In the days after the Uvalde school shooting, Christopher Hooks looks at how the government has failed the children of Texas, focusing on banning books and demonizing transgender kids rather than working on ways to keep children safe.

How can anyone be expected to live this way, let alone a fifth grader? We should remember that the seventeen-year-old shooter at Santa Fe High School and the eighteen-year-old shooter in Uvalde were children too, who likely grew up taking part in their own mass shooting drills. We have to help them—we must. But our state has spent the past year talking about library books.

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.