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Tennessee mom pushes gun-safety changes after Nashville school shooting | #schoolsaftey

Her son survived an attack that killed three schoolmates and three adults. Now she’s an activist for stricter gun laws, pleading with a Tennessee legislature that’s stacked against her.

Melissa Alexander looks down onto the chamber of the Tennessee House of Representatives. Her 9-year-old son was at The Covenant School on March 27, when a shooter killed six people, including three of his schoolmates. She is now advocating for tighter gun laws. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post)

NASHVILLE — Melissa Alexander wanted to make Gino Bulso feel it in his heart, in his gut.

She told him her story: Her son was in his fourth-grade classroom on March 27 when a shooter smashed into the school and started firing. He stood silently against a wall with the other children, feet away from the killer. He heard the shots that killed three of his 9-year-old schoolmates and three adults.

“He saw his friends dead on the ground,” she told Bulso.

“Gosh,” whispered the Republican lawmaker, a father of five. “Oh Gosh.”

Since the mass shooting at The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Alexander, 44, has been jolted into political activism for the first time in her life.

She is among thousands of brand-new Tennessee activists, largely led by mothers, who are pleading with the state legislature to pass stricter gun laws during a special session called by the governor and scheduled to begin on Monday.

Standing in their way: a powerful Republican-supermajority legislature that has resisted demands that lawmakers say infringe on rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Despite polls showing that most Tennesseans support tighter gun laws, the state’s conservative tilt and its gerrymandered legislative districts mean GOP lawmakers face little prospect of competition in the general election. So they have few incentives to respond when the public backs policy changes they don’t like.

Bulso, 61, is in his first term representing Alexander’s affluent Nashville suburb in the state House of Representatives. He is a Catholic and trial lawyer who has argued against proposed gun-law measures he says are unconstitutional.

Alexander is a fellow Republican and gun owner who had never considered getting involved in politics until America’s epidemic of mass shootings nearly claimed her son.

Now they sat side by side in the conference room of Bulso’s law office, with a panoramic top-floor view, and Alexander, who sells commercial real estate, was trying to bring him around.

“I just want to find a way, Gino,” she said, leaning in. “We need to make it safer for our kids.”

Bulso listened intently, saying little as Alexander made her case.

“I know there’s got to be a path forward somehow,” she said. “It does feel like all eyes are on Tennessee right now. I’ve always been proud of this state and how we step up. I just think there’s a way to shine here.”

Tennessee has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the nation. But with tragedy at a suburban Christian school sparking a rare burst of advocacy for stricter gun measures in this conservative state, GOP lawmakers have been under pressure to respond.

Activists mobilized by the Covenant shooting held some of the state’s largest political demonstrations in decades this spring, generating national attention. This summer, they have been more quietly trying to persuade lawmakers one by one.

Many of the new activists are from the state’s liberal minority. But a significant number, including Alexander, are conservatives, gun owners and defenders of the Second Amendment.

Most, like Alexander, are not seeking to ban any particular type of weapon or emulate the more restrictive policies of a state such as California. Instead they are advocating changes that they say they believe will uphold the rights of gun owners while helping to make mass shootings less likely: universal background checks for gun purchases, safer gun storage requirements and an “extreme risk protection order” law, also known as a red-flag law, that would allow a judge to remove firearms from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Alexander likes to say, “Nobody is more Tennessee than I am.” She is a lifelong Republican who recalled growing up with modest means in a rural area just outside Nashville, where many of her schoolmates drove around with two shotguns in the gun racks of their trucks.

She taught her son, now 10, and daughter, 13, to shoot when they were 5 years old. Her son owns two shotguns, including one that belonged to her husband when he was a boy.

She said she was raised to believe that talking about politics is impolite. Public policy was far from her world. She didn’t know citizens could enter the state capitol or request meetings with legislators.

But now she is educating herself, trying to overcome her longtime fear of public speaking, making her case directly to legislators and the public. She is sure, despite the daunting politics, that the state is poised to make big changes.

“A mass shooting hit one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Nashville and a very conservative Christian school,” she said. “Affluent. Conservative. Christian. Who do they vote for? It’s up to Republicans to change history in Tennessee.”

