El Paso and Dayton Massacres

I have heard the cry since Columbine in 1999: Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured, wounded and the families of those who were killed.  I heard the same cry after the Las Vegas, Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton massacres.

This last weekend, 31 lives were lost and four dozen were wounded in two mass shootings. One we know the El Paso shooting was a domestic terrorist attack on Latinos. We are still asking why the Dayton shooter took to extreme violence.

What seemingly got lost in the headlines was that Chicago’s Mount Sinai Hospital temporarily stopped accepting trauma patients last week Sunday because they were at capacity following a series of shootings, leaving one dead and ten wounded.

Or the young woman who was killed from a “stray bullet” fired during an argument at a Kansas City arts festival.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick claimed that bringing prayer back into public schools and eliminate video games would have stopped the mass shooting in El Paso.

Republican Ohio state Rep. Candice Keller went as far as blaming former President Obama, “fatherlessness,” video games and “drag queen advocates” in a now-deleted Facebook post concerning the shooting in Dayton.

The politicians, like acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, say it is “too soon” after the shootings to act politically. It is too soon to enact legislation that may curb the shootings, like outlawing the sale of military-style rifles to the general public or closing the gun show loopholes.

When asked if President Trump was at all to blame for using inflammatory language, Mulvaney said,

“There’s no benefit here to trying to make this a political issue. This is a social issue.”

In fact, we have heard the sentiment of thoughts and prayers, that it is too soon, it is a social issue, and versions of the other arguments after every shooting incident over the last 20-years; perhaps longer.

I can state as fact that over the last 20-years, thoughts and prayers have done nothing to stop the massacres. Neither has Congress.

Oh, I know the counter-arguments, especially the one where the person wants to be able to hunt wild boar with their AK-47 or AR-15. I know of no one who has ever hunted wild boar with a semi-automatic military-style rifle.

I do know that at least 31 were killed last weekend with such weapons.

In 2017 nearly 40,000 people died due to gun violence in the United States. To put that into perspective, 50,000 Americans were killed during the 10-year Vietnam War.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 60% of gun-related deaths were recorded as suicides and 36.6% were homicides. Intentional self-harm (suicide) is the tenth most common form of death in America.

This is not an anti-Second Amendment argument where I want to take the guns away from everyone. I am a gun owner and would fight tooth and nail for my right to own my target and self-protection pistols.

The politicians are somewhat right when they claim this is a mental health issue. But the mass shooter may seem as sane as your goofy uncle. The signs may not be evident a week earlier. The El Paso shooter’s “manifesto” was not published until some 40 minutes before the attack. He was not on anyone’s radar so no one was watching for his rants.

However, there are Second Amendment limits that must be considered by Congress. Not only should the selling of military-style rifles be banned, but we also need to close the gun-show loopholes and require universal background checks.

Congress almost must reverse the laws that prevent the CDC and other government organizations from investigating the cause of the gun violence in the United States.

There is no simple answer, but we need to do something before the next shooter kills and severely injures scores of other innocent citizens.

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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