Less than four months after a gunman entered an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and killed two teachers and 19 young children, there has been another shooting in the city.
On Thursday (8 September) afternoon two “juveniles” were taken to hospital after reports of gunfire in the city’s Memorial Park, according to local news. Authorities have said they believe it was gang-related violence. The incident happened roughly a mile and a half from Robb Elementary, where the shooting took place last May.
The timing was striking. Earlier this week students and teachers returned to school in Uvalde, though Robb Elementary has not reopened, its students sent to different local schools. Some parents of children who died in the May shooting have had to send their other children back to school.
This week’s shooting and May’s shooting were clearly very different in scope. In May, as well as those killed 17 children were injured, all while the police failed to act. Instead of entering the school while the shooting was ongoing, officers waited outside the building for over an hour. They then lied to the press about the incident, falsely claiming, for example, that they had confronted the gunman and that a teacher had left a door open, allowing him to get in.
The school police chief was fired in August and the local acting police chief was suspended in July. The Texas Department of Public Safety, however, had managed to escape much of the blame; only recently, following the release of body camera footage by local officials, have experts across the US asked why the state police, whose job it is to help in emergency situations, did not do more. It was the worst mass shooting of the year in the US, so far, and there are still questions about how it could have happened, and why those who had assumed for themselves the responsibility to keep people safe did not act.
It isn’t that we didn’t know there would be more shootings in the US. Of course there would be. Congress managed to pass some gun control legislation in June, but it was fairly minimal, watered down so as to get enough Republican votes to pass the Senate. Yet it’s hard to imagine even the most cynical among us predicted another shooting in Uvalde.
Writing about shootings in America had already become sickeningly repetitive, even ones involving schools and young children. Writing about shootings in the same city, just months apart, the horror of that repetitiveness becomes especially apparent. It is difficult to find the words with which to make a larger point.
There is only this: parents who lost children to gun violence still had to send their children back to school knowing they couldn’t protect them. People in a town in which a brutal massacre took place while the people meant to protect them stood by still get up in the morning and run their errands, go to work and try to go about their lives, until they are interrupted, again and again, by the firing of a gun.