In Tennessee, the GOP has become the only party with power. Although the state was politically contested for decades, it has been dominated by Republicans since 2010. The GOP now controls the governorship, both U.S. Senate seats, 8 of 9 U.S. House seats and 102 of the 132 seats in the state Senate and House.

Republicans say their advantage reflects the state’s conservative nature and the Democrats’ leftward shift. “Democrats in Tennessee were never liberal — never,” said Beth Harwell, who was GOP House speaker from 2011 to 2019. “When the party went liberal, they just left. And they had no place to go but to the Republicans.”

Experts say the GOP’s veto-proof, supermajority margin in the legislature has been inflated by Republican lawmakers drawing district lines to maximize their majority, most recently last year, in a process known as gerrymandering.

The result is that the Tennessee legislature is just 23 percent Democratic in a state where Joe Biden won 37 percent of the vote in 2020.

Only seven of the state’s 99 House seats, and zero of the 33 state Senate seats, are rated as “competitive” by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, a nonpartisan research group that studies the issue nationally. Last year, more than half of state legislative seats went uncontested in the general election.

That means lawmakers in both parties are, for the most part, picked in primary elections by a small number of the most ardent partisans.

Harwell said uncompetitive races lead to more extreme legislators, which most Tennesseans don’t want.

“Honestly, I think I was a better state representative because my district was almost a 50-50 district,” said Harwell, who represented Nashville. “That made me more responsive, and I certainly listened to the other side more than I would have otherwise.”

Supermajorities, which have proliferated nationwide as states turn deeper shades of red or blue, can become “immune from public opinion” and “can engage in extreme behavior without paying a price in terms of political power,” said Sam Wang, director of the Princeton program.

“The result is a government that is almost totally unmoored from the voters it is supposed to serve,” he said.

This spring, Tennessee lawmakers were criticized across the nation for expelling two young Black state representatives, Justin Pearson and Justin Jones, who interrupted a House session with a bullhorn as part of an anti-gun protest.

Both have retaken their seats after special elections. But the state now faces a new test of its democracy: whether a Republican supermajority will respond to widespread demands for action on guns, including from fellow conservatives.

Tennessee Republican opposition to virtually anything that tightens guns laws is out of sync with public opinion in the state and the nation, according to independent state and national polls.

A Vanderbilt University poll in May found strong bipartisan majorities of Tennesseans supporting stricter gun laws. Those included strengthening background checks (82 percent total; 72 percent of self-described MAGA Republican voters) and passing red-flag laws to prevent gun-related violence (72 percent total; 50 percent of MAGA Republican voters).

Gov. Bill Lee has at times broken from his fellow Republicans on gun policy. After Covenant, where two of the three adult victims were friends of his wife, he signed an executive order tightening the state’s background check laws for gun purchases.

He also called for legislation creating an extreme risk protection order, which has been enacted in 21 states — including GOP-controlled Florida and Indiana.

“These are the moments for which the people of Tennessee elected us to listen and to act,” Lee said in a video announcing that proposal. “I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is possible when we’re talking about the safety of our children, our teachers and innocent lives. The only thing standing in our way is politics — on both sides of the aisle.”

After the legislature declined to act during its regular session, which ended in April, Lee invoked his power as governor to schedule a special session that he said would focus on “public safety.”

Lee’s positions have prompted a passionate backlash from some Republicans. In June, state Rep. Jody Barrett, a lawyer from Dickson, just west of Nashville, wrote a letter to Lee that said, “God-fearing Tennesseans DO NOT APPROVE of any variation of a red flag law.”

Barrett, who did not respond to a request for comment from The Post, called activists for stricter gun laws a “cadre of charlatans” who “do not care about Tennessee or dead children.” He said they had “stepped over the dead bodies of innocent children” to push their efforts.

Alexander understands the political obstacles and the difficulty of changing minds. But she still senses that the state is at a tipping point on guns.

“How can it not be after what happened?”

March 27. Monday morning at Alexander’s house: Up, dress, eat, out the door.

She and her son climbed into her black Chevy Tahoe SUV, cranked up the Christian rap music and sang along on the 10-minute ride to The Covenant School.

“I love you,” she remembers saying as her son hopped out. He said nothing. She laughed. Boys.

Three hours later, Alexander was at home on a Zoom call. Her phone kept buzzing. A number she didn’t know. She had just made partner at her firm. It was an important meeting and her video was on, so she ignored the calls.

