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The blood of innocent children.
May 25, 2022
[Audio version here]
I delayed writing this edition of the newsletter, hoping to find the right words to address the latest massacre of schoolchildren, this time in Uvalde, Texas. That delay has not helped me to find those words. Instead, I will say what is on my mind and in my heart, and I make no apologies for any offense caused by my words. It is too late for offense; it is too late for grief; it is too late for political correctness; it is too late to “allow time for healing.” It is time for action. If we can’t protect our children, we do not deserve the democracy gifted to us by the sacrifice of nine generations of Americans.
It is far too late for America to disarm itself to the point that we can prevent all future mass killings—but it is not too late to do something to reduce the risk of future massacres. Republicans in Congress and state legislatures refuse to do anything, despite repeated massacres of children by killers armed with weapons of war while draped with body armor meant for combat. Those Republicans who refuse to act have the blood of innocent children on their hands.
Republican politicians have traded election victories for the lives of children. They exalt the protection of gun ownership over the safety of children. In the massacre in Uvalde, nineteen children and three adults were killed, but no guns were harmed. Republicans in Congress should be proud: they achieved their objective of protecting guns. They should be ashamed that they have contributed to the deaths of innocent children by protecting gun industry profits above all else.
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott has the blood of innocent children on his hands. He promoted the reckless implementation of “constitutional carry” in Texas, a law that effectively allows everyone to carry weapons everywhere without a permit. As a result, everyone in Texas is less safe. Abbott will attend the NRA’s annual convention in Texas on May 27-29th, shilling for votes and money from merchants of death even before the slain children of Uvalde have been buried.
Senator Ted Cruz has the blood of innocent children on his hands. His first response after the massacre in Uvalde was to attack Democrats for “politicizing the killings” to take away guns from law-abiding citizens. Got that? Ted Cruz’s first instinct after the massacre of nineteen children is (as always) to defend gun ownership. As an afterthought, he tweeted that he and his wife “lift up their prayers” for the victims and their families. The victims’ families would gladly exchange Cruz’s hollow prayers for his willingness to regulate assault rifles.
The Republican feral instinct to protect guns over people is the obstacle to action. Cruz and his fellow Republicans in Congress brag that they have prevented gun reform. Every single Republican in the Senate has the blood of innocent children on their hands. Every. Single. Republican. McConnell, Hawley, Graham, Collins, Murkowski. Add to that list Joe Manchin, who said after the Uvalde massacre that he would “do anything” to pass gun control legislation—except carving out an exception to the filibuster.
To those Republicans in Congress, I ask a simple question: How many children must die before you consider doing anything to reduce the risk of future massacres? 100? 1,000? 10,000? 100,000? Just give us a number, so we will know how many children we must bury before you finally put the safety of innocent children ahead of the profits of your gun-lobby overlords.
To the reactionary majority on the Supreme Court: You are currently writing the opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruen. You can uphold a century-old sensible restriction on the right to carry a concealed weapon by requiring “just cause,” or you can rule that anyone capable of completing a form can carry a deadly anywhere in public. As you torture the plain words and clear history of the Second Amendment, please reflect on the lives of the nineteen innocent children killed by someone who legally purchased an assault rifle only days after his eighteenth birthday. If there is an ember of decency or humanity in your hardening hearts, please do something to stop the madness that your Court has unleashed.
To the NRA: Find the human decency to cancel your annual celebration of the culture of guns and death. Allow grieving parents to mourn and bury their dead before you allow Trump, Cruz, Abbott, and others to spread their sick religion of gun worship. Cancel the raffle to win a rifle at the “Wall of Guns” exhibit. Cancel the seminars on “Concealed Carry in the Workplace,” “Sniping Today in Ukraine,” and “Bullet Proof Mind for the Armed Citizen.” Cancel the celebration with fireworks and entertainment from singer Don McLean on Saturday evening as the bodies of children await burial. And cancel the “National Prayer Breakfast” on Sunday, where you will invoke Christ’s name to support the “right” of an eighteen-year-old to buy a weapon of war designed to kill people.
To Democrats: Stop fretting over inflation and Biden’s poll numbers and historical trends during midterms. We must find the strength to bend history to our will. It is time to act. We owe it to the innocent children killed today in Texas—and to every child returning to school on Wednesday who trusts that the adults in their lives will protect them from harm.
There are important political stories roiling America on the evening of the Uvalde massacre. None of it matters. If we can’t protect our children from mass killings while they sit in a classroom, we should think of nothing else until we fix our broken democracy. We can no longer allow a minority to override the wishes of the majority of Americans to enact common-sense gun regulation.
We must never again elect a Democratic Senator who is not committed to abolishing the filibuster. We must never again elect a representative who is unwilling to ban assault rifles. We must eliminate the federal law that insulates gun manufacturers from liability for deaths caused by weapons they design and sell to kill people. And we must work tirelessly to defeat every Republican in Congress who has the blood of innocent children on their hands.
This is a dark day, but we owe it to our children to forge ahead despite our grief. Neither we nor they can afford the luxury of delay as we attempt to absorb this loss. We must act to reduce the risk of gun violence now.