You wrote about the firearms debate in Uvalde. In past shootings, survivors and others affected have become involved in gun control activism. Did it happen there?
It’s a complicated question here. This is the South Texas countryside. Guns are woven into politics and culture. Some people in town support the reflexive Republican position of needing more “good guys with guns,” despite the many issues with the police response. A lot of families are fed up and think it’s unconscionable that an 18-year-old could buy two assault rifles. But it’s a quiet conversation.
Even from a distance, covering these stories is difficult. Just looking at pictures of these children breaks my heart. How do you approach your reporting from the field?
We don’t think enough as journalists, collectively, about what we’re doing to these communities.
The school district is full of TV trucks, SUVs and cars rented by journalists. There are blocks outside the school filled with tents where TV reporters do their thing. It sounds like a political convention.
Families receive constant calls and door knocks. Many of them want to share their stories and think it’s important for the world to see who their children were and what made them special. The first few times, people like it. But after the 20th person knocks on your door, it can become another wound.
I don’t know what the solution is. There is a lot of important journalism to be done on these issues, on these families and these children and the failures in response to the shooting. It’s really important to tell these stories.
Learn more about Jack Healy: He got his first full-time journalism job as an intern at The Times before joining full-time in 2008. He covered the war in Iraq and now works as a national correspondent based in Phoenix.