I started this in the small downtown of Edmund, Oklahoma. It was bristling with activity. Sitting in a cozy coffee shop, Café Evoke, I watched as people milled about, popping in and out of small locally owned stores; checking out the colorful diner across the street that looked like it was built from a retro gas station. Clean, bright blue, crisp white and popular. The Sunnyside was its name. Very appropriate for the day filled with brilliant blue skies and a soft breeze rushing down Broadway, a breeze pushing the American flags around.
I was as ready, I guess, as I could be to start my article for the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Conference Finals are pretty much set and a jump on it before the final team gets decided might be a good idea. But the flags wouldn’t let me push aside the malaise having crept into my soul.
All of them were melancholy, waving at half-staff.
I couldn’t write about hockey.
There’s a nearly unbearable cast set upon a lot of us. I know it’s just not me and for that I could take what little comfort. But the comfort wasn’t coming no matter how nice a day it was or how good the coffee tried its best to feel going down.
The article was not coming and probably won’t. Frankly, it’s not important.
21 people were shot at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas this week. 21 – nineteen children and two teachers. Another mentally displaced teenager with an AR-15 decided to end the lives of children whose lives had barely begun and take out a pair of people who had dedicated their lives to making sure these children had a chance to grow. I know teachers, have friends who are teachers. This is hard to put into words without it looking as if I am discounting the lives of those children, I am not. I have a grandchild about to enter the school system. I talked to my daughter about how she feels about it. We were both nearly in tears. But then you think about it in terms of teachers, underpaid and overwhelmed. To have this happen is crushing.
For the handful of you who haven’t read the sequence of events, I’ll do what I can to put it together as concisely as I can and hopefully do it some justice for there will be no other justice than what a lot of us are writing about.
Everything that could break down broke down.
He shot his grandmother in the face and stole her truck. She called the police, who seemed to have responded by not responding. He crashed the truck into a ditch. Bystanders went to help him, as normal people would, but fled when he came out wearing tactical gear (which turned out to be false) and carrying his AR-15 he had just purchased on May 17 right after his 18th birthday – then went in the next day to buy 375 rounds of ammo and another semiautomatic rifle. He allegedly exchanged gunfire with a school police officer – an account that has changed 4 times and now since debunked – and slipped into Robb Elementary School via a side door. This same school police officer was allegedly off campus, came back and drove right by the killer who was crouched behind a vehicle… then mistook a teacher as the intruder. The killer took somewhere from 5 to 12 minutes to get inside the school after crashing the truck.
He found a door propped open and went inside the school. Now, according to political hacks/geniuses like Rafael “Ted” Cruz, doors are now the problem. One door is all we need, according to an idiot jackass like Ted. He’s apparently never heard of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. One door access? Fuck his stupidity.
The killer went to a classroom, room 109, where the teacher had shut the lights off and locked the door. He shot into the room, striking the teacher and a student. Then then moved down to down to 2 classrooms, adjoining rooms 111 and 112. Went in, locked doors behind him, and started shooting, killing the teachers first. Three cops from the Uvalde Police Department went inside the school and were confronted by the killer who allegedly came out of the classrooms. Two were injured and they retreated. Shots were heard five separate times from 11:33 AM to 11:45 AM. More officers came, no officers went inside. By 12:15 there were nearly 20 officers on the scene. At the same time, a student in room 112 called again, then another student called from Room 111. At 12:21 three more shots were heard. Parents were outside begging them, these officers hired to serve and protect, to go in and stop the killer. They stood back. Parents were arrested for trying to save children while the police stood by and did nothing but ‘plan’ what to do. One convinced the local police to uncuff her and she ran into the school to get her two children – and she had driven 40 MINUTES to get there while all this was going on and the police were doing nothing.
The attack went on so long the killer had time to taunt his victims before shooting them. Nearly 90 minutes after the psychotic teenager took an AR-15 into an elementary school the police went in. 90 minutes. They unlocked the door via a janitor’s key – as if unlocking it the ‘proper’ way was going to provoke the killer less than bashing the door open. He came out of the closet, they traded gunfire and they killed him.
Everything that could break down broke down.
The police first lied about what had been done to save the kids. Then they recanted but turned the story into “we need more/better equipment.”
Politicians, mostly GOP of course as they genuflect toward the NRA and the abuse of the Second Amendment, blamed doors as mentioned, political grandstanding (while politically grandstanding), people bitched about “Well Biden is sending $40 billion to Ukraine and won’t help our kids (YOU CAN DO BOTH BTW)” and mental health. Beto O’Rourke, the Democrat running against Greg Abbott to be the next Governor of Texas, publicly chewed out Abbott. I’m not calling O’Rourke brave, but he got taken away far faster than the gunman.
I am not going argue against mental health being an issue, it is. However, using it as a crutch so we can keep our guns is insanely stupid. Gun control laws can be enacted and y’all can still have your guns. The Assault Weapons Ban was effective. While it grandfathered in those who already had the weapons, access was severely limited after it and stats show it was effective… then congress under George Bush II let it lapse. A new bill has been introduced in the House by Representative Abigail Spanberger. It will pass the House… and get killed in the Senate if not now, then repealed when the GOP retakes the majority because the GOP cares more about their guns than it does your children.
Which leads us to the ideal weapon of choice for all mass shooters – the AR-15. An AR-15 isn’t a gun Joe or Jane Citizen should own. There’s no reason for it. Save your shit about the Second Amendment – an amendment written over 230 years ago when we had no standing army and one where the word “own” is not used – it’s written as “keep” which does not equate own. Oh, and bullets weren’t invented for nearly another 50 years. Musket balls, FYI if it needs to be said at all, are not bullets.
An AR-15 is so devasting a weapon it deterred these cops from doing their job. Meanwhile, the killer shot those kids so much some were unrecognizable. They had to use the parents’ DNA to identify some of the bodies.
But a citizen needs an AR-15 according to at least one politician – to shoot feral pigs.
Everything that could break down broke down.
Columbine was a quarter century ago and we have learned nothing. Someone I know was a first responder at Columbine. Every time this happens all we can do is text one another, get together, console each other, hug, then that’s it. It keeps happening over and over and over and over again. As citizens – be it me, you, Steve Kerr, or Gabe Kapler – we rail about the injustice, the absolute lack of caring. We look to congress, and they sit there and do nothing – and every time EVERY TIME EVERY EVERY TIME it’s one party that blocks anything from happening. When Sandy Hook tragedy happened a decade ago, the apparently naïve of us all said “now, this is the time, this is it – something good will come out of this” to no avail. President Obama was blocked by Mitch McConnell.
Spare me the “but the Democrats have control of the House and the Senate” bullshit. They don’t, not with the filibuster existing in the form it is now. You’d need a super majority to pass anything, a 60-40 or better vote. That won’t happen anymore than revising the filibuster will because of one party – the GOP.
What this all boils down to, for me, is one part of this complete tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. During this shit storm perpetuated by the police and their insane lack of action, while children in whispered tones were begging to be saved (one girl called THREE times), a girl smeared herself with blood and pretended to be dead. It’s now gotten that far – children so used to this senseless act of violence repeatedly happening a girl thinks to smear herself with blood to save her life… or that her parents somehow had the foresight to teach her to do so.
It’s been said, and for the most part I believe it to be true, writing is cathartic. Writing gives you the opportunity to exorcise your demons, let it all out, diffuse the anger with every keystroke. This time, it’s not working. Everything that could break down broke down, including me.