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Uvalde stays in the mind despite all distractions, a pleasant day at a little summer house in Connecticut and Scrabble on the porch and the drive back to Manhattan on the Merritt Parkway with its arched stone bridges dating back to the days when families went for a “drive” for pleasure — it stays because it is so real. I don’t understand economics, Ukraine is far away, climate change is an abstraction, but the terrified parents across the street from their kids’ school hearing gunshots, they are real, and I have a great-niece who is the same age as the kids in room 112 and I imagine her as the girl who lay on the floor among dead classmates and called 911 and said, “Send the police now, please.” That is my niece, a lively independent spirited girl who loves reading and bonds with her grandma and eats like a trucker but is thin as a rail thanks to the intensity of her life. That girl has a name, like the kids in Texas.

The teachers Eva and Irma are real. They are my fourth-grade teachers, Miss Carroll and Mrs. Moehlenbrock. The Border Patrol trooper in the hallway who said to his two colleagues, “Let’s get this done,” and the three of them burst into 112, I know men who would’ve done that. The shooter is completely unreal, a blank shadow.

It’s tragic that he didn’t know about the NRA convention a few days later, he could’ve gone to Houston and found himself among like minds and gotten some of the hatred out of his system. They’re in favor of assault weapons and so was he. They share a similar mental illness, except that he knew what automatic rifles are for and they deny it. The weapon isn’t for hunting or sharpshooting or self-defense: it’s designed to spray a great deal of lead and kill as many people as possible. It should be illegal.

I pity the paranoid Second Amendment crowd with the AR-15s in the front hall closet so they can defend themselves against leftist public school teachers coming to inject them with critical race theory vaccine or false-flag Girl Scouts selling cookies that contain transgender virus. It’s a miserable life, shades drawn, meeting fellow lunatics in secret websites, aware that the FBI has tapped your phone and is sending info to George Soros. The rest of us enjoy a picnic among the rhododendrons and mountain laurel, no pistols in our picnic baskets, no ammo belt under our T-shirt, and we feel more attached to our cellphones than to our weaponry.

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Life is good in this beautiful country that God has blessed, and the paranoids in our midst are missing out on all the best stuff. The shooting range is a grim place compared to a ball game. At a ball game, you have women and children and other normal Americans, there’s bratwurst and ice cream and peanuts, you sit enjoying the chit-chat of your neighbors, amused by some humorous hairstyles, waiting for some astonishing feat, a center fielder leaping high to snag a would-be home run for the third out, bases loaded, or the classic ballet of the SS-2B-1B double play. At the shooting range, there’re only weird men with homicidal fantasies blowing holes in paper targets. What’s the pleasure?

The gun fetishists who talk about needing guns to defend against the government are talking nonsense: the insurrectionists who took over the Capitol in 2021 didn’t bother to bring their AR-15s because they already own the government, having the U.S. Senate in their back pocket and the Supreme Court. There was no need for artillery; they own fifty senators and so nobody will interfere with their right to own tommy guns. You can’t own heavy mortars or surface-to-air missiles that could bring down an airliner, but in another ten years, who knows? The odds are on your side.

The right wing holds power but holding power leads to the fear of losing power. You walk down the street, packing heat, bulky in your armored vest and jockstrap, and you see liberals behind every bush and tree microwaving leftism into your brain. It is not a good life.

I want to believe the girl who called 911 survived that horror. I hope she has a peaceful summer among people who love her and grows up and finds her mission in life and gets out of Texas and has a good life and that the horror fades and that eventually a May 24 comes along when she forgets to grieve.

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