Call What Happened in Texas This Week What It Is: Murder

Words matter

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Like millions of parents and grandparents this week I’ve been unable to sleep. My heart is shattered, and I can’t get the unthinkable tragedy of Uvalde, Texas, out of my head. I’m wringing my hands as I listen to people like Senator Chris Murphy say out loud what we all know: This only happens in our country, and ask his colleagues, “What are we doing?”

What are we doing?

I’m not a Senator or a lawmaker or a lobbyist. But I am a storyteller and a marketing guy, and part of this business is changing narratives. So, let’s start there.

The news on every platform is covering “the shooting in Texas.” They have reported that “two guns used in the shooting were purchased by the shooter on his 18th birthday.” The shooting? The shooter?

That word doesn’t even begin to convey what happened in Texas. 

A director can shoot a film. A photographer can shoot a picture. A responsible gun owner with a legal weapon can shoot a clay pigeon at a shooting range. This was not a shooting. What happened in Texas was murder. A massacre. The 21 individuals who are now dead were murdered. Let’s call it what it is. As a verb, the definition of murder is “to kill or slaughter inhumanly or barbarously,” and until we stop softening the narrative, we are not going to face the hard truth. 

We don’t need visceral responses from Capitol Hill, we need action.

People with easy access to guns are massacring people in our country—many of them children—and we are largely doing nothing to stop them. People will argue it’s not guns that are murdering people; the cause most frequently cited is mental illness. But as the pundits have pointed out, we don’t own the franchise on lunacy. We are not the only country with a mental health crisis. We are the only country with a school murder crisis. 

We don’t need visceral responses from Capitol Hill, we need action. I won’t go so far as to say those who obstruct or delay or block common sense gun laws are accomplices to murder, but that’s closer to the truth than saying they are accomplices to shootings. 

There were 27 murders or attempted murders committed in schools this year alone—more than five per month. Articulating this tragedy accurately might seem like a small thing, but words matter. 

What happened in Texas was not a shooting. It was murder.