It’s hard to describe just how heartbreaking it is to be a Texan right now. On May 24th, at least nineteen children and two adults were murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, a little town about an hour and a half from where I live. 

When I saw the alert that there had been another mass shooting (an alert that, horrifyingly, has become all too frequent), my first thought was:not again. I grew up in this. We all did. We were raised learning active shooter drills, taught how to find the nearest exit and hide under desks, to shield ourselves from bullets with binders and backpacks. I’ve heard news of my friends’ schools going on lockdown, invaded by armed gunmen. We’ve watched in horror as grocery stores, malls, movie theaters, churches, and schools became scenes of mass slaughter. 

The worst part? The government isn’t doing anything to stop it. Lawmakers, governors, news reporters, presidents—they rattle off the death toll, offer their thoughts and prayers, and shrug their shoulders as if their hands are tied. After all, it isn’ttheirchildren being murdered in public spaces. 

Are we safe anywhere?

When I was a freshman in college back in 2017, I got an alert on the Citizen app that there was an armed shooter on campus. We’d had this drill so many times before that no one was especially worried. When we told the professor about the alert, she kept teaching as if everything was fine. A few minutes later, someone ran through the hall screaming that the shooter was on our floor.

All we could do was lock the doors and sit in a terrified silence, waiting to see if we would live or die. I texted my grandma that I loved her, just in case. I thought,this is it. It was only a matter of time before it was my turn. Soon, I’d just be another statistic they showed on the news during the next mass shooting segment—while continuing to let it happen. 

After what seemed like an eternity, we were told we could go home. Someone on campus was wearing a belt made out of bullet shells and had been reported to security, triggering panic and chaos. It was a false alarm, but I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that that experience will stay with me forever. And I can’t even imagine how it feels to have gone through a real shooting, or experience the pain of losing a loved one in a mass shooting. 

Not so-fun fact: Did you know, in 2015, Texas passed theCampus Carry Law, allowing handguns on college campuses and in dorms? 

Meanwhile, Texas loosens gun laws

All of this terror and violence raging throughout our country is made worse by the fact that our government hasn’t made a single move to prevent mass shootings. In fact, gun laws in Texas are becoming LESS restrictive.

In 2021, Texas lawmakers passed apermit-less carry bill, less than two years after thirty people were killed in mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa alone. This bill lets Texans carry a handgun in public without a license or training. When the bill passed, Governor Greg Abbott called it the “biggest and best” gun law of the2021 legislative session.

This bill—the “biggest and best” gun law in Texas—is what allowed the gunman in the Uvalde shooting to legally possess and conceal carry the weapons he used to murder nineteen children. 

Under Texas law, there’s no minimum age to possess a firearm—which is genuinely mind blowing. In response to the Sutherland Springs church shooting in 2017 where twenty six people lost their lives, lawmakers proudly clarified that, yes, Texans have the right to carry handguns in places of worship. This begs the question: is there anywhere we’re truly safe from preventable gun violence? 

Outside of Texas, twenty other states also have some form of permit-less carry laws in place. In 44 states, openly carrying a long gun is allowed. Year after year, gun sales rise. 

Is there anything we can do? 

Our government has already failed us. It failed us after the first mass shooting when we saw the pain and chaos and death and chose to not protect our children. It fails every time another law passes that grants easier access to automatic weapons, every time an eighteen-year-old is allowed to purchase automatic rifles, every time we send “thoughts and prayers” instead of enacting actual change. It failed us when our country’spresidentasked, “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” 

The most important thing we, the people, can do right now is vote vote vote. Vote for leaders who are endorse gun reform and enact real change. Supportorganizations that provide education and research into gun violence. Educate your family and friends on the facts.Donateto victims’ families. 

Don’t forget to hold our government and legislature responsible. Almost 60% of registered voters want stricter gun control, according toPew Research Center. The majority has already spoken, but our leaders aren’t listening.

To the governing authorities who continue to let children die, I have just one thing left to say: Fuck your thoughts and prayers.