In America, There Is Mass Death, Then There Is Nothing

It doesn’t matter how many people are slaughtered. It doesn’t even matter if they’re children, as they were in Texas yesterday. In America, the response to gun violence is nothing.

People become emotional at the City of Uvalde Town Square during a prayer vigil in the wake of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. (Jordan Vonderhaar / Getty Images)

There are no words. Even typing out this sentence feels ridiculous, pathetic, sickening.

What is there to say that hasn’t been uttered a million times before?

What can possibly be said when nineteen kids and a teacher are dead, days after another mass shooting, and another mass shooting before that, and another . . . and another?

What revelatory phrases or comments or “thoughts and prayers” can be uttered or tapped out on a keyboard or yelled into a microphone when we know from experience how this will almost certainly play out from here?

The massacre.

The press conferences updating the body count.

The official statements and tweets and Facebook posts and floor speeches expressing outrage.

Then more of the same.

The politicians heading to another National Rifle Association conference to scream about freedom.

The television pundits debating what’s politically “realistic” or “beneficial,” as if it’s all a game.

The clickbait ghouls crafting nuclear hot takes to try to get attention for themselves amid the carnage.

The false equivalence journalism insisting that since this horror is the product of so many awful cross currents, it means there is no singular solution . . . which allegedly means the only thing to do is shed some tears, grit your teeth, and bear it.

And then inevitably comes what’s best described as The Nothing.

The inaction.

The distraction.

The filibuster.

And the Supreme Court likely handing down yet another ruling making it even easier to buy even more of the weapons — and issuing that ruling on a case that arose in the same state where a massacre just happened.

And then within a few days or weeks, another slaughter.

Why am I even writing this? What is the fucking point? I don’t have a great answer. Maybe just to try to remain sane — or to at least remember the difference between insanity and sanity.

We know this status quo is insane because we know what sanity is — and we know it because other countries long ago showed us when they faced the same sort of tragedy and responded in a different, more rational way. Those choices didn’t solve everything, but they made some things better.

But in the name of some twisted form of exceptionalism, our society refuses to make those same choices.

Our political system is still OK with this being daily life.

Our country is still willing to be a place where when you drop your kids off at school, you must fear the unthinkable.

Our leaders are still insisting that this is “not who we are” — even as they make clear they are absolutely fine with this being exactly what America continues to be.

Maybe worst of all: on the whole, our nation is still fine with mass violence being political fodder for an unending culture war, rather than a problem to be addressed, confronted, and ultimately halted — or at least reduced.

This — whatever this hellish stasis is — is not even close to normal. Yet it is now the norm. It doesn’t have to be, but it always will be — unless enough of us do everything we can to end it.


Until then, take a few minutes away from the screen you’re reading this on and give your loved ones a hug.

Because in America, you never know if it will be the last one you get to give them.