Evidence that racism was the motive behind last weekend’s shooting at an El Paso Walmart is mounting. Investigators say the 21-year-old Allen man suspected of killing 20 people on site and injuring dozens of others told them he entered the store with an AK-47 assault rifle and multiple magazines, and that he was targeting Mexicans.
The mass shooting, and another just hours later in Dayton, Ohio, claimed more than 30 lives and shattered any illusion of public safety. The killings also reignited a national conversation about gun rights and gun control in America.
Many politicians have reliably turned to pointing fingers, a move that does little to solve the issue but a lot to fuel the nation’s political polarization. However, others, like President Donald Trump, are calling for “something meaningful” to get done.
You can argue until you’re blue in the face what “something meaningful” would be, but regardless of your stance in the debate, can we all acknowledge the status quo is not working? It wasn’t working when a shooter took the lives of 26 people at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs in November 2017. It wasn’t working in May 2018 when a shooter killed eight Sante Fe ISD students and two teachers. And it wasn’t working last weekend in El Paso.
New gun laws passed this year and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott will on Sept. 1 ease restrictions on where firearms can be carried, from schools to churches, apartments and foster homes, and bar cities from passing their own gun and ammunition sales limits. Only time will tell if this is the right answer.
Another piece of common ground despite the polarization is the renewed focus on the role of mental health in these shootings. We must find a constitutional way of, as Abbott phrased it, keeping guns away from “deranged killers.”
The governor on Wednesday said he will hold another series of roundtable discussions to consider legislative proposals to address the gun violence.
“We need new and different strategies that go above and beyond what we did in the aftermath of dealing with shootings that took place at the school in Santa Fe,” Abbott said.
Finding a solution will not be easy. But we must be committed to it, and we must be ready to listen to voices on all sides of the debate because, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “What we can’t do is fail to pass something.”