Nothing is changing in Texas.

As the last of the little boys and girls are buried and mourned in Uvalde, and families are left to their inconsolable private grief, we who stand outraged by yet another senseless and preventable mass shooting will mark time until the next killing.

Educators will conduct active shooter drills at their schools. Students will have fear implanted in their young, active minds. Parents will pray their children come home safe. Legislators will speechify and offer purported solutions of their own design, avoiding the counsel of experts advocating for real gun reform.

And then, later this summer or perhaps in another season, there will be another mass shooting in Texas. It will be followed, ritually, by the politicians who hold power in this state falling over one another to send their thoughts and prayers to families of the victims. They will organize press conferences, dress up in their game warden shirts, and rail about evil. They will appoint committees led by dependable, like-minded politicians. There will be hearings, more speeches, little real action.

Here is the now-familiar formula: Express empathy for the victims and their families, at least until the news cycle produces another dominating story, promise a variety of new measures and emergency spending, but never agree to change the state’s gun laws.

The ruling politicians in Texas have engaged in tail-chasing responses to the Uvalde mass shooting that left 19 young children and two teachers slaughtered by assault weapon fire dead in their Robb Elementary School classrooms on May 24.

Gov. Greg Abbott wants a state education safety director and lots of campus inspections. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants tens of millions of dollars spent on bulletproof shields, and recommends a single door manned by an armed guard at each school campus.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wants to arm more teachers because, as he told attendees at the National Rifle Association convention in Houston, “what stops armed bad guys is armed good guys.”

A phalanx of armed law enforcement officers idled for more than one hour outside the classroom where 18-year-old shooter Salvador Ramos awaited them. For that crucial amount of time, no one successfully entered with their guns to confront the killer. So much for more good guys with guns.

What Republican politicians in Austin are not willing to acknowledge is that new laws should be passed to prevent people like Ramos from walking into gun stores and buying assault weapons, large capacity magazines, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Do they really believe that? Probably not, but if there is one thing most fear it is being voted out of power. While a majority of Texans have expressed support for new laws responding the gun violence, the far-right primary voters who keep a grip on the party feel otherwise.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott arrives while US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden pay their respects at a makeshift memorial outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott arrives while US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden pay their respects at a makeshift memorial outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Credit: Chandan Khanna / AFP via Getty Images

Yes, we should spend far greater sums on community and school mental health services, and strengthen public security at all of our campuses wherever practical. Keep in mind that on April 29, only 45 days ago, Abbott directed that $210 million from the state’s Health and Human Services Commission and $160 million from the Texas Department of Public Safety be reallocated to Operation Lone Star, his controversial border security initiative.

Diehard so-called Second Amendment supporters, many of them also diehard Republican primary voters, apparently feel episodic mass shootings and gun violence are a necessary price to pay for their definition of individual freedom and gun rights.

The changes put forward by experts over the years would not prevent a law-abiding adult from purchasing and possessing firearms for hunting, target practice, or personal defense. A majority of Americans clearly support effective background checks, red flag laws, raising the age from 18 to 21 to purchase firearms, outlawing assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, and stopping the unchecked private sales of firearms that are not subject to background checks.

Yet Abbott, Patrick, Cruz and other politicians continue to insist changes to current laws would not reduce mass shootings or other gun violence.

They have no special expertise. They are politicians. And they are wrong.

There is one weapon people have to stop this gun violence and to prevent the next mass shooting at a school near you. It’s your vote.

Robert Rivard, co-founder of the San Antonio Report who retired in 2022, has been a working journalist for 46 years. He is the host of the bigcitysmalltown podcast.