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Sports media personalities Dan Le Batard and Stephen A Smith opened up on air about the Uvalde school shooting, and how something must change in the United States as it pertains to gun violence.
Ten days after an anti-Black mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket shook the nation, the deadliest school shooting since the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy took place in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen children and two adults lost their lives on Tuesday in the deadliest school shooting in the state’s history.
The United States is reeling from the violence, and as the nation mourns together, figures in the sports world are sharing their thoughts on the massacre. Despite the extreme violence that is shooting crowds of innocent people—and in this case, elementary school children—the conversation often morphs into one about Second Amendment rights and legalizing gun reform, which turns a tragedy into a political talking point.
Dan Le Batard, who is famous for his opinions on sports news, wanted to sidestep the political conversation that surrounds mass shootings. Instead, he implored his listeners for an answer to the violence.
“These days, we live in a country where there are no safe spaces left to hide from this uniquely American sickness,” Le Batard said. “There is little worse than you can say about a place that it can’t protect its most vulnerable, but it’s something we can say about America now without dispute.”
Dan Le Batard, Stephen A Smith reflect on the Uvalde school shooting and American culture
“It is so hard to come by empathy these days,” Le Batard continued. “But this one hits everyone in the heart because we all imagined in the randomness of it, in the cruelty, in the unimaginable horror, of dropping kids off at school with so much life and then never getting to touch that life again. That it could be us next, because it could be.”
“When are we going to do something?” Le Batard implored his audience over and over.
Le Batard wasn’t the only one wondering when enough will be enough. ESPN’s Stephen A Smith called on politicians to spring to action after another tragic day in American history.
What makes school shootings uniquely American is not only the gun enthusiasm that Le Batard noted: it is a conversation inextricably tied to the mental health crisis in the United States. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the month has already seen Buffalo’s Black community targeted at a supermarket and a Texas elementary school, populations who were, as Le Batard said, “vulnerable.”
Smith notes that elected politicians are in place to “get things done.” Thus far, very little action has taken place, minus the usual thoughts, prayers and partisan talking points. It’s beyond frustrating, given the circumstances.
The connection has been drawn that both gunmen were 18 years old, and in the aftermath of Buffalo, details were revealed that the gunman was an avid gamer who espoused hateful white supremacist views. Virtually every school shooter has expressed feelings of loneliness and isolation, a feeling has been described as a “loneliness epidemic” in the United States.
The individualism prized in American culture makes Americans uniquely prone to loneliness: “36 percent of all Americans — including 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children — feel “serious loneliness,” according to a Harvard study.
What makes school shootings American is not just guns: it’s a societal detachment seen in every mass shooter. Whether the targets are because of race, religion, gender or age, that, and the ubiquitous access to guns, makes every American a potential target in the public space.