three days after the Feb. 14 massacre, a heartbroken González channeled her terror and anger into activism — delivering a speech at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that went viral when she called “B.S.” on then-President Trump, other politicians and the NRA for not tightening gun laws that could prevent “the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred.”

Cut to now. Three days after the Texas school murders, the NRA, in celebration of its 151st anniversary, held its “biggest celebration” of the year, as planned, in Houston over Memorial Day weekend, featuring “over 14 acres of the latest guns and gear from the most popular companies in the industry.” The event included speeches from Trump, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Sen. Ted Cruz. It doesn’t get much more sickening than that.

Meanwhile, people all over the country, including many in Hollywood, took to Twitter to express their shock, sorrow and outrage over the elementary school massacre. This from Barbra Streisand: “Governor Abbott talks about everything including mental health but never mentions the gun laws. Why was this 18-year-old kid [the lone shooter] allowed to buy an A.R. 15 or anything else with no background checks?” Tweeted Dan Levy, pithily: “Guns are banned during Trump’s upcoming speech at the NRA conference.”

Responding to the news of the most recent mass shooting, Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey released a statement on social media extending his prayers to those families touched by the tragedy and urging people to act. “The true call to action now is for Americans to take a longer and deeper look in the mirror, and ask ourselves, What is it that we truly value? How do we repair the problem? … We can’t exhale once again, make excuses and accept these tragic realities as the status quo.”

For nothing to change in gun control legislation after all this trauma would be criminal.

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