As the mayor of Zionsville, Ind., a small town in the suburbs of Indianapolis, Emily Styron knows that her constituents count on her to remain calm. Two days after the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Tx., Styron snapped when she saw a comment on Facebook from someone who appeared to discount the role that guns played in the slaughter at Robb Elementary School. “I am so sick and tired of the stupid useless rhetoric … when it comes to gun regulation,” said Styron on Facebook, angrily lamenting the “mass murders” of children, reports the Washington Post. Styron’s anger reflects a sober reality for local officials across the nation. They are pessimistic that a federal — or even state-level — solution to the violence is forthcoming, even as President Biden renews his push for Congress to act. Instead, armed with little more than fresh outrage, elected officials, police chiefs and school leaders are scrambling to find other ways to keep their own communities from becoming the next to be shattered in unrelenting season of bloodshed.
Besides beefing up response plans and fortifying potential targets, local officials hope to revive public service campaigns that encourage even the youngest students to report suspicious behavior. Local governments also hope to scrape together enough funding to expand mental health services to try to reach troubled residents before they lash out in violence. “Everyone is on high alert,” said Charleston, S.C., Mayor John Tecklenburg, where 10 people were wounded in a mass shooting last week. “I am fed up with this situation and will certainly try to do anything we can, but it is a daunting situation.” Since May 14, when an allegedly racist gunman attacked a grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, there have been more than 35 mass shootings, including more than a dozen over Memorial Day weekend. So far this year, there has not been a single week in the U.S. without a mass shooting — defined as a gun attack in which four or more victims are injured or killed — according to the Gun Violence Archive.