Uvalde Murders and Gun Violence Prevention
Released June 8, 2022
Colleagues - our Diversity and Social Action Committee has prepared the following position statement in response to the preponderance of mass shootings in this country.
As members of the American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work (AAPCSW), we are outraged and profoundly saddened by the May 24, 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 fourth graders and two teachers brutally murdered. We mourn the victims of this tragedy and extend our condolences to their families and to the Uvalde Community.
We are not, however, surprised as still the mass shootings continue: In addition to Uvalde, the last few weeks alone saw shootings at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York; a church in Laguna Woods, California; a downtown gathering in Chattanooga, Tennessee; and a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
There are an estimated four hundred million registered guns owned privately in the United States, not including so called “ghost guns.”
“When it comes to guns, no corner of the country is untouched” (1). Given our history of gun-culture and the mind-numbing acceleration of mass shootings, the horrors of life lost to gun violence has both reached a fundamental crisis point and become an ordinary part of everyday life.
As a New York Times editorial from May 29, 2022 entitled, A Heartbroken Nation states:
“The United States seems to be failing to protect its people by the week. With the gun massacre in East Buffalo followed by the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, many Americans have spent the past few days gripped by overwhelming incredulity and grief, exhaustion and fury over the loss of life. What can be done beyond living with heartbreak?” (2)
And yet a heart broken nation must find a way to act. Right now, there is an urgent need for meaningful gun violence prevention laws, policies, and programs. We can not allow the political deflection of blaming gun violence on mental health to replace an urgent, thoughtful, and sustained focus on gun violence remedies that address the problem of guns.
As psychoanalytic social workers and psychoanalysts, we are intimately familiar with the complexities of what we are facing in these perilous times. We understand how unremitting threats against physical and psychological safety and the erosion of trust in our environment can lead to a relentless state of individual and collective trauma with devastating intergenerational implications. We also know full well that these ongoing disasters befall our marginalized and vulnerable populations more often and with more severe consequences — due in part, to entrenched racial, economic, and social injustices and the extreme political polarizations in our society.
It is time for us to act with renewed energy and appreciation for the urgency of the situation. At the organizational level, AAPCSW is working with other health and mental health organizations, including Mental Health Liaison Group (MHLG), in support of congressional passage of gun violence prevention laws, At the individual level, we can take action by contacting our congressional representatives and joining with other local and national groups with similar goals.
Our professional ethics and personal civic duty require us to remain fully aware and engaged in this process. We cannot allow ourselves to fall prey to the powerful conscious and unconscious dynamics of “normalization”. It is indeed time for us to act NOW!