What Just Happened?Back to Back Mass Shootings Are Our New Reality

People place flowers beside a makeshift memorial outside the Cielo Vista Mall Wal-Mart where a mass shooting left at least 20 people dead on August 4, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Photo by Zeng Jingning/China News Service/Getty Images)

Our Take

It’s a Monday in America, which means we’re once again facing down the carnage of another mass shooting. This time, though, the seemingly unending cycle of gun violence has reached a new low. There were two mass shootings in less than 24 hours: On Saturday, August 3, a gunman opened fire in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and claimed the lives of 22 people. Twelve hours later, before the victims of the El Paso shooting had even been identified, another shooter opened fire in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine people and injuring 37. As per usual, conservative politicians and pundits offered their thoughts, prayers, and condolences to the families who’d lost a parent, a child, a sibling, a cousin, and then immediately began blaming everything but America’s lax gun laws for these back-to-back tragedies: lack of religion in schools, mental-health struggles, video games, open borders, and even drag queens.

Mass shootings happen so often in the United States that they are nearly impossible to keep up with: In 2019 alone, 62 people have been killed in public places where there were at least three other victims, which qualifies the incidents as mass shootings. These shootings are so routine, in fact, that many of us barely bat an eyelash or shed a tear before we’re forced to move on to the next tragedy, the next trauma, the next mass loss of life. We don’t have to live this way. Ask New Zealanders whose prime minister banned most semi-automatic weapons after a gunman killed 50 parishioners at two mosques in Christchurch. Ask people in countries around the world that don’t live in fear of their first graders being killed at school, the one place where they should be safest.

This has to stop. Mass shootings are a problem unique to America, and there are very clear pathways to ending them. We don’t have to be afraid to go to the movies or to a concert or to school or to a house of worship or to pick up groceries for our children. Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal have introduced legislation that would allow police to seize a person’s weapons if a judge declares that they are at risk of harming themselves or others. Other politicians, like Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, are encouraging the media to call out Donald Trump for using racist rhetoric that was echoed by at least one of this weekend’s shooters. “We know what Trump is doing,” O’Rourke said. “He stokes racism. He incites violence. We shouldn’t be asking if there’s anything he can do or if he’s responsible for this when we know the answer.”

These are good first steps, but as gun violence continues to haunt us every single day, there is much more to be done to once again feel safe leaving our homes in the morning. 

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MEDIA ROUNDUP

  • A shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday morning took the lives of more than 20 people. Authorities say the shooter posted a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto shortly before the shooting took place. [CNN, Slate]

  • The El Paso shooter’s manifesto used language that’s familiar for those who’ve followed Donald Trump’s speeches. They’re both riddled with racist and white supremacist rhetoric about people of color. [New York Times]

  • Later that evening, at around 1 a.m., another mass shooting took place in Dayton, Ohio, bringing the weekend’s death toll to 31. [CNN] 

  • While police have said they found “nothing in the background” of the 24-year-old Ohio shooter that would have prevented him from purchasing the gun he used that night, high-school classmates of the gunman say he was suspended years ago for compiling a “hit list” and a “rape list.” [The Associated Press]

  • The Ohio shooter’s own sister was among the victims. [Los Angeles Times]

  • Mexico’s Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, has called for legal action against the United States after finding that seven of the victims in the El Paso shooting were Mexican citizens. [NBC News]

  • This weekend marked the third mass shooting this year that began with a hateful screed on anonymous message board, 8chan. [Washington Post]

  • Cloudflare, the web security firm that shields 8chan from cyberattacks, announced this morning that it is dropping the site. Hours later, BitMitigate, whose cybersecurity services also helped keep the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer online after Cloudflare dropped it in 2017, picked it up—only to then be shut down themselves. [NPR, Washington Post]

  • Democrats are asking for a special Congressional session to discuss passing stricter gun-control laws. [U.S. News & World Report]

  • #MassacreMitch has been trending on Twitter for more than 24 hours with people putting the brunt of the shooting on the Senate Majority Leader’s doorstep. [Newsweek]

WHAT YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW

  • Spread the message of No Notoriety, a nonprofit organization that’s dedicated to spotlighting victims instead of the ideology and motivations of mass shooters. Using the hashtag #NoNotoriety is one direct way to support their mission. [No Notoriety]

  • Support Moms Demand Action, a grassroots network founded by Shannon Watts to pass common-sense gun-reform measures. [Moms Demand Action] 

  • Join Everytown USA’s Gun Sense Network Team, a group of dedicated volunteers who spend an hour each week making phone calls to voters and other potential volunteers. [Everytown USA]

  • Contact your local Congressional leaders to learn more about their stance about gun-control reform. [HuffPost]

There’s more…

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