Then an email popped up in the corner of her screen, from her daughter’s school: “We’re on lockdown. Pray for Covenant.”

Alexander felt a chill: What did that mean?

Just then, at 10:51, the phone rang again. She clicked off the video and answered. Her 9-year-old son was crying and begging for her.

Alexander didn’t ask any questions. She said she just knew. Her baby had been in a school shooting.

“I love you. Mommy’s coming. I will be right there.”

She hung up. She had no idea why. Maybe she was worried he was hiding from a shooter and needed to stay quiet? She didn’t linger on it. Her mind was wild with one thought: Get to him.

In the car, she heard herself screaming. She kept yelling as she blew through red lights and stop signs and blasted her horn at drivers in her way.

“Please God,” she screamed. “No! No! No! Let him be okay.”

At the school, she pulled up to a shock of flashing lights. Police everywhere. Roads blocked.

“I’m a parent. My son’s in there,” she said she yelled to a police officer.

“Check the fire station,” he said.

She ran toward the station at the foot of the hill. She saw teachers. The lunch lady. Pastors from her church. Their faces said it all: Something terrible had happened.

Police were keeping everyone out. She cupped her hands to the station’s big garage-door windows. Inside she saw kids everywhere.

It hit her: She had no idea if her son was alive.

He saw her at the window and ran up, screaming for her to come inside.

She remembers telling him: “I love you. You are safe and I am right here with you. I will never leave you.”

She pressed her hand flat against the window. He did the same, and they stood there, holding hands through the glass.

It seemed like forever. She told him to meet her at the side door. She ran around and asked the officer to please let her hug her son. Okay, just for a minute, he said. She held him tight and felt him alive and safe.

More than four hours later, at Woodmont Baptist Church, where the Covenant survivors had been brought by bus, the family reunited. Her husband, John, had finally been able to make it through all the police blockades. He was waiting by his truck when his wife and son emerged.

The three of them shared a long, deep embrace.

From across the street, news photographers captured the moment.

The next morning, Alexander was watching the “CBS Mornings” show on her phone. The TV news was filled with the horror from Covenant. Alexander wanted to keep the worst of it from her young son, so she listened with ear buds.

She froze. The photo of her family embracing was one of the lead images on the national news.

It hit her like a crashing wave. She remembered being angry that “this is now my reality.”

Instinctively she took a screenshot of her family on CBS and began tapping out a message on LinkedIn. She has a big network on the site, mainly people in her conservative real estate world. She wanted them to see this photo, see that someone they know had been devastated by a school shooting. She wanted them to feel it as she typed:

“This isn’t just any child. This is MY child.”

Alexander said she felt God sending her a sign: Don’t hide. Fight for change. Create purpose from the pain.

She also felt guilty. Why hadn’t she done anything before now? She remembered the revulsion she felt at earlier mass shootings, most recently last year when a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Tex.

It all felt so far from Tennessee, so disconnected from her comfortable life with a big job, a great husband and two happy kids, living in a city that has always felt to her like the safest place in the world.

She grew up around guns, but she was more interested in Nashville’s main obsession: music. She loved grunge and Nirvana and said her first experience of grief was the 1994 suicide of lead singer Kurt Cobain, when she was a high school sophomore.

She and John met at Belmont University, a small Christian college in Nashville that reflected her Southern Baptist upbringing — church twice on Sunday and again Wednesday evening.

John, a lawyer, taught her how to shoot. He bought her a handgun for personal protection, but she said she keeps it locked away because it actually makes her feel less safe.

She believes strongly in the Second Amendment. When their son was born in 2013, they took advantage of a state program that allows parents to pay about $300 for a “Lifetime Sportsman License” for their child that exempts him from further Tennessee hunting or fishing license fees for life.

Alexander doesn’t hunt, but she appreciates that it’s part of what makes the South the South. Her family rule is that you eat what you shoot. Her son knows how to clean the ducks, pheasants and doves he shoots, and her duck gumbo is a favorite.

Since the Covenant killings she said she feels driven to take responsibility. She thinks maybe this is how it happens: Something distant hits home, and the shock turns a private person into a public warrior.

As she typed on LinkedIn, she decided she would still post about baseball games, her garden and family ski trips. But from now on, for the first time in her life, she would also become a political activist.

