May 25, 2022

Editorial: In the wake of the Texas school shooting, is there any hope left?

The children of Uvalde, Texas, are no different than the children of Greensburg or New Kensington or Pittsburgh.

The parents of Uvalde are no different than the parents of Latrobe or Sewickley or Tarentum.

The kids of Robb Elementary were looking forward to school ending on Thursday and the start of summer break, with its bike riding and swimming and ice pops melting down their hands and chins. Just like kids at Penn Middle or Deer Lakes or Munhall’s St. Therese.

For 19 kids and two adults, the school year ended with bullets and blood and body bags.

It isn’t a Uvalde problem. It is a problem for every state, every school, every family — because it could have happened anywhere.

It has happened. It happened at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in 1999. It happened at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., in 2012. It happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2018.

That would be enough, if those 59 people — overwhelmingly children — died and 40 more were injured.

But they have not been the only ones. These three — now four — shootings represent the deadliest school massacres.

We have lost students and teachers at colleges and high schools and middle schools and elementary schools. We have buried babies who could barely read. And we have done nothing to stop it.

When do we put enough children in the ground to make politics not worth the price? When is the everlasting election issue of gun rights versus gun control not worth the votes it will generate? When do we stop arguing that it is really a mental health issue without providing more mental health care?

When is enough enough?

Do not say it is too soon to talk about it, that people are grieving, that this is a time to heal. The time to talk about it is at least 23 years past. The time to do something about it was before first graders died terrified in a classroom with their teacher.

The time to heal was before parents outside a Texas elementary school were asked for samples of their DNA to identify their murdered children.

Regardless of whether you support gun rights or want to see change, we should all want to see children survive third grade. If we can’t agree on that, there is no hope for anything else.

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