Where’s the Memorial Day for shooting victims?

Betsy PickleOpinion

Today, our country observes Memorial Day, as we have done officially on the last Monday in May for 51 years. Prior to 1971, different states and cities chose a variety of dates to hold a Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, as the seminal events held during the Civil War were called.

The idea was to honor and mourn members of the military who had given their lives in service to their country.

This year, I believe that we should expand the list of those we honor. Yes, we should be truly grateful to all of those who fought and died in military service. But so many others have given their lives for their country, and it’s important to note those deaths as well.

Nevaeh Alyssa Bravo, 10; Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares, 9; Makenna Lee Elrod, 10; Jose Flores Jr., 10; Eliahna “Ellie” Amyah Garcia, 9; Irma Garcia, 48; Uziyah Garcia, 10; Amerie Jo Garza, 10; Xavier Javier Lopez, 10; Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10; Tess Marie Mata, 10; Maranda Mathis, 11; Eva Mireles, 44; Alithia Ramirez, 10; Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10; Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, 10; Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio, 10; Layla Salazar, 11; Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10; Eliahna “Elijah” Cruz Torres, 10; Rojelio Torres, 10.

The names above (via texastribune.org) are the students and teachers who were slaughtered on Tuesday, May 24, at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, by an 18-year-old high school dropout. They sacrificed their lives so that U.S. officeholders and citizens can defend a person’s Second Amendment right to own an assault rifle. And so that politicians could continue to take campaign donations from the NRA.

According to NPR, 27 school shootings have taken place so far in 2022. Mass shootings with assault rifles in general have tripled since the federal ban on the weapons expired in 2004.

Celestine Chaney, 65; Roberta Drury, 32; Andre Mackneil, 53; Katherine Massey, 72; Margus Morrison, 52; Heyward Patterson, 67; Aaron Salter Jr., 55; Geraldine Talley, 62; Ruth Whitfield, 86; Pearl Young, 77.

The 10 Black people listed above were gunned down and killed on May 14 at a supermarket in East Buffalo, N.Y., by an 18-year-old male using an assault rifle who had visited the store on March 8 to plan his attack. New York state police had given him a mental-health evaluation in June 2021 after he claimed he wanted to commit a murder-suicide, but no criminal charges were filed. Officials say his attack was a racially motivated hate crime.

The gunman allegedly subscribed to the long-festering belief among deluded whites that their skin color makes them superior to Blacks. He was said to have been radicalized by social media during the Covid-19 pandemic. The 10 victims gave their lives to preserve the First Amendment rights of racist activists – and the 2A right to own a semiautomatic assault weapon.

George Floyd, 46; Breona Taylor, 26; Elijah McClain, 23; Botham Jean, 26; Michael Brown, 18; Patrick Lyoya, 26; Amir Locke, 22; Daunte Wright, 20; Ronald Greene, 49; Atatiana Jefferson, 28.

The Black people on this list (among many others) gave up their lives so that white LEOs (on and off duty) could preserve their tactic of using racial profiling in their daily operations. Their deaths had the added benefit of empowering conservatives to claim that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization. Many of the perpetrators have never been prosecuted, and racial profiling continues.

These people and many others have died so that the United States can continue to pretend that it’s the greatest country in the world. Let’s ask the families of the victims if they think that claim is true.

It’s obvious that our country has a gun problem. It’s complex, and so will be the solutions. It’s estimated that 393 million civilians own a firearm.

But we’re running out of time. Racism and mental health are issues that will take years to fix, if they ever can be. But banning assault weapons and large-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds is a logical start, and it has helped in the past.

During the 10 years following passage of the federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994, mass shootings declined, though evidence of by how much isn’t confirmed. However, in the decade following the expiration of the ban (due to a sunset provision), multiple studies have attested that mass shootings tripled.

We can’t afford to let Uvalde become just another blip in the news cycle. We can’t let another mass shooting occur in another school. Next time, it could be your child or grandchild. Include that in your thoughts and prayers.

Betsy Pickle is a veteran freelance writer and editor.

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