At 8:15 pm on May 24, about three hours after Salvador Ramos killed 21 people, including 19 children, inside a school building in Uvalde, Texas, CNN ran a crawl under its coverage stating that the killer "acted alone."
In the narrowest sense, this is true. Ramos acted alone. But in fact, a long, long list of people --real people with real names--made it possible for Ramos to commit this barbaric act.
Depicting Ramos as a lone wolf actor, and not the product of a thousand decisions made by specific people, lets everyone else off the hook. Nothing will be done to end the pandemic of gun violence in the United States until everyone responsible is held to account. Tragically, however, the U.S. these days has an acute accountability deficit.
Here is a very short list of those who should be facing the music for their roles in the Uvalde massacre:
**The parents of the shooter, Adriana Reyes and Salvador Ramos, who created an unstable home life for the younger Ramos and left him to live with his grandparents.
**His classmates who bullied him over the years and teased him about a lisp and his appearance.
**The educational system in Uvalde that lost track of Ramos when he dropped out of high school.
**All the Republican lawmakers in Texas, starting with Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, who permit an 18-year-old to purchase an AR-15 weapon of mass destruction in the first place. (Paxton revealed just how callous and ignorant he is by saying the solution to such shootings is to "arm the teachers.")
**The National Rifle Association and other gun lobbying groups that prop up politicians like Abbott and Paxton and fabricate clever media sound bites to excuse mass murders, such as "Guns don't kill people; people kill people." Meaning, of course, don't touch the guns.
**The police officers who showed up at the school and failed utterly to protect the children. These were the "good guys" with the guns who are supposed to protect the rest of us from the bad guys with the guns. So much for the wisdom of that sound bite.
**Whoever it was who supplied Ramos with the thousands of dollars to buy the guns, the ammunition, and a vest.
**The store in Uvalde---Oasis Outback---that sold Ramos the two guns and 375 rounds of ammunition. (There are at least three other gun stores in this town of only 16,000.)
**The manufacturer of the gun, Georgia-based Daniel Defense, which also has a facility in Ridgeville, South Carolina. The company posted this on its website after the shooting: We are deeply saddened by the tragic events in Texas this week. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and the community devastated by this evil act. Daniel Defense donates to Republicans (only) who protect gun rights, including our own Senator Tim Scott.
**The Supreme Court of the United States, whose radical and indefensible interpretation of the Second Amendment has made the right to bear arms a civil liberty more jealously guarded than the rights to speech, assembly, privacy, and due process. This current SCOTUS is clearly more inclined to limit a woman's right to control her own reproductive health than it is to limit the right of an 18
year-old to purchase an AR-15.
Until we start assigning blame for these shootings and holding individuals other than the shooter accountable, little of consequence will change about our gun culture.
While the Uvalde massacre was largely the responsibility of Texans, this event could have occurred at any elementary school in South Carolina. A massacre did occur, of course, at Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015. In this case, a 21-year-old purchased a Glock
handgun, without completing even a cursory background check, and murdered nine parishioners in a Bible study class.
South Carolina is among the top 13 most dangerous states in the nation for firearms mortality. According to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, 22 people (per 100,000 population) die in the state each year from firearms, or more than 1,100 victims annually. In New York State that number is five per 100,000, and even in Texas it is lower than South Carolina's rate (14 per
A RAND corporation study shows that nearly 50% of adults in South Carolina live with a gun in the home. In New York State the rate is 20%, and in Massachusetts it's less than 15%.
Everytown Research is a non-profit organization working to end gun violence. It produces a ranking of the states comparing the strength of its gun laws. The 2022 report says, not surprisingly, that "South Carolina has weak gun laws---missing 39 out of 50 key policies" that could reduce gun violence.
Among the many common sense laws that South Carolina Republican legislators could pass but haven't, given their slavish devotion to an unlimited Second Amendment, are the following:
Banning the purchase of certain assault-style weapons originally designed for military use;
Closing the "Charleston Loophole" to insure that a gun sale cannot proceed before a background check has been completed;
Requiring that gun buyers take a training course before purchase;
Requiring that new handgun models have childproofing features;
Prohibiting the sale of high capacity gun magazines;
Banning persons convicted of felonies from possessing a gun;
Prohibiting domestic abusers from having guns while subject to restraining orders or after being convicted; and
Establishing school threat assessment teams to identify students at risk of committing violence.
Many of these laws would stop Uvalde-type massacres in South Carolina if they were passed into law.
Where do South Carolina's state and federal elected officials stand on gun control? We will assign responsibility, by name, in future posts. The situation is worse than you think it is.
DAVID M. RUBIN