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Last week I opened my column with these words: “I was shocked! I was appalled! I was infuriated by the callous attack on innocent Black people at the Tops grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y.!” I would not have guessed that, once again, this week I would be proclaiming the same outrage against gun violence – this time in Uvalde, Texas. If it is possible, I am even angrier this week at the murder of 19 innocent fourth graders and two of their teachers by another gun-wielding degenerate.

I am overwhelmed by the present and future loss attributable to this senseless act. The talents and potential of nineteen blossoming minds and bodies are lost forever. The light that these children brought to their families, friends and communities is extinguished forever. For good or bad, the tangibles and intangibles of their lives will never be realized for no good reason.

Once again, the pleas for responsible gun safety legislation rings loudly from the ranks of Democratic political leaders. These same pleas are heard after each of the ever-increasing number of mass shootings we now experience. Once again, we are left waiting in futility for corrective action by our federal legislators. While necessary, the redundancy of these appeals and the resulting inaction are a stain upon the soul of our nation.

Republicans, who profess a “pro-life” commitment, have been absent in their demonstration of the same. In the days since this massacre, their response has been laughable. Their “thoughts and prayers” and “there’s insufficient information to discuss this event now” rings hollow against the pain of this loss of life. They attempt to deflect attention from the real cause of this travesty to more manageable talking points.

They attempt to explain this event with a focus on mental illness. I passionately believe that while hatred and disdain for other human life can be called an aberration of thought and judgment, labeling it as mental illness cannot and does not provide a clinical excuse or cover for these heinous acts. Rather, I see these self-same Republicans who sponsor intolerance and racial/cultural/”tribal” divisiveness as sponsors of these tragedies. Their hypocrisy becomes more obvious as they try to explain away the reasons for gun violence. While they legislatively support a loosening of gun laws and promote increased general access to firearms, they shed crocodile tears and claim to lament the loss of life. In the wake of such tragedy, they show their support to grieving families by attending an NRA function 300 miles away from the slaughter.

The light at the end of the tunnel are students — the targets and victims of school violence. They cannot vote yet, but they are expressing their contempt for legislative inaction. They are out of the schools and on the streets demanding the change which is obviously needed. They proclaim that they will no longer accept their victimhood or allow their futures to be sacrificed on the altar of the status quo and inaction.

It is regrettable that we cannot believe or assure that those currently holding political office will do the right things for our children, our future. However, our children have made it clear that when they can, they will force the necessary change with their votes.

As I stated last week, “They were significant to all who knew and loved them, and they will be dearly missed. They are also significant to those of us who respect their lives and what they represent to our communities. Our fight to save our lives is never-ending and must be vigorous and successful.”

Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women.

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