Texas school shooting horror makes me sick to the stomach

This massacre was one of 27 school shootings this year


Rasha Abu Baker

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Published: Tue 31 May 2022, 9:14 PM

The harrowing events in Texas last week reflected the very worst nightmare of parents all around the world when 21 people were murdered at a school in Uvalde, a small city just 54 miles from the Mexican border.

Like most people, especially parents, the news was really hard for me to take in. It unsettled me deeply, and frankly; I could not bring myself to read the horrifying details. I tried hard to avoid any follow-up information as the story unfolded because it was just so heart-wrenching and made me sick to my stomach to think about how terrified those poor children must have been in their last moments and then the devastation of their grief-stricken and distressed parents and loved ones. These families will never be the same again.

Many families all around the world worry about their children’s safety from danger in public, on field trips, at the mall – everything and anything that keeps parents on guard, but for this to happen at a school, where our children should be at their safest outside of the family home, is too much to bear. I felt angry, heartbroken and confused over how children can be executed in this horrific way while in their assumed safe place, in an environment where they were supposed to be sheltered and protected.

To make matters worse, it was revealed that police waited 90 minutes before entering the building and stopping the shooter; although I’m sure that more information will be forthcoming about that particularly bad judgement and the repercussions.

Sadly, violent attacks like this are becoming increasingly commonplace in the US. According to The Gun Violence Archive, an independent data organisation, the US has surpassed 200 mass shootings in the first five months of the year. It defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people were shot or killed, excluding the shooter. Furthermore, according to Education Week, the Texas school massacre was one of 27 school shootings this year.

It bears repeating: in 21 short weeks, there have been 27 school shootings in the USA.

The Washington Post has spent years tracking how many children have been exposed to gun violence during school hours since the tragedy of the Columbine High massacre in 1999. It found that more than 311,000 students have experienced gun violence at school since then.

Some parties, under the bizarre illusion, that this is some kind of acceptable situation, claim that the US Constitution guarantees that all citizens have the ‘right to bear arms’. But is it really that simple?

The Constitution’s Second Amendment was designed to enable the rapid call-up of an armed force back in 1791, when the most dangerous weapon available was a handgun or long gun (rifle) that had to be reloaded after every shot – and while it is true that repeating or multi-shot guns did exist at the time, they were exorbitantly expensive, thus would not have been taken into consideration when the Amendment was drafted.

I think it also assumed that responsible adults, perhaps even those with some training or experience in using firearms, would answer the call. As a parent, I also like to think that the Amendment was drafted without the intention that those arms were to used on children.

The ‘man’ thought responsible for last week’s tragedy was just 18. Was he a responsible adult?

When I was 18, I was still finding my way in the world, my cognitive reasoning was erratic at best, and while I may have harboured the typical ‘teenage angst’ desire for the rest of the world to go away, I didn’t consider that as a literal necessity because I knew that anger passes and perceptions change.

This 18-year-old brutally killed 19 children, and two teachers, and as a consequence, the husband of one of the teachers died from a heart attack.

In discussions with my American husband before we had our two lovely girls, we looked at the possibility of moving to the US once they became of school age to raise them; we entertained the idea of moving there briefly after they were born. However, as time passed, it quickly became clear that that was unlikely to ever happen, as news stories began to affect us differently and things that impacted kids directly in the states – like this recent tragedy - resonated deeply within us.

No one wants to believe that their home, their cocoon of comfort, could represent such a big risk just by existing, but now we don’t feel like anybody can be safe and immune to these attacks - and as parents, we can’t take any chance of endangering our family like that. We simply cannot take the “it won’t happen to us” risk. My husband and I couldn’t look at the articles or pictures, we couldn’t bear to look at those innocent faces, and innocent lives lost are like no other.

Even as parents in the UAE, we can have most of those worries, but certainly to a much, much lesser degree. If there is even the tiniest element of relief to come from this moment it is that such horrific incidents serve as a reminder of how lucky we truly are living and raising our families in this country under a caring leadership.

I will not say that those unfortunate things don’t happen here, but they are extremely rare because the level of security in the UAE is unmatched (CCTV, policing, strict laws, security checks, the death penalty for certain crimes, etc.). But the real point here is that people just don’t have access to guns. What the circumstances prevalent in the USA today tell us is that access to guns, especially assault rifles, makes mass shootings easy; exacerbated by widespread drug use, bullying, limited affordable access to mental healthcare, and a general malaise formed around a misguided desire for ‘revenge’ against – something, real or imagined.

Perhaps it’s worth pointing out that in Canada, America’s neighbor to the north, they also struggle with similar issues: they watch the same TV shows and movies, play the same video games, listen to the same music, suffer from mental health problems, rampant inflation and lowering living standards – but since Columbine in 1999, Canada has had just three school shootings while the USA has had 200.

I don’t pretend to have the answer. I wish I did, but what I do have is grief and pain and gut-wrenching sympathy for a city 8,340 miles away that lost its children in such a shocking way. Innocence was lost at a school. But will lessons be learned?

Please, never again.

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