EDITORIAL: What will it take to end gun violence?


Mark Lambie | The El Paso Times via AP


What will it take? There were two mass shootings in less than 24 hours this past weekend, and one of them is in the top 10 deadliest in United States history. Gun violence is a scary reality of our country, and we desperately need it to end. 

There have been so many (too many) mass shootings this year alone in our country that it is hard to keep track. Simply put, the American people are not safe. Especially people of color, as demonstrated by the El Paso shooting. A white supremacist drove more than 600 miles to a place with a high Hispanic population and opened fire on innocents, including babies and children. 

It’s time to call it like it is. There are white supremacists among us, and they are a danger to us all. They are fueled by hatred, and they are empowered by comments from our president and others in roles of leadership; they take these comments to the extreme, twisting them to fit their ideologies. This is certainly the case of the El Paso shooter, who wrote and published a white nationalist manifesto online the day of the massacre. Social media posts have emerged from this gunman showing the word “Trump” spelled out using guns, including military grade assault weapons.

Public spaces no longer feel safe. And the “good guy with a gun” theory hasn’t helped us yet, even in Texas, one of the most gun-friendly states. Brave police officers stepped in during both shootings, yet they took the El Paso killer in alive and without harm. Can they say the same for many people of color who are attacked every day by police, even when they haven’t just shot 10 people? Even when they are innocent? They are hardly ever taken in without harm or incident. It is this behavior and unfair treatment of people of color that could be dangerously heightened by white nationalists. 

The mass shooting in Dayton, though not involving a white supremacist, is still just as scary. There are many theories about mental health being involved, but mental illness cannot be a scapegoat to explain every case of gun violence. Evil people without mental illnesses exist, and they may not always need a reason to harm others. These weapons are too easy for them to purchase, modify and use as a means to spread destruction, instead of promoting safety and security as originally intended. 

The first step to fixing this crisis is having responsible gun owners speak up. This is not a political issue; the right and left cannot be divided over the murder of innocent people. If they are, then our country is ruined. We need action, not social media condolence posts or the constant media obsession with the methods and reasons of these killers. The more we focus on the killers themselves, the more we are spreading their messages of hate. We need to love one another, and we need to protect each other. 

What will it take, indeed? Gun reform, legislation, increased background checks, heightened security…it seems none of these will happen until every person in our government is directly affected by a deadly mass shooting. It seems they have all happened far enough away from Washington to let them fade from lawmakers’ memories. They offer their thoughts and their prayers until something more important to them comes along, and the victims and the causes worth fighting for are once again forgotten. 

We are not proposing any solutions or plans in this editorial. We are simply taking the time to reflect, to get our thoughts out during this heartbreaking time. America has become too numb to these shootings, especially those that have happened far enough away from us as well. Some of us dismiss them as easily as any other non-serious news story. But the surviving victims and the families of those who have not survived will never forget; their pain will never be numbed. 

Churches, schools, universities, shopping centers, nightclubs, concerts, newsrooms. Where else until something changes?