How do we end the carnage?

5/26/2022, 6 p.m.
Barely had we absorbed the anger, shock and sorrow that gripped us following the Tops Friendly Markets store massacre in ...

Barely had we absorbed the anger, shock and sorrow that gripped us following the Tops Friendly Markets store massacre in Buffalo, N.Y., before we heard the horrifying news that another mass shooting had occurred in Uvalde, Texas.

This time 19 of the 21 victims were school children at Robb Elementary School who were watching a movie, perhaps as a treat from their teacher just days before the school year’s end. Two teachers also were killed, along with gunman Salvador Ramos, 18, who’d shot his own grandmother in the face before heading to his next hunting ground at the school. It’s been reported that he used an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle on Tuesday at the school. By the time the bloodshed ended, the gunman also was dead, killed by police in the classroom full of fourth-grade students.

In Buffalo the 10 victims gunned down by a white supremacist were mostly elderly Black people minding their business while grocery shopping on a Saturday afternoon.

The Buffalo gunman, Payton S. Gendron, was arrested and charged with first degree murder. He is scheduled to appear in court in Buffalo on June 9 for an arraignment on his indictment.

Each time such senseless, heinous acts occur— whether in Columbine, Parkland, Sandy Hook, Charleston, Blacksburg, Orlando or Las Vegas— the same questions arise. How could this happen? Why did this happen? What are we going to do about it? What can we do about it?

Numerous studies have shown that America’s gun problem is the main culprit. Tens of millions of Americans own guns, and about four in 10 Americans live in households with guns, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey.

Yet, efforts to change our gun-toting society fall on deaf ears among politicians who refuse to enact stronger gun laws. Many point to the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings, which left 27 dead as proof. Most of the dead were children. No matter. A compromise bill to expand background checks in 2013 failed due to a Senate filibuster and lackluster support from Congress.

Others point to the ongoing vestiges of bigotry and racism against people of color as a reason for the killings. We’ve seen the latter to be true in Charleston and Buffalo, where the slain victims were Black, and in a Texas Walmart two years ago when 23 people were killed by a gunman who declared in an online post intentions to “stop the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

This week the Robb Elementary students killed were predominantly Latino.

Increasingly, the specter of mental health and a failing mental health system tends to bear blame for much of the madness. The Buffalo shooters’ mental health issues, rather than his stated disdain of Black people, were offered as reasons for his dispicable acts.

Given the evidence produced by authorities regarding the gunman’s true motivation, that’s a debate where the obvious needs no further discussion.

The response to the Uvalde and Buffalo massacres has been visceral and real. President Joe Biden, Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, NBA Warriors Coach Steve Kerr, civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump and others’ anguished and angry voices once more have risen, decrying the violence but, in reality, offering few words that provide true solace to the families left to bury their children, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.

So, what are we going to do about it?

President Biden posed similar questions hours after the Robb Elementary School killings.

“Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?” the president said at the White House on Tuesday evening. “It’s time to turn this pain into action. For every parent, for every citizen in this country, we have to make it clear to every elected official in this country: It’s time to act.”

Voters everywhere will have that chance to act come November and during future election cycles because, in reality, it may be years before the blood shed by our children and elders seeps into the souls of those who can end the “carnage” of which the president speaks.