By: Matt Mirarchi, Director of Advancement

No one in the United States is safe from gun violence. On Tuesday, barely 10 days since a mass shooting in Buffalo, NY left 10 people dead–most of whom were Black and targeted by a white supremacist—at least 19 children and two teachers were murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX by a man who shot his grandmother prior to entering the school.

Mass murder is overtly political—the manifestation of systemic failings of policy and policymakers whose alignment with profiteering corporate interests leave everyday people and the next generation to grapple with mounting inequities. Access to firearms often is a cornerstone of policymakers’ platforms, while the cries of fractured families go unanswered. In the aftermath of every mass murder event in recent U.S. history, the chorus is the same: thoughts and prayers, with no substantive legislative action. (Indeed, within the week, several politicians had scheduled speaking engagements in Houston to promote the NRA.) 

When a country that touts its riches fails to safeguard children, it reveals its moral bankruptcy. When decision makers advocate against commonsense gun reforms—including comprehensive background checks and closing loopholes that allow domestic violence abusers to retain or secure firearms—they are prioritizing their own interests over those of the electorate; they are prioritizing access to a lump of metal whose only purpose is to maim, intimidate, or kill over the future of our children. And Enlace knows the correlation between domestic violence and mass gun violence is high—with 53% of perpetrators involved in mass shootings having shot an intimate partner or family member (as in Uvalde); two-thirds of women killed by an intimate partner being killed with a gun; and loopholes (like the Charleston Loophole) allowing abusers and stalkers to retain or secure guns (data source: Everytown for Gun Safety).

Future generations are already contending with intersecting crises: a pandemic, rampant school violence, climatic collapse, attacks on bodily autonomy, sky-rocketing economic and racial inequities—and the concomitant inaccessibility to life-saving food and water—and compromised education. They are being faced with a future shaped in the present by profiteering politicians beholden to corporate interests. In every facet of the U.S., children are being told, through the flawed examples of those charged with their care, that they do not matter—with Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian/Pacific Islander children, and all children of color bearing the brunt of such inaction. 

As are the majority of the school’s students, Uvalde is a predominantly Hispanic, low-income community. As with the mass murder event in Buffalo, the Uvalde murderer was an 18-year-old man. Toxic masculinity pervades every facet of U.S. society and political systems—with cisgender men leveraging it as a means of continually climbing upward, of gaining validation within misogynistic echo chambers. And even when self-identified men do not engage in violent actions, they still operate within a system that condones and even rewards violence to evidence “manhood.” For this, and many other reasons, Enlace encourages partners and community members to leverage the Healthy Masculinities Toolkit—a vital resource developed by the New Mexico Healthy Masculinities Collaborative.  

There must be a concerted, multi-pronged effort to mitigate the prevalence of gun violence. Enlace recognizes that one of the most effective means of stemming violence and its promulgation is community-focused anti-violence work: work that can reach children, youth, and adults whose exposure to violence—or violence-affirming behaviors—perpetuates the mentalities, beliefs, and actions that can contribute to violence against their families, friends, and neighbors. Enlace is here to offer support to child, youth, and adult survivors through our intergenerational services, and to educate the community—to foster and inculcate equitable, gender-affirming practices and behaviors that address the root causes of violence.  

As we hold the Uvalde and Buffalo families in our hearts, Enlace remains committed to our anti-violence work, and welcomes partners in progress to work alongside us.