A pile of guns 1
For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Agency

Yet another school shooting took place last week, this time in a small town in Texas, US. Tragically 19 elementary schoolchildren and two adults lost their lives when a white male wearing full body armour and carrying a semi-automatic rifle entered the school premises and began his murderous spree. Several more children remain in critical condition in the hospital as a result of wounds sustained in the attack.

The attacker who had recently turned 18 had qualified and purchased two firearms shortly before his killing intent. He began playing with his new toys by firing at his grandmother and severely wounding her before moving on to a nearby school where he started pumping bullets in the kids. Bullets tore through their young and fragile bodies, cutting their beautiful lives short.

Those who follow the news are becoming extremely aware that such an occurrence is no longer rare in the United States, where school shooting has taken a bizarre foothold, along with the mass shooting we hear and read of almost every week.

Nonetheless the incident shocked the US — and much of the world. Speaking from the White House, US President Biden noted, “I had hoped when I became president, I would not have to do this again. Another massacre. Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school.

Beautiful, innocent second, third and fourth graders. And how many scores of little children witnessed what happened to see their friends die, as if they were on a battlefield, for God’s sake. They’ll live with it the rest of their lives.”

A grotesque case

The shooting that had occurred on the last week before the summer break and during Biden’s return trip from Asia resulted in the US flag at the White House and all other federal buildings to be flown at half-staff. “What struck me on that 17-hour flight, what struck me was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world. Why? They have mental health problems.

They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost, but these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency they happen in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage?”

Saying that he was sick and frustrated by such mass shootings, he added, “As a nation, we have to ask, when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”

NBA Warriors coach Steve Kerr echoed the president saying, “When are we going to do something? I’m tired. I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I’m so tired. Excuse me. I’m sorry. I’m tired of the moments of silence. Enough. There are 50 senators right now who refuse to vote on HR8, which is a background check rule that the House passed a couple of years ago. It’s been sitting there for two years.”

“There’s a reason they won’t vote on it: to hold onto power. I ask you, Mitch McConnell (a leading Senate republican leader), all of you senators who refuse to do anything about the violence, school shootings, and supermarket shootings, I ask you: Are you going to put your own desire for power ahead of the lives of our children and our elderly and our churchgoers? Because that’s what it looks like. That’s what we do every week.”

Teresa, a middle schoolteacher from the Midwest stated, “I am sitting here paralysed. It runs through my mind that my life may depend on having a Kevlar vest to wear. This is where we are. Stress for teachers is increasing. Educators are walking away because their lives don’t matter.

We have active shooter drills all the time. We ‘know’ what to do. I’m sure they practised in Texas too. I’m sure the kids and their teachers ‘knew’ what to do. 19 kids and 2 teachers died. School preparedness isn’t the problem. The problem is the gun. It’s the gun!”

Herein lies the conflict. The right to bear arms is promoted heavily by gun lobbies who annually spend a major chunk of their profits on favourable politicians’ election campaigns to ensure that no strict legislation is passed, irrespective of the cost of lives. Politicians are being bought, and the NRA lobby knows fully well who are sleazy enough to target.

Fortunately, in our part of the world, no such amendment exists. There must be no mercy forevil, brazen mass murderers.

Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi sociopolitical commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Twitter: @talmaeena