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Another day in America, another massacre. The country is once again reeling from the latest mass shooting—this time in Uvalde, Texas, where an 18-year-old armed with military-style rifles murdered 19 elementary school children and two teachers, less than two weeks after another 18-year-old murdered 10 people, most of whom were Black, at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
While the individual grief of each of the families whose lives have been shattered is undoubtedly distinct, our collective response to these concurrent tragedies has become rote. If we aren’t yet numb to the violence visited on our communities—in churches, synagogues, mosques, grocery stores, and schools—I suspect most of us have come to expect it. The response is predictable: Local and national media will publish heart-wrenching photos of vigils for the dead, scores of people will turn to social media to express their outrage, and politicians will offer “thoughts and prayers” while continuing to accept massive contributions from the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby. Meanwhile, the number of mass shootings continues to increase each year; 2021 saw a record high of 249 school shootings alone, reports The Conversation. This year is already on track to surpass last year’s record, as the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Texas is the 137th school shooting in the U.S., less than six months into the calendar year.
These acts of domestic terror occur so frequently that deep networks of support already exist to support survivors, family members, and national and global community members moved to action. Chalkbeat, a nonprofit media outlet dedicated to reporting on education, has compiled a list of resources for parents and educators who are struggling to determine “What to say, what to do” in the wake of this latest tragedy. The American Psychological Association, likewise, has a plethora of resources for “coping with mass shootings [and] understanding gun violence.” Everytown for Gun Safety is an advocacy organization (largely financed by Michael Bloomberg) formed after the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. The nonprofit Sandy Hook Promise, formed by parents whose children were killed in that school shooting, is currently hosting trainings on how to build more inclusive schools in hopes of stemming the tide of violence.
Each of us responds to this kind of tragedy differently, and there is no singular “right answer.” For me, as a journalist who has covered mass shootings before, as a Coloradan who knew people attending Columbine High School when that school’s name first became synonymous with gun violence, and as a parent to a young child, I struggle to find hope for meaningful change. I do not know how I will tell my daughter, who turned 2 in March, to prepare for the lockdown drills she will inevitably experience when she starts going to school. I do not know what to say to the teenagers in my life who have never known a true sense of safety inside their school walls, who continue to look to the grown-ups in their lives to help keep them safe, and who continue to see us fail to do so. I do not know what to say to the politicians who sidestep their responsibility to provide the most basic protection to their constituents and who continue to prioritize political donations and partisan politics over human life. I don’t have any answers.
But maybe you do, dear YES! readers. Maybe you’ve had conversations in your homes, your communities, or your city halls that have changed hearts, minds, or even policy. Maybe your own children have asked you questions that made you think differently about these issues, or maybe you have cultural or ancestral knowledge that can help us find a path forward. I invite you to join me and the YES! staff in the comments section below. Tell us where your heart is today. Tell us what solutions you see, what conversations you’re having with your loved ones of any age, that point toward less violence. Share with us stories of restoration, of hope, and of harm reduction. Because it’s clear we can’t keep going on the path we’re on. But if we put our heads—and hearts—together, maybe we can start to move toward solutions that keep us all safer.
Sunnivie Brydum is the managing editor at YES! An award-winning investigative journalist with a background covering LGBTQ equality, Sunnivie previously led digital coverage at The Advocate, Free Speech TV, and Out Front Colorado. Their writing has appeared in Vox, Religion Dispatches, them., and elsewhere. She has a degree in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and is a co-founder of Historias No Contadas, an annual symposium in Medellín, Colombia, that amplifies the stories of LGBTQ people in Latin America. They are based in Seattle, speak English and Spanish, and are a member of NLGJA, SPJ, and ONA.