Courtesy Twitter/Southlake Together

I was on my back porch the other day, listening to the birds, when I received a humorous text from a friend that broke my mood from that of serious concentration into joyous cackling as I’m known to do when something funny catches me off guard, usually scaring whoever is close by.

Right in the middle of that joy came a news update on a “Texas school shooting” at the top of my phone. All my good feelings turned immediately to panic as my heart dropped into the familiar depths known to all parents of school-aged children living in America, those who know too well those eternal seconds it takes to confirm that it wasn’t our child’s school in the news.

Instead of going back to my writing as usual after thanking God once again it wasn’t my 7-year-old daughter senselessly slaughtered, I stopped for a minute and imagined I lived in Uvalde, Texas. That unfathomable pain that nobody wants to immerse themselves in because it’s too difficult to even dwell on for more than a second without giving in to the fear can consume a parent if they empathize too long with the nightmarish reality of the day-to-day for all those moms and dads who were not so lucky.


Something like this is so unconscionably evil it feels justifiable to strike it from your mind, sustaining the self-preservation needed in reasoning that, no, there is no way that this will keep happening and there is absolutely no way it will happen to me. But that’s what the parents in Uvalde thought, and now every waking moment is that eternal second for them, every waking moment they can never go back to the safety of this self-preservation, this self-denial we all have taken for granted for far too long. They can never say no, that unspeakable evil could never happen to my child. Because it did. And it will keep happening, as it has for decades, if we keep living in the safety of that denial at the expense of the safety of our children, at the expense of our children’s lives.

Although this antisocial psychotic saw his 18th birthday only as a reference of time in the shooting, trying in his inhuman way to impress a 15-year-old girl he met online by stating that he was going to buy a gun and kill his grandmother (the first victim of the shooting) when he turned 18, another event happening around the time of this atrocity was President Joe Biden’s choosing the permanent director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

With the sickness of school-shootings epidemic looming large in psyches across the nation, the fact that Republican members of the Senate began scrutinizing Biden’s nominee, Steve Dettelbach, because of his past support for gun-control measures —including the assault-weapons ban — is just more incomprehensible inhumanity.

Another event of relevance is the media leak that shows the right doesn’t want the hypothetical children of pregnant mothers to be killed, but when it comes to actual living children, the conservative party has no problem thwarting measures to stop the massacre of them. And let me say “hypothetical” again for the cheap seats so that you can ask yourselves if God intended for every fertilized ovum to produce a child, what happens to the miscarriages? Medical complications? Or perhaps more relevant: Where was God during these shootings? I do believe in God, but every time I thank him for saving my child, I am now starting to question, “Why me?” “Why them?” “What in the actual fuck is going on?”

But then I get too emotional to go about my day, and so my autopilot wants to return to the safety of that aforementioned denial, but there are things that we can do. There are protests to march in and petitions to sign and votes to cast. There are studies to be done, discussed, and advocated for.

Studies like the one by Dr. Lori Post, a professor of emergency medicine and medical sciences at Northwestern University, which proved the ban on automatic weapons from 1992 to 2004 was effective. It’s one that President Biden has promised to reinstate with the help of Dettelbach — if Dettelbach is confirmed.

“The big thing about my study that is different from every other study is I find that if you prevent the access to assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and semi-automatic or rapid-fire guns, it prevents the actual mass-shooting incident itself,” Post said. “All the other studies have looked at how to reduce the lethality of these events, but I find that people don’t even go out and do a mass shooting in the absence of an assault rifle.”

Other studies have also shown that properly implemented background checks can be effective and help identify people with a propensity toward violence. Mass shooters “are not mentally ill,” Post said. “They are evil, and there are ways that you can identify antisocial personality disorders over time.”

Oh, really? It sounds like this psycho was identified as antisocial by everyone who knew him, and yet he purchased two automatic rifles on his 18th birthday with absolutely no problem.

Gun advocates usually say something like, “You don’t know about guns, so don’t talk to me about guns.” As if brushing up on gun trivia will save children. How about we just have guns that can’t rapid-fire anything? I’m no gun aficionado, but I somehow came up with that idea. If it took two seconds between bullets to fire a gun, it’s almost like you would have to really shoot with thoughtful aim at a specific target in most cases, which at the very least means having to think about the life you’re ending for more than a second before you end it.

Or here’s a thought: Every gun owner is entitled to only a certain number of bullets. Since nobody has to actually kill food to live anymore, I’d say five bullets per gun. If your hobby is shooting targets, save lives and get a bow and arrow for fuck’s sake. Yes, guns are easier for this activity and require less strength, but like everything else made easier, we must always ask ourselves: At what cost?

Maybe then if you were an antisocial, cowardly, dropout, you might think firing a gun that many times in public would require a level of effort, skill, and bravery you don’t possess and so maybe you’d just go watch Faces of Death and call it day.

Gun advocates are almost always cowards who feel paranoid and victimized and are threatened by a world they can’t control. “If I have a bunch of guns, the minorities can’t come in and push me around!” Or, “If I have a bunch of guns, the government can’t come in and push me around!” Or, “If I have a bunch of guns, women can’t come in and push me around!” Also, “My penis would shoot better.” Let me tell ya’ll a secret: You already live far away from minorities due to your privilege/cowardice; the government has atomic bombs, so they’re always going to push you around; and if you spent your money on Viagra (or penile enlargement) instead of guns, you might feel less scared of women.

The killer was counting down the days to his 18th birthday. What does that tell us? If teenagers can’t buy cigarettes until they are 21 now, why the fuck didn’t we include assault rifles in that ban, too? I sure hope he wasn’t smoking the day he gunned down those kids.

The reeling of the mind when you go too far down the rabbit hole of dystopian swelling in recent years also grasps on to the security blanket of satire to maintain an even keel. But this is just another defense mechanism as escapist as denial. Those parents are in inescapable pain.

What are our politicians, laws, and policies going to do about the continuous slaughtering of children? Keep selling guns to teenagers? Keep selling guns that are clearly made to massacre many with ease? Whose kids will it be next time? Maybe when it’s their own, we’ll see a change. — Jessica Waller 


This column reflects the opinions of the author and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Columns will be gently edited for factuality, clarity, and concision.