Editor, Times-Union:

We are, once again, mourning something that we’ve been told we can’t control.

This time it’s in Texas, where 19 children and two adults are dead at the hands of yet another lone gunman whose easy access to guns brings this unspeakable crime back to where we must, yet again, speak of it. Here we are in May, suffering the horrors of the 38th shooting in an American school this year, and the deadliest event since the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in 2018.

We want to pray for the parents of these dead children, and mourn with them for their loss, but those prayers are not enough. The people in power must do more to protect the innocent lives of children in American schools. Today, parents mourn the loss of 19 children. Colleagues, friends and families also mourn the loss of two adults. Beyond the 19 children who died today, every child in that school is left with the permanent scars of this terrible and traumatic event.

The rhetoric of unlimited gun rights does not correspond with the rhetoric of protecting children, and we cannot have it both ways. Today we didn’t just lose 19 children, we lost the unlimited potential of youth. That room may have housed the cure for cancer, or the answer to unlimited clean energy. That room may have housed future leaders of this country, leaders we will never know.

Do not say it can’t happen here. Uvalde County is a beautiful rural county west of San Antonio, home to about 25,000 people. It would cleanly fit in with us right here in northeast Indiana in the Third District. Texas, just like Indiana, has unlimited carry laws that allow teenagers to easily acquire guns and carry them wherever they want. Texas, like Indiana, is controlled by a Republican Party that can do whatever it wants and pass any bill it wants. Texas, like Indiana, has placed the rights of gun owners over the rights of children, allowing unfettered access to deadly weapons.

We would be remiss if we did not discuss the racial aspects of yet another shooting in America. In Buffalo, we saw the ugly specter of Replacement Theory end the lives of 10 people and destroy the lives of countless others. Media sources chalked it up to “mental illness” and never once mentioned the prevalence of guns in society and the ease with which they are available. Today, when a Hispanic teenager shoots children in a Hispanic neighborhood, (Uvalde is more than 70% Hispanic, and 10% foreign born) we see ICE sent to the scene, threatening mourning families. Tomorrow, right-wing media won’t blame mental illness for this shooting, they’ll blame immigration, and that is deplorable.

We must do more to protect our future. We must challenge the people who are responsible for protecting our children to do better. Today, we will mourn, because tomorrow we’ll get back to fighting.

3rd Congressional District

Indiana Democratic Party

Chair, Christine Bohm

Fort Wayne, via email

Editor’s Note: This letter was edited to reflect that 19 children, not 18 as originally submitted on May 24, were killed.