Fellow Americans, it's long past time to take a good, hard look in the mirror.
The fact that we just had yet another horrific school shooting, with 19 children and two teachers being massacred in their classrooms by a guy with military-style guns that he easily and legally obtained, is maddening. The fact that we've seen this same story play out in schools across the country over and over and over again is enraging. The fact that too many of our lawmakers refuse to take any legislative action whatsoever to try to curb the constant carnage, completely ignoring the vast amounts of data that show gun laws do work to reduce gun violence, is disgusting.
Sandy Hook should have been enough. Parkland should have been enough. Columbine should have been enough. Every single school shooting should have been the end of it. But here we are.
As the individual stories of the children killed at Robb Elementary School come to light, we can't turn away. We must bear witness to what they experienced, to the terror they and their surviving classmates endured, to the anguish and heartbreak of their loved ones.
But as we do that, let's not embrace "brave hero" narratives for these children the way we do with soldiers on the battlefield. Please. Let's just not.
The Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas posted a tribute to Uvalde fourth grader Amerie Jo Garza on Twitter, sharing that the organization had posthumously bestowed upon the slain 10-year-old the Bronze Cross, one of the highest honors in the Girl Scouts, and it was like a punch right in the gut. I'm not sure if I've ever seen anything so well-intentioned feel so dark.
"The Bronze Cross is awarded for saving or attempting to save life at the risk of the Girl Scout’s own life," the tweet thread read. "On May 24, Amerie did all she could to save the lives of her classmates and teachers. It was our honor as Amerie’s council to present the Bronze Cross to her family, and Girl Scouts will continue to pay tribute at her funeral services today with a Presentation of Colors."
\u201cLast week, Girl Scouts of the USA posthumously bestowed upon Amerie Jo Garza, 10, of Uvalde, Texas, one of the highest honors in Girl Scouting: the Bronze Cross. The Bronze Cross is awarded for saving or attempting to save life at the risk of the Girl Scout\u2019s own life. 1/3\u201d— Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas (@Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas) 1654007740
"We will carry her story with us always and ensure her brave actions will endure for generations," they wrote.
I'm sorry, what fresh hell dystopian reality did I just fall into? As a parent, I cannot even begin to fathom how I would process being handed a Girl Scout honor for my daughter for her bravery during a school shooting. Only in America, right?
\u201cWe will carry her story with us always and ensure her brave actions will endure for generations. \n\nLearn more about ways to help our sisters in Uvalde at https://t.co/o9Xnd6M0Jb. 3/3\u201d— Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas (@Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas) 1654007740
To be clear, I'm not faulting the Girl Scouts for doing something to honor Amerie Jo Garza. She was a Girl Scout. To say nothing and do nothing would be wrong. But this also feels wrong. Everything about this situation feels wrong, because it is wrong.
The Girls Scouts shouldn't have felt the need to posthumously awarded Amerie a Bronze Cross, because they shouldn't have had to figure out what to do in light of her death, because she shouldn't have had to try to save her classmates before being shot to death in her classroom, because the 18-year-old who murdered her should never have been able to obtain two AR-15 rifles and 1,657 rounds of ammunition. It simply shouldn't have happened. Period.
The Uvalde gunman had more ammunition than soldiers carry into war. Let that sit for a second. There is zero—absolutely zero—reason for any civilian to have access to that much killing power.
And the result of our insistence on repeatedly doing nothing about this reality is that we talk about fourth graders—who should be doing fractions, not hiding from gunfire in their classrooms—with the same heroic language we use for soldiers who make the ultimate sacrifice. It's unbelievably disturbing.
\u201c@CorrosiveRabbit @BrynnTannehill @girlscoutsswtx It says \u2018For Valor\u2019. JFC, what have we become as a nation when the GIRL SCOUTS are giving out medals more commonly associated with bravery on the battlefield. Posthumously, no less! Stop the world, please. I think I\u2019d like to get off of this one\u201d— Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas (@Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas) 1654007740
This is it, America. This is the bottom. And it's not like we just got here. We've been dragging ourselves along the bottom for decades now. Are we going to stay there or are we going to finally snap out of our delusion that our country's gun culture equals safety and freedom? Because all signs point to that being a complete and total myth.
When our kids and teachers can't go to school without worrying about being gunned down at their desks, it's clear that we are not free. When little Amerie Jo Garza's parents are handed a Bronze Cross for their 10-year-old's brave actions in a school massacre—when there were armed and trained officials at the scene—it's clear that we are not made safer by guns.
Enough is enough, and enough came and went a long time ago. Our lawmakers need to borrow a backbone and pass the gun legislation most Americans agree on before our kids start earning scout badges for successfully surviving a mass shooting.