She said she knew it would be hard to overcome her paralyzing shyness. She had been consulting a coach for years to help her with public speaking.

She switched her social media accounts to public.

She finished typing her post:

“Please pray for our Nashville community and for those waking up with empty arms today. Let this be the last time. Demand change.”

She pressed send and stepped into a new world.

Three weeks after the shooting, Alexander and her husband stood near the state capitol steps, part of a three-mile chain of thousands of people linked arm in arm to protest gun violence. The event was sponsored by Voices for a Safer Tennessee, a large, bipartisan group formed in response to the Covenant shooting.

Alexander’s children started attending Covenant during the coronavirus pandemic. With remote learning and their busy jobs, they had met relatively few other parents. Now as they gathered, all dressed in protest red, Alexander met Sarah Shoop Neumann, another Covenant mother who has been spurred to advocacy by the shooting.

She and Neumann clicked. They decided to work with other Covenant parents, meet with legislators, speak out publicly and create a blitz of information on Instagram and other social media.

Alexander knows many Republican lawmakers are focused on school safety measures. The legislature in April approved about $140 million to hire an armed security officer in every public school and $7 million for officers in private schools. She said she thinks that’s a good idea but feels it is a way of reacting to school shootings, not preventing them.

“You still have survivors in those situations who deal with the trauma of being hunted and thinking they are going to die,” she said. “Surviving can’t be the goal.”

Police said the Covenant shooter’s parents told investigating officers that their child had been receiving medical treatment for “an emotional disorder.” Before the shooting, they worried their child “should not own weapons.” They told investigators they wrongly believed their child had sold the one gun they had.

Opponents of red-flag laws say they wouldn’t have prevented the Covenant deaths. Alexander said she believes those laws and better background checks may not stop all mass shootings, but they could stop some, which makes them worth doing.

One morning in June, Alexander, Neumann and two other Covenant mothers entered the Cordell Hull State Office Building, where legislators have their offices.

First stop: the Handgun Carry Permit Check In desk in the lobby.

A security officer explained that anyone with a permit is allowed to carry a handgun into the building, as long as it remains concealed. All permits are checked here.

The Covenant moms traded worried looks. This legislative office building is where they will come to observe and maybe testify during the special session. There could be guns all around them, and people are going to be angry. It spooked them.

The guards tried to ease their fears, telling them there would be officers inside and outside the building.

They visited the primary House hearing room. Several of them sat in the legislators’ big leather chairs. It helped to make the place seem less mystifying, less intimidating.

They walked past offices where several Democratic members displayed letters and drawings from children.

“It could have been any of us, or we could be next. Do something now!” read one letter.

Kathy Chambers, a longtime legislative policy analyst who has worked with both parties, sat the women down in a small conference room for a briefing on the legislative process and what to expect from the special session.

She said Republican legislators may sound open to change when meeting with constituents, but they will be hard to win over.

“It’s Kabuki theater,” she said. “It’s performance art.”

Alexander was still optimistic. She said the situation reminded her of Tennessee’s pivotal role in the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.

By the summer of 1920, 35 states had already voted to ratify, but 36 were needed for passage. Tennessee held a special legislative session in August — just like the one coming up — to consider an issue that deeply divided the state.

One 24-year-old state senator reversed his position at the last minute and voted to ratify — citing a letter from his mother urging him to “be a good boy” and vote yes.

With the right pressure, what had seemed impossible suddenly wasn’t.

Said Alexander: “I feel like this is one of those moments.”

As the weeks passed, Alexander was spending more and more of her time in her new public role, balancing her job, family and public advocacy.

The terror of the shooting was still haunting her. Flashes of it still came back to her out of nowhere, sometimes when she was sleeping or sometimes when she was just going about her life.

“You never know where it comes from,” she said.

She’s tormented by the what-ifs: Her son had asked his teacher whether he could go to the bathroom just before the shooting started. She told him to wait. What if he had been in the hallway? What if the cops had hesitated instead of storming in? She knew her boy had come so close.

It drove her, but it also terrified her.

The fear was everywhere, even in small things.

The starter’s pistol at her daughter’s track meet was suddenly ominous.

The family came home one night to find a car idling in their driveway. Her son was scared and made them drive past. It was just an Amazon delivery man.

