I have so much to say, so much emotional distress, so much frustration rushing through my veins.
But what good will it do? Not a damn bit.
It won’t bring back the 19 children and two teachers who were slaughtered this week at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
It won’t bring back the 10 Black Americans who were gunned down this month while they shopped at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
It won’t bring back any of the people killed in the over 200 mass shootings our country has suffered JUST THIS YEAR.
And it won’t bring about any change or make a difference.
I’ve worked at three newspapers over 39 years in the business, mostly as an editor, and have edited and written headlines and photo captions for countless stories of heartbreak, loss, devastation and destruction. It’s never easy, but because we must do our jobs and meet our deadlines, we work through any feelings of sadness, whether the tragedy is a world away or inside our country’s borders.
This week at The Dallas Morning News has been the worst, the most painful words to read and edit.
Forever, it seems, Texas has been a source of big news — too often negative or controversial — including natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, constant political infighting, the JFK assassination, the electricity crisis, the Enron scandal and countless other stories.
And now, sadly, I’d have to say we’ve become the mass shooting capital of the United States, with eight of these horrific crimes in the past 13 years.
They started with the Fort Hood shooting in November 2009, in which 13 people were killed and 32 injured. They include the mayhem at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs in November 2017, when 25 people and an unborn baby were killed and 20 more hurt. They include the May 2018 shooting at Santa Fe High School, where 10 died and 13 more were injured.
And now, 19 innocent fourth-graders, whose sweet faces on our front page today bring tears to my eyes, and their two teachers have been erased from this life.
Why? We can’t ask the shooter because he’s dead. Mental illness? He was Latino, as were most of his victims, so a hate crime seems unlikely.
Why? We can ask the lawmakers, who still refuse to act to bring about the legislative changes needed to at least make a dent in all the carnage that continues to happen, day after day.
Then again, those lawmakers have been asked, pleaded with and lobbied by advocates for stronger measures designed to keep guns out of the hands of the people committing these evil crimes. By the tearful, emotional parents whose children and other loved ones have been struck down, defenseless against armed, armor-wearing cowards.
Speaking of cowards, the U.S. senators who are so beholden to the gun lobby that they can’t see the supreme logic in reinforcing background checks are the very definition of the word. How can they look themselves in the mirror and believe they’re doing right by their constituents — or by the tiny, powerless Americans whose lives were lost in Uvalde as they cried and screamed for mercy while the shooter’s weapons blasted them to heaven?
Somehow, our country, while being the envy of the world for its freedom and its passion for protecting it, also has become one of the worst examples of a country worth living in, one where life does not seem to matter. Where we go on killing rampage after killing rampage and do nothing to stop it.
Where we — or at least the ones we the people elect to serve US — have the power to effect change. Yet they sit with their collective heads up their asses, all because political power and gain are more important than people. Their hands are forever stained with the victims’ blood.
The community where this week’s crime took place holds a special place for my wife Kay’s family. Her paternal grandfather, Shelley Collier, was born in Uvalde, and his father, William Wallace Collier, was a banker there and held the position of state banking commissioner during his time in Uvalde. The community will never get over this, Kay told me last night.
As I said at the start, I have so much to get off my heart, but as with the millions of others who have tried to make their voices heard, it does no good. What will it take? Only God knows the answer. We can only pray that the people in Washington come to their lifesaving senses.
If not, God help us all.