Monday, 28 Nov 2022

Divisions run deep in Uvalde after school shooting: If youre not trying youre complicit

Divisions run deep in Uvalde after school shooting: If youre not trying youre complicit


Divisions run deep in Uvalde after school shooting: If youre not trying youre complicit

This story was originally published by The Trace, a non-profit newsroom covering gun violence in America. Sign up for its newsletters here.

It took most of the summer for the Uvalde school district to fire Pete Arredondo, the chief of the district police department whose blunders were largely blamed for the high number of casualties at the horrific mass shooting at Robb elementary school. The families of the victims acknowledged that it was the first real response to community demands for accountability, but parents, grandparents and siblings have not stopped organizing to oust - by protest or by election - those who were in charge on 24 May. Now, they're fighting to change gun laws in Texas, a state that prohibits its agencies from enforcing any gun control legislation passed since January 2021.

During sweltering summer protests and the subdued first days of the new school year, Uvaldeans told the Trace and the Guardian about the various ways the community was coming together and falling apart. A county commissioner remembered school walkouts in the 1960s and said he hoped things go differently this time. A former city employee said she had seen the potential for disaster and grieved her own prophetic words. A pastor lent spiritual support to those demanding change, despite pressure to bless the status quo. A high school student struck a balance between the urgency to bring change and taking things more incrementally alongside her peers.

At the center of it all were the families of those who were murdered, whose grief superseded any concerns about civic unity or political allegiance. For them, firing the inept, voting out the gun-friendly and changing gun laws are all part of a mission to make Uvalde safer. To make children safer. Resistance to that mission feels personal.

Speaking at a protest near the Texas capitol on 27 August, Brett Cross, whose 10-year-old nephew and adopted son Uzaiyah was one of the 21 victims, left no room for equivocation. He was there with hundreds to demand that the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, call a special legislative session to raise the age to buy assault-style weapons from 18 - the age of the Robb elementary mass murderer - to 21.

"Fight with us," he said. "Because you don't want to be fighting from this side with a hole in your heart."

There is no middle ground left in Uvalde. The shared cause of raising the age for buying assault rifles clarifies the two sides of the fight: those who demand change and those who oppose it. While Abbott himself had told Cross he didn't see guns as the real culprit in Uvalde, to simply accept inaction wasn't an option. Giving up was inconceivable to families who would have given anything to prevent their children from dying. The families saw no good excuse for those unwilling to join their cause.

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