Author, musician and activist Hollye Dexter addresses gun violence

There are a lot more than 21 victims in Uvalde.

The media seems to gloss over the fact that fifteen victims were hospitalized, as if the fact that they survived is some kind of exhale, a happy ending.

My brother survived and has lived with a bullet in his brain since he was shot at seven years old. He can’t hold a job, can’t leave the house, suffers from severe PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

My best friend Dani survived and lives with PTSD and a body full of shrapnel from being shot five times at close range with hollow point bullets.

I have two friends who survived Columbine and now are confined to wheelchairs for the rest of their lives, dealing with the many medical complications that come from living with paralysis. They are also plagued by pyscho Columbine killer fans who stalk them, and gun nuts who accuse them of being crisis actors.

Pat, a boy I dated in high school, was an EMT who airlifted kids out of Columbine. The trauma from that day destroyed him. He suffered terrible PTSD and lost his career. He was in a tailspin for years.

We often hear about the 45,000 Americans killed by guns every year, but rarely do we hear about the more than 100,000 gunshot victims who survive, and the family members whose lives are shattered.

We don’t hear about the grueling trials, medical bills, the lifelong physical and emotional complications, the inability to work.

We don’t hear about those who survive the loss of a loved one; the grieving parents, widows, and children left behind.

The media rarely reports on the trauma experienced by the witnesses, the EMTs, the police, the people who clean up the blood and the mess.

We don’t hear about the marriages that crumble in the aftermath, the parents who die of heart attack or cancer, or suicide, after the loss of a child.

We don’t hear about the mothers who give up their own lives and lose their careers so they can care for an incapacitated child, or the community members whose sense of safety and justice has been forever shattered.

The victims of Uvalde are countless. Think of the children and teachers who witnessed the deaths, the ones who attended the dying, who attempted and failed to save lives. Most, if not all of them, will live with PTSD, nightmares, and depression. Most of them will likely never feel safe in school or at any public event again. It will affect their work lives, their relationships, the way they raise their children.

Gun violence is a monster with vile tentacles that reach far and wide. It is a public health crisis of epic proportion to which our nation’s GOP legislators have turned a blind eye, while offering nothing but hollow “thoughts and prayers.

So what can you do?

I am begging you to VOTE in every election. Every single one.

To SPEAK UP against this sick gun culture, even when it’s uncomfortable.

To hound your Senators to pass sensible gun reform.

Put this number for Congress in your cell phone: (202) 224-3121. Use it often. You will be able to reach your two Senators and your member of Congress. Tell them to pass Universal Background Checks. To ban assault weapons (we did it before, we can do it again). To pass Ethan’s Law (Safe Storage).

And lastly, do not give up hope. We fought the tobacco lobby and eventually overcame. We fought the religious lobby and eventually passed marriage equality.

We can topple the gun lobby, but it will take all of us. We can’t afford for anyone to sit on the sidelines.
At the scene of every mass shooting, witnesses say, “I never thought it could happen here.”
It can.
It will.

Get involved.