When I previously said that mass shootings seemed to become the norm in American society, I was wrong. They haven't seemed to be the norm. They have. Lately, it's easy to brush off the latest massacre that dominates the headlines. All until it hits close to home.
Just before Thanksgiving, on November 19, 2018, a gunman opened fire at Mercy Hospital on Chicago's South Side, killing 3 people. A police officer, doctor, and pharmacy assistant whose lives have been cut short, serving the city of Chicago, doing their jobs. All three individuals seemed to be great people. Officer Samuel Jimenez hailed from my native Edison Park neighborhood in Chicago. Dr. Tamara O'Neal became a doctor to save the lives of those on the South Side. Dayna Less was a pharmacist that just graduated from Purdue in May.
But what makes the incident at Mercy stand out from other shootings is that the gunman was the ex-fiance of O'Neal. Before pulling the trigger, Juan Lopez confronted O'Neal in the parking lot demanding the engagement ring back. Lopez had a history of violence against women, and was discharged from the Chicago Fire Department academy for being too aggressive.
And thus, the incident at Mercy Hospital should be a call for a better investment in mental health and domestic violence resources, plus expanding the narrative on undoing toxic masculinity.
Mercy has been the first shooting in recent months that has explicitly shown the dangers of saying "no" in abusive relationships. We often ask, "If it's so abusive and toxic, then why don't they just leave?" This incident tells us why, and obligates us to do what we can do to have more candid conversations when it comes to domestic violence.
But yet, Juan Lopez isn't the first mass assailant to have abusive tendencies. Take Elliot Rodger, who in 2014 killed 6 people in California because he thought he was deprived of his supposed right to have sex. Omar Mateen, the shooter of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, had a history of abusing his ex-wife and reportedly had a vendetta against the LGBTQ community out of fear he had HIV. More recently, two women were killed in a yoga studio by a man, Scott Beierle, who had a long digital footprint of misogyny and racism.
And thus, it leaves the question: how does this conversation fit in the scope of gun violence? Well, for one federal law only prohibits domestic offenders against spouses from owning a gun. This regulation should extend to relationships outside of marriage. More can also be done as to regulate the sales of firearms by unlicensed vendors, also known as the "gun show loophole". States can also take initiative and implement similar federal regulations too.
But to the point of this article, it's also important to know that policy alone cannot stop social behaviors. The dialogue must be expanded to the younger generations to check the toxic masculinity that caused the Mercy shooting and the massacres before it. Officer Jimenez, Dr. O'Neal, and Ms. Less did not go to work today thinking they would die. If we keep ignoring the underlying causes of gun violence beyond the issue of guns, then we leave ourselves vulnerable to more unpredictable massacres.