I was on vacation in the Texas panhandle when our nation experienced two mass shootings in two very different parts of the country.
- Two shootings: At least 31 people were killed over the weekend in mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.
- El Paso: 22 people were killed in El Paso after a mass shooting on Saturday. Police said they found an anti-immigrant document espousing white nationalist and racist views, which they believe was written by the suspect. He may face hate crime charges in addition to capital murder charges.
- Dayton: Another nine people were killed in a shooting in the Oregon District of Dayton, Ohio. The suspect in that shooting is dead.
Meanwhile, Studly Doright and I were involved in family fun at a reunion–grandkid watching, overeating, swimming, laughing, hugging, playing, storytelling. As news of the shootings came through we absorbed the generalities and continued with our event. My heart was heavy, but there was nothing any of us could do at that time except love our own families and watch over each other. Now that I’m home, I have time to process the information, and I’m furious.
As with every mass shooting in this country, politicians offer thoughts and prayers, yet nothing meaningful gets done to prevent the next shooting, or the one after that. In many ways it seems that some members of our current administration have encouraged such violence.
In May of this year, at a political rally, the current POTUS asked the Florida audience how to stop migrants from entering the country.
“How do you stop these people? You can’t, there’s,”–Trump paused as an attendee shouted, “Shoot them!”
Trump smirked and said, “That’s only in the panhandle you can get away with that statement.” The crowd cheered wildly for 10 seconds before Trump continued his speech.
I live in the Florida panhandle. That kind of talk is not acceptable even here, but our Divider-in-Chief encourages it and applauds it. He has set the tone, and it is one of violence and hatred of those who are not white “Christians”.
Now, in the wake of the shootings, many Republicans are scrambling to cover all of their familiar talking points.
1) Blame the video games! As if kids in the U.S. are the only ones who play violent video games.
2) Blame mental illness! So only the U.S. has a population suffering from some form of mental illness? And while mental illness might play a role in these heinous acts, in 2017 trump rolled back an Obama-era regulation that made it more difficult for people with mental illness to purchase guns. Yes, trump green lighted gun ownership for those who might be prone to violence.
3) Blame gays! A few crazy people believe that homosexuality is to blame for our gun violence problem. Of course these people also believe homosexuality causes earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
4) It’s not the gun’s fault! Well, maybe guns don’t kill people, people kill people, but easy access to guns sure makes it easier for them to do so.
5) It’s because we can’t pray in school! Seriously? God, as I understand it, is omnipresent. I’m not sure any of us can keep such a deity out of any location. And, as the old saying goes, as long as there are tests, there’ll be prayer in school.
5) If someone wants to kill, they’ll find some other way if guns aren’t available. Again, guns are way too easy to attain in this country. Bombs? Not so much. Knives? Easy to come by, but it’s difficult to achieve the body count that guns provide. And let’s face it, it’s a huge body count these killers (overwhelmingly white and male) are aiming for. Plus, killing with a knife is up close work. These mass shooters don’t want to dirty their hands, and a gun allows them to kill indiscriminately from a distance. It’s an impersonal act that reaps huge results.
The GOP is now urging us to come together, but most Republican congressmen and women aren’t willing to jeopardize their good standing with the National Rifle Association by enacting meaningful gun control legislation. It’s difficult to “come together” with people who are okay with gun violence as long as the NRA is lining their pockets.
I am a gun owner. I enjoy occasionally taking target practice. No one is coming for all of our guns, but there must be change. We are the only first world country that has mass shootings on an almost weekly basis.