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America, God take the guns from thee

Uvalde is the 213th mass shooting of the year, the 27th school shooting this year

Mourners attended a prayer vigil in Houston for victims of the school shooting that left at least 19 children dead at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, earlier Tuesday.MARK FELIX/NYT

Second-, third-, and fourth-graders. On Tuesday, 19 children were killed by an 18-year-old.

He gunned down 19 children and two adults, and those adults were somebody’s children, too.

Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, became the terrifying scene of the 213th mass shooting of the year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

A mass shooting is defined as a firearm assault in which four or more victims are shot or killed by the shooter.

It was the 27th at a school this year. We’re not even a full six months into 2022.

This is one of the deadliest school shootings in American history, second only to Sandy Hook Elementary School where a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six adults a decade ago.

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“As a nation, we have to ask,” President Biden said on Tuesday night, “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby and do in our gut what we know needs to be done?”

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004 and has yet to be renewed.

Last year, the House passed two bills inching toward gun reform legislation. The first would expand background checks to Internet buyers, gun shows, and private transactions. The second would allow authorities 10 business days for federal background checks before licensing a gun sale.

When it comes to gun policy, bills stall in the Senate where there is not enough Republican support. Yet they say they’re “pro-life” and Christian.

Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz are supposed to speak at the National Rifle Association conference, which begins Friday in Houston. Donald Trump is scheduled to be there, too.

We accept thoughts, prayers, and lies from those who worship money and guns as their gods.

This country was founded violently and since we won’t acknowledge it, teach it, and make a new way, violence is our lifestyle.

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The massacre in the mostly Latino town of Uvalde comes just 10 days after a different 18-year-old drove to Tops supermarket in Buffalo and live-streamed as he killed 10 people. They were mostly elders — Black folk who use their praying hands to bake for their families and feed their bodies as much as their spirits. The shooter targeted them because they were Black.

That next day, on May 15, there was a mass shooting at a Laguna Woods church in California. The shooter targeted the Taiwanese community out of hatred for Taiwan’s independence from China.

Last month, a 23-year-old shot over 200 bullets from a window in D.C. just before Edmond Burke School students — grades 6 through 12 — were to be released. There were injuries, but no fatalities.

“I ask all of you senators who refuse to do anything about the violence and 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,” Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Tuesday night ahead of the NBA Western Conference.

He asked everyone to not succumb to numbness, to imagine their loved ones as victims.

The coffin bearing the remains of Heyward Patterson, who was killed on May 14 in the racist shooting at a Tops Friendly Market, was carried from the Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church in Buffalo, N.Y., on Friday. Patterson was a 67-year-old church deacon whose life revolved around service and faith.Gabriela Bhaskar/NYT

We don’t need to fathom. We live in a war that will never be recognized as one because our riches and privilege paint us over as civilized. Even as we live, we are tainted. Pain becomes us.

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Violence is in the air in America. Eric Garner, like George Floyd after him, told you he couldn’t breathe.

We choke on the American urge to wield power over one another. We are a country of contradictions: We claim freedom while oppressing, a nation fighting for the future of a fetus while struggling to feed babies, a land where children go to school and grandmothers go to grocery stores and may never come home again.

According to a recent Washington Post poll, three-quarters of Black Americans are worried that they or someone they love will be attacked because of their race. Pew found that a third of Asian Americans have a similar fear.

No matter who you are, to be in America right now is to suffer from the sickness of American violence.

A 2018 American Psychological Association survey shows 75 percent of Gen Z counted mass shootings as a major source of stress. These are the babies who were born in the wake of Columbine and 9/11 and our slow awakening to the climate crisis.

They’ve grown up with not just fire drills, but active-shooter drills and a flood of harrowing headlines at their fingertips. Violence is everywhere.

In 2020, the year the pandemic started, the FBI reported the highest surge of hate crimes we’ve seen in 12 years.

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In 2020, guns became the leading cause of death for children in America. In 2020, a USA TODAY analysis of Gun Violence Archive statistics shows mass shootings surged by nearly 50 percent. In May 2020, there were almost twice as many mass shootings as there were days of the month.

This month, we’ve already had 44.

Polling will have us believe that most Americans want it to end. Eighty-four percent of voters, including over three-quarters of Republicans and 82 percent of independents, support a thorough background check for gun purchases. But the bill has yet to pass the Senate.

Either we don’t really want change, we aren’t voting for leaders who care, or we want power more than we want peace.

Every day, we find a new way to light our lives on fire and wave the names of those we lost in the ashes around online with a prayer and say we’ll change.

And then morning comes and the mourning ends or perhaps we mourn so much it is as much a part of the American psyche as the norm and the numbness of violence itself. America knows no safe places.


Jeneé Osterheldt can be reached at jenee.osterheldt@globe.com and on Twitter @sincerelyjenee and on Instagram @abeautifulresistance.