She was still sleeping with her son every night. She lay awake in tears, constantly checking on his breathing like a newborn.

By late June, Alexander, Neumann and other Covenant mothers had met with more than 20 legislators, including powerful ones such as Sen. Jack Johnson, the Senate’s Republican leader, who represents the district where Alexander lives.

They felt the meetings had been reasonable and thoughtful. Most of the legislators had never heard firsthand accounts from survivors, and they seem moved by them.

Then, on June 21, country singer John Rich, a Nashville-based political activist who is organizing opposition to Lee’s extreme-risk order law, tweeted about Johnson.

He thanked the senator for “pushing back against [Lee’s] attempt at passing a red flag law in Tennessee. Thank you for being true to your word.”

Johnson responded on Twitter, “I will always stand up for our constitutional right to bear arms. Red flag laws will never have a home here in Tennessee.”

Alexander and Neumann were caught off guard by Johnson’s hard line, which Neumann said didn’t match what he had said to them in private meetings.

“Fascinating,” Neumann posted in response to the Senate leader. “Not at all the experience that Covenant parent constituents have had.”

Alexander retweeted the exchange but stopped short of calling out Johnson. She saw his comments as hurtful. But her philosophy is to encourage legislators to see her point of view with kindness and respect, not anger and antagonism.

A couple of weeks later, Johnson, who did not respond to requests for comment from The Post, gave an interview to a radio station saying he was “100 percent confident” that no red-flag law would pass in the special session.

This time, Alexander took him on. She posted a photo of her son and Johnson’s office phone number and email on Instagram. She told her 6,600 followers to “let him know that does NOT reflect the views of his constituents.”

One weekday in late July, Alexander was stuck in rush hour traffic. She hadn’t been able to sleep at all the night before thinking about the news conference where she would have to speak. She called Darius Wallace, her longtime speech coach, from the car.

“I don’t want to do this,” she told him.

He reminded her: Practice your lines. Draw out your words, especially the vowels. Enunciate. Underline the key points. And most importantly: Look up.

Traffic was crawling as she headed to two events: a prayer vigil on the capitol steps and her first-ever news conference.

Covenant families were holding 40 days of prayer leading up to the special session, praying for three or four legislators each day, asking God to help them make wise choices.

The day before, they had prayed for God to “guide and bless” Bulso, who joined them and read a Bible verse.

On the steps, Alexander struggled with her emotions as the names of the six Covenant dead were read out loud.

Immediately after, Alexander, Neumann and two other Covenant parents announced the formation of a new nonprofit: Covenant Families for Brighter Tomorrows, which will advocate for education about school shootings. About 60 Covenant families are involved in the group.

They spoke in the Cordell Hull office building news conference room, which was packed with reporters and TV cameras.

Alexander stepped to the microphone and took a breath before she said: “As a native Tennessean and gun owner I think it’s important to emphasize we are proponents of responsible gun ownership. However, I also think it’s important to intervene when there are clear signs that something is wrong.”

In an interview with the Tennessee Lookout shortly afterward, GOP state Sen. Todd Gardenhire, one of the legislators Alexander had prayed for an hour before the news conference, said: “Where were these young, rich white mothers when the Black kids in my district and Memphis were getting slaughtered? … It doesn’t mean their issues aren’t valid, but it’s a little bit hypocritical.”

In a later interview with The Post, Gardenhire, who is White, stood by those comments: “They’ve never been involved until it hits them, and now they want to change the world,” he said. “I’m not minimizing the pain and agony that they felt. But where have they been in the past?”

Gardenhire said passing legislation based on emotion was unwise, and he questioned the constitutionality of any of the proposed laws.

Gardenhire’s public comments wounded Alexander deeply. She felt they misrepresented who she is. And she felt they blamed the victims. She thought: “Why does it matter when I joined the conversation? I’m here now.”

She knew this was what happened when you stepped into the public spotlight. But she still believed that change was possible. Maybe they wouldn’t get everything they wanted in the special session. But she vowed to keep working.

She had 15 more legislator meetings scheduled in the next three weeks, starting with Bulso.

The first time Alexander met with her state representative after the shooting, it was with a group of activists. She didn’t have a chance to tell her story.

