Mass shootings have become a part of American reality.
The assassination attempt on Gabrielle Giffords, the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, the massacre at Sandy Hook, the 2014 Fort Hood shooting, the Charleston Church shooting, the Umpqua Community College shooting, the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting, the 2015 San Bernadino attack, the 2016 Uber shootings in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the Pulse nightclub shooting, the 2016 Dallas police shooting, the 2017 Congressional baseball shooting, the 2017 Las Vegas concert shooting, the 2017 Sutherland Springs church shooting, the Parkland shooting, the YouTube headquarters shooting, the Nashville Waffle House shooting, the Capital Gazette shooting, the Pittsburg synagogue shooting, the Thousand Oaks shooting, the Poway synagogue shooting, the 2019 UNCC shooting, the Gilroy Garlic festival shooting, and most recently, the El Paso Walmart shooting and the Dayton, Ohio shooting.
These are just the ones that I remember off the top of my head. These shootings are the events that have defined American fear for the past two decades. They are the reason my generation grew up doing active shooter drills, cowering in the corners of classrooms. They are the reason why millions walked out of classrooms and took to the streets in the March For Our Lives Movement, begging for our government to do something, anything, to stop the mass murder of Americans.
They also showcase the greatest failure of our government: not taking action to stop the gun violence epidemic in America.
Congress has failed the American people by not passing gun control legislation in the past decade.
The shooting in Dayton, Ohio was the 251st mass shooting this year alone. It also marks the 2,189th shooting since a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, killing 27 people, including himself. The only remarkable change on the federal level since Sandy Hook was the decision to ban the sale and use of bump stocks. Congress is still yet to pass basic gun reform laws, including one requiring universal background checks, a move polls indicate would have the approval of 92% of Americans. The House passed a bill this year, H.R. 8, which would require background checks on all gun sales.
Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has not allowed the bill to come to the Senate floor for a vote yet.
A common thread links many mass shootings.
Make no mistake that these shootings are acts of domestic terrorism and recognize that most of the perpetrators of these attacks are white men, many of whom are self-proclaimed white supremacists. The people committing these crimes are home-grown terrorists, radicalized by the dark web and emboldened by the racist rhetoric of many American leaders, including our own president. After the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which the president referred to people marching with white supremacists and anti-semites as "very fine people," it became clear that he had his own qualms about completely rebuking white supremacists. That statement, along with many other racially charged incidents, has caused white supremacists to put this President on a pedestal as his rhetoric emboldens their darkest thoughts.
White supremacists are an increasingly dangerous threat.
In the case of the El Paso shooter, he published a manifesto on white supremacist hub 8chan just minutes before the attack began, praising the Christchurch shooter who killed fifty people in two mosques in New Zealand, criticizing the demographic changes in Texas, and calling for ethnic cleansing to curb the effects of climate change and create a racially homogeneous state. It is no mistake that he targeted the Walmart in El Paso, a store that is consistently one of the busiest Walmarts in the entire country and is patronized by a largely Hispanic population, including many Mexicans who make the trip across the border to El Paso every single day. The manifesto is a troubling display of the close relationship between white supremacy and eco-fascism, and also a reminder of the threat posed by platforms like 8chan that facilitate the radicalization of mostly young, white, men.
There have been at least nine mass shooters in America in the past two years who had ties to white extremism.
There needs to be a national conversation around the actual causes of mass shootings.
In the days since the attacks in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Republicans have blamed the tragedies on the prevalence of violent video games and scapegoated mentally ill people. Instead of focusing on the real, underlying causes of mass shootings, these excuses have been broadcast to the American public. It is time for a real conversation about guns in America, where they outnumber people 1.205:1.
More guns equal more deaths, simple as that.
If we want to stop mass shootings, we have to stop allowing weapons of war to get into the hands of potential domestic terrorists. We also have to stop electing leaders whose words are echoed by the very perpetrators of those acts of domestic terrorism and start electing leaders who are not afraid to challenge the gun lobby in order to protect the lives of the people they serve.
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke called President Donald Trump a racist and said his words can be connected to a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, that left at least 20 people dead and more than two dozen injured.
Gun violence is a very real threat to the lives of Americans, and it's time that mass shootings are treated as acts of domestic terrorism.