Written by: Lily Arangio
When my fellow March For Our Lives San Jose lead team member, Sara, sent a BBC article about the Robb Elementary School shooting, the first words that came to my head were, “Not this again.” With this incident marking the 27th school shooting in the United States this year, my response was predictable and expected. But I should not have a predictable, expected response to a headline informing me someone murdered nineteen people at an elementary school.
Immediately, I thought of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut that claimed 26 lives, 20 of which were six and seven-year-olds. I thought of my mom’s coworker who lost her six-year-old daughter, Avielle Richman, that day. She kept photos of Avielle on her desk and, in 2019, her husband, overwhelmed by survivor’s guilt, took his own life. The story reminds me that a shooting with nineteen victims -- the current count for Robb Elementary -- affects more than just nineteen people. I thought of every parent, every sibling, every grandma and grandpa, every aunt and uncle, every teacher, and every classmate of the Robb Elementary victims. In a 2018 poll, 58% of adults reported that they or someone they cared about had experienced gun violence. Realizing every person that knew those children was becoming a part of the 58%, my heart broke for them as tears filled my eyes.
Scrolling through the article, I did a double-take when I read that Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the shooting horrific and incomprehensible. While I agree with his adjective selection, the irony lies in the fact that Greg Abbott’s legislative decisions created the environment that enabled this tragedy to take place. When a gun kills someone, it affects more than just that person. Similarly, when a school shooting happens, the blame falls on more than just the shooter. Though it is not yet publicly known how the shooter got a hold of the weapon, we know how Greg Abbott fell short in preventing the shooting.
Greg Abbott signed the law that allows people to carry a gun in public without a permit and proper background check. Greg Abbott signed the law prohibiting state agencies from enforcing new federal gun laws. Greg Abbott signed the law that exempts firearm suppressors from federal laws and regulations, so long as the suppressors are made and remain in Texas. Most ironic of them all, Greg Abbott signed the law that makes it easier for 18 to 20-year-olds to buy a gun; the shooter who claimed the lives of nineteen children and one teacher at Robb Elementary School was 18 years old. Though Greg Abbott claims he doesn’t understand how this shooting happened, when he has only made it easier for dangerous individuals to obtain firearms, I, unlike Abbott, can comprehend how this tragedy occurred. What I cannot comprehend, however, is why he is so shocked by the consequences of his actions.
In recognizing how Greg Abbott failed the students and staff at Robb Elementary School, my goal is not to turn their lives and deaths into political statements. However, if we do not address the system that allows these disasters to happen -- and the people that shape that system --, gun violence will continue to claim and ruin lives.
As an organization, we are working to mobilize action that responds to this tragedy. Please look out for ways to take action against gun violence and ensure justice for the Robb Elementary School victims, and all other victims of gun violence. As this news story is still unfolding, this post is accurate as of May 24th at 6:40 PM.