Now it was falling out of her, even the part about taking her family out to a Japanese restaurant on the night of the shooting and asking the staff to sing “Happy Birthday” to her son, even though it wasn’t, just to try to find something normal and good and fun in that awful day.

“That’s amazing,” Bulso said.

Alexander asked Bulso, who won his seat last year by more than 30 percentage points, where things stand on background checks and safe-storage legislation.

“What’s all very fascinating is the level of activism that you’ve gotten into, even though you’re going through all this pain still,” Bulso said. “We’ve been working on some very specific things, some small things.”

He pivoted to religion, telling her about a “really great saint in the Catholic church named Saint Therese of Lisieux, a French saint from the 19th century.” He said: “One of the things she was famous for saying was that you want to do small things with great love. That’s actually the way to sanctity.”

He then detailed “small things” he hoped to accomplish.

He said he wants schools to have “direct dispatch,” the ability to summon police without calling 911, similar to a bank teller pushing a panic button. Alexander nodded in agreement.

He said he favored voluntary measures, such as encouraging private gun sellers to conduct background checks on buyers by eliminating the fee officials charge for those checks. He also wants to eliminate the state sales tax on gun safes to encourage people to buy them.

He said he wants schools to have the option to allow teachers and staff with firearms training in the military or law enforcement to carry guns in school.

He asked what she thought.

“My concern is bringing more guns into school can create dangerous situations, maybe even accidents,” she said.

Alexander told Bulso that polls show more Americans, especially young people, want tighter gun laws.

“I still want to see Tennessee be Tennessee,” she said. “I love this state. It is such an incredible place to live. That’s why so many people move here from other states. But all eyes are on our leadership right now.”

Their hour together was almost over, and Bulso had a message to deliver.

“It goes back to Saint Therese of Lisieux: Just work on small things,” he said.

He explained that constituents come to him all the time asking for red flag laws and other “big things.” He said those “blatantly violate the Constitution, so I could never support those things. But other things that we’ve talked about that would be very effective, we can and should do.”

He had another idea for Alexander.

He said he hopes to introduce legislation during the special session to designate the Aitken Bible, the first Bible printed in the United States with congressional authorization, in 1782, as Tennessee’s official state book for one year.

Bulso said he wants to remind people that “our country really was founded on moral principles found in the Christian faith.”

The proposal would be “ridiculed” by some, Bulso acknowledged. But he said the root causes of American violence are “the breakdown of the family” and “moral decline,” not guns.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to get to where we want if we just try to trot out more and more gun restrictions,” he said.

He also told her he is certain that most Tennesseans oppose any gun-law tightening, no matter what the polls say or how many yard signs proclaim, “We Stand with Covenant.”

Alexander was crushed. She couldn’t disagree with what Bulso was saying about America’s social problems. But she also strongly believes that stricter gun laws are needed. She thought: At least he was honest with me. Maybe small victories will lead to bigger ones later.

“Do you want to want to say a few prayers in our chapel before you leave?” Bulso asked her.

He led her down a hallway and opened a door. Inside the small, windowless room were three wooden church pews facing a tall, ornamental panel of dark wood with a large crucifix.

They knelt side by side in the front pew. Bulso recited the Hail Mary and a prayer asking Saint Michael the Archangel to “be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.”

Then, together, they bowed their heads and said the Lord’s Prayer.

Suddenly, Alexander was overcome. The shooting, the fear for her son, the lingering trauma, the struggle against power, the heartbreaking disappointment, the mountain of hard work ahead before the special session.

The sadness of praying for change that may never come.

She broke into deep sobs, and tears ran down her cheeks.

Bulso stood and tried to comfort her.

They embraced for a long, silent minute.

This story is part of Imperfect Union, a series examining the ways Americans feel unrepresented by a political system struggling with a collision of forces both old and new.

Editing by Griff Witte. Copy editing by Tom Justice. Project editing by KC Schaper. Design and development by Courtney Beesch and Tyler Remmel. Design editing by Betty Chavarria. Photo editing by Christine T. Nguyen. Graphic by Clara Ence Morse and Hanna Zakharenko. Graphics editing by Kevin Uhrmacher. Data editing by Anu Narayanswamy. Research provided by Monika Mathur. Additional editing, production and support by Philip Rucker, Peter Wallsten and Jenna Johnson.

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