For the 21st time in nearly eight years, The Onion‘s homepage is once again filled with the headline, ‘No Way to Prevent This,' Says Only Nation Where This Happens Regularly. This satirical headline is a sad reminder of the frequent school shootings that occur in the United States. And unfortunately, when this headline is used, it can only mean that tragedy has struck once again. This time, 21 people were killed—including 19 children—at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, when an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself in the school for nearly an hour. He was eventually killed by the police.
The Onion‘s article changes slightly every time it is published. The picture, place, and number of victims change, but what remains the same is the quote from a fictional resident who always states, “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them. It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this individual from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what they really wanted.”
At the same time, the article also clearly states that the United States is the only economically advanced country where this type of tragedy routinely occurs and points to the irony of its citizens calling themselves “helpless.” According to NPR, there have already been 213 mass shootings in 2022—and the year is not even half over.
When The Onion first ran the story after the 2014 mass shooting in Isla Vista, California, they had no way of knowing its impact. But, over time, as they've continued to run it, it's taken on even greater importance, and in a 2017 interview former managing editor Marnie Shure calls the article one of her team's proudest accomplishments. “By re-running the same commentary, it strengthens the original commentary tenfold each time,” she shared. “I'm proud to work alongside the people who saw the potential in that, and who were able to send out that message and make it resonate. In the wake of these really terrible things, we have this comment that really holds up.”
To drive home the point, The Onion also posted a Twitter thread with every iteration of the story. The sheer volume of stories is a stark reminder of how much work needs to be done to prevent these tragedies. The coming weeks and months will be a clear indicator of whether or not new steps will be taken in order to stop these mass shootings.
In an emotional speech, President Biden stated what many people are feeling: “I am sick and tired of it. We have to act. And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage.” He also brought up the fact that most other countries do not have these types of mass shootings even though they deal with the same issues of mental illness, domestic disputes, and people on the margins of society. He called for more commonsense gun laws to be put in place and for a return to a ban on the type of assault weapons that are often used in mass shootings—including in Uvalde.
“As a nation, we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”
The Onion posted all 21 iterations of its ironically headlined story on mass shootings on its homepage and on Twitter.
— The Onion (@TheOnion) May 25, 2022