After Texas School Shooting, Community Mourns Victims from Surge in Gun Violence

Students Express Anger, Frustration at Vigil

Community+members+circled+around+Senior+Grass+at+a+vigil+on+Wednesday+to+mourn+the+victims+of+the+Uvalde+massacre.

The Hotchkiss Record

Community members circled around Senior Grass at a vigil on Wednesday to mourn the victims of the Uvalde massacre.

Candlelights dotted the perimeter of Main Circle late Wednesday evening as the community gathered to mourn the victims of the school shooting at an elementary school in Texas, as well as those killed in the racist attack at Tops Supermarket on May 14.

The community’s vigil — organized by incoming all-school presidents Chris Mudry ’22 and Richie Mamam-Nbiba ’22 and current all-school president Sydney Goldstein ’22 — came after a gunman unleashed a barrage of bullets inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday. At least 19 children and two teachers died in the massacre, state officials said.

The attack came as second through fourth graders at the school were wrapping up the school year, which was set to end on Thursday, according to the school district. The gunman — identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos — reportedly shot his grandmother in the face before driving to the rural school and barricading himself in a classroom and firing on the children and teachers inside in what became the deadliest American school shooting since Sandy Hook a decade ago.

News of the shooting sent shock waves through Uvalde — which is a rural, majority-Latino town of about 15,200 — and convulsed the nation, prompting widespread calls for stricter gun control and broader gun reform. 

In a speech delivered Tuesday evening, President Biden echoed the anger and frustration of many Americans at the lack of legislative progress. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” He asked. “Why do we keep letting this happen?”

Mr. Biden then called out firearm manufacturers and their lobbyists. “For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry,” he said. 

The community shared similar sentiments — grief, anger and frustration — as well as a heightened sense of empathy given the shooting’s location at a school. At the Wednesday evening vigil, a handful of students delivered words of condolence, and others gave impassioned pleas for action. 

Luis Soto Moyers ’22, who is from El Paso, Texas, said he heard about the shooting from a friend, and initially hoped that it was “a horrible joke.” 

“I felt shocked,” he said, adding that it reminded him of the 2019 shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, during which a racist gunman killed 23 people. “I still remember the shooting in my hometown. That’s one of the saddest days I’ve ever experienced.”

Others didn’t approach the news with disbelief, given the relative frequency of mass shootings in the United States. “Shocked, but not surprised,” said Mr. Tom Drake, who is the director of the school’s Center for Global Understanding and Independent Thinking, adding that he is “ashamed about our unwillingness to respond over the last twenty years.”

The lack of legislative action on gun policy reform has angered many who view the Uvalde massacre as another preventable tragedy.

“The people responsible for this are Texan officials that haven’t done much following previous attacks,” said Soto Moyers, who believes that there needs to be changes in gun laws in his state, which has historically been lax on firearm regulation.

Mr. Drake, inspired by a New York Times article, suggested refocusing the discussion entirely. “Those on the left-side of the political spectrum need to abandon the term ‘gun control’ in favor of something that is more complex, like ‘gun safety,’” he said. 

“We need to accept the fundamental commitment of a large number of Americans to gun ownership and to focus instead on issues of regulation,” he continued, suggesting legislation that would raise the minimum age for gun ownership and implement universal background checks.

But as Democrats — blocked by Senate Republicans — failed to push such measures through Congress on Thursday, it remains uncertain what substantive progress lawmakers will make on gun reform, leaving the nation on edge as shootings become more common.

“I’m going to college next year,” said Grace Keefe ’22 at Wednesday’s vigil. “And I pray that I’m not next.”

Lauren McLane ’23 contributed reporting.