In the span of 24 hours, two mass shootings left 29 dead and 53 injured.
On Saturday morning, a gunman entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas where 20 people died and 26 left injured. Officers took the suspect, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, into custody shortly after. Current charges include capital murder and domestic terrorism. They are also holding Crusius without bond.
Only minutes before gunning down his victims, with an AK-47-style assault rifle and extra magazines, Crusius posted an anti-immigrant screed to controversial site 8chan in which he harangued against immigrants in Texas and preserving European identity in the US. Though deleted from 8chan’s forums, forum users archived the post which included a link to a PDF file. Initial attempts to upload the piece were unsuccessful, finally posting at 10:13am. 27 minutes later, the first emergency calls reached 911, at 10:39am. Officials have not yet released a complete list of victims. However, Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard listed several Mexican nationalists as dead. El Paso’s population includes over 80% Hispanic or Latino people. Furthermore, the gunman chose a location that many Hispanic/Latino people frequently visit.
Authorities therefore feel that Crusius planned this shooting well in advance, even if he didn’t know the faces of those who died.
Then, early Sunday morning, Connor Betts, 24, entered Ned Peppers, a popular bar in Dayton, Ohio. Equipped with armor, an assault-style rifle, and ammunition magazines, Betts killed 9 people (including his own sister), injured 27 more, and died on scene.
Once you add the shooting on July 27th at the Brooklyn Oldtimers’ Day Festival and July 28th at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, that totals 4 mass murders in one week!
There’s been a total of 251 mass shootings in the US so far this year. That totals 1.16 mass shootings per day! Motives for these heinous crimes, victims, and victimology vary, but we can all agree on one thing: one mass shooting is one too many.
What are we doing to curb this violence?
I’m sorry, but thoughts and prayers don’t stop bullets from slaughtering children in schools or back to school shoppers in Walmart. Over 100 people died in school shootings alone in 2018, so you can now buy bullet-proof backpacks! It is beyond fucked up that a kindergartener might need a Kevlar Paw Patrol backpack.
Republican lawmakers blamed video games, but Democrats point to a president that many consider racist. The issue is that there’s no one singular cause for these disgusting acts. It’s a variety of factors that cause the perfect storm. We’re under a president that makes does make openly racist remarks which embolden white supremacists. Denying the plain truth of it serves no one. Telling Congress members that are women of color to essentially “go back where you came from,” does not lend itself to the spirit of racial equality. That said, most Trump supporters are not racist. Most simply vote on the Republican ticket and he happened to get the nomination.
In the coming days, we’ll learn more about the shooters, how they purchased their weapons, and why innocent people died at their hands.
Once again, the media will show us how easily you can legally purchase an assault rifle. We’ll learn the shooters suffered from social issues again. And once again, we’ll learn they clung to ideologies designed to validate their existence while eliminating others.
This is a broken record. We can’t be afraid to have the necessary conversation. We must be bold. Common sense gun reform must occur. There hasn’t been an update to gun laws in 25 years. If you’re truly pro-life, you must recognize this deadly epidemic and fight to save these lives, too. Mental health must coincide with physical health. We need to depoliticize this and come together for our future. Too many people died for us to stand without making changes.
Yes, gun ownership is an American right, but so is “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We deserve the opportunity to live.
Feature Image by The El Paso Times on Instagram