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Latinx Files: Uvalde is the latest recurrence of our American nightmare

A combination of photos of a woman crying, the exterior of a school, and a man carrying flowers
A woman cries as she leaves the Civic Center in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday after a mass shooting. Joshua Dominguez, right, brings flowers to Robb Elementary School.
(Martina Ibáñez-Baldor / Los Angeles Times; William Luther / The San Antonio Express-News; Jordan Vonderhaar / Getty Images)

I’m tired.

I had a hard time going to bed Tuesday night (I file this newsletter on Wednesday) because my heart was heavy and the reels in my brain kept projecting the horrific news of the mass killing in Uvalde, Texas.

I was kept awake thinking of the children killed, many of whom looked a lot like my own nephews and niece. I couldn’t fall asleep because I couldn’t stop dwelling on the injustice of it all, of these kids dying in the most American way possible: senselessly in a school shooting.

I thought of my own mother and sister, who work in school districts, and how this could happen to them.

I tried to imagine the sound of the weeping and pain escaping the bodies of parents and relatives who had to wait hours before their worst fears were confirmed because the damage done by legally purchased bullets necessitated the use of DNA for identification.

Uvalde hit a little too close to home because, well, Uvalde literally is close to home. The small city is a few hours away from the Rio Grande Valley, where I grew up, and both places are socioeconomically and culturally similar. My proximity is such that I know people who know people in Uvalde.

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So, like I said, I’m tired.

I’ll tell you what I didn’t lose much sleep over: trying to figure out why this happened.

Why did Salvador Ramos slaughter innocent children and their teachers?

Because he could. Because the barrier for getting a weapon made specifically to kill as many people as possible is lower than renting a car in Texas.

I get the impulse of trying to understand why these horrific events keep happening in this country, of trying to figure out what would compel someone to commit such horrific acts.

But the answer is tragically not that complicated or deep.

You don’t need a hateful ideology to kill a lot of people, though as we have seen in Buffalo, N.Y., and El Paso and countless other places, it’s often a factor in mass shootings.

All you need is a gun.

And it just so happens that guns are plentiful in the United States, where there are more guns than people. As a result there are a lot more mass shootings here than anywhere else. It’s not even close.

I don’t need to tell you that we will keep reliving this nightmare over and over and over again until something is done, because you have also been through this. And you already know that absolutely nothing will come of this because our elected officials on both sides of the aisle refuse to do anything about it.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott spent Wednesday afternoon offering his thoughts and prayers in Uvalde, but later this week he’ll be in Houston speaking at the National Rifle Association convention. That is unless he’s shamed out of participating, which I’ll admit is a possibility after he was publicly confronted by Beto O’Rourke. But given his historical display of poca madre, I’m not holding my breath on this one. And on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer confirmed he had no immediate plans of introducing gun control legislation in the wake of this shooting.

Our political leaders lack the will or courage to change how things are. One side believes the answer to ending mass shootings is to give guns to teachers, while the other side is tripling down on the belief that their counterparts will eventually see the light and do the right thing. (As a side note, given how much we require our educators to provide their own school supplies, can you imagine a near dystopian future in which teachers are putting guns and ammo on their Donors Choose wish lists?)

Until something changes, the mass shootings will continue. It’s not rocket science. It’s just absurd.

Early Wednesday afternoon, I was interviewed for a Nicaraguan TV news program about the tragedy at Uvalde. I’m almost certain I laughed involuntarily at various points, unable to ignore the ridiculousness of having to explain, in my borderland Spanish no less, to a Nicaraguan audience that in this country, you can be killed simply for going to school, or to the movies, or to church, or to the supermarket.

It was all I could do to keep from crying.

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More Uvalde Coverage from The Times:

Texas gunman: ‘I’m going to shoot an elementary school’

Timeline of Texas school shooting: 126 minutes of terror

Texas school shooting: How to help kids get through unspeakable horror

Gustavo Arellano: A Latino-on-Latino mass shooting. What now?

Mark Z. Barabak: Texas school shooting was ‘incomprehensible’? No, it’s just another day in America

Op-Ed: Why our response to school shootings is all wrong

Uvalde coverage from Texas outlets:

Houston Chronicle: How to help Robb Elementary School mass shooting victims and families

Houston Chronicle: Houstonians plan multiple protests at NRA convention in wake of Uvalde shooting

Texas Tribune: ‘We are in mourning’: As parents awaited news, Uvalde residents processed their shock and grief

Texas Tribune: Top Texas Republicans resist gun control and push for more armed teachers and police at schools in wake of Uvalde shooting

Dallas Morning News: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott attended fundraiser after Uvalde school shooting

Dallas Morning News: Uvalde CISD purchased social media monitoring service years before shooting

Austin American-Statesman: Gov. Greg Abbott says tougher gun laws ‘not a real solution’ to ending mass shootings

Austin American-Statesman: Who is Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, the politician who yelled at Beto O’Rourke?


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