People around the country shared the devastation and anguish this past weekend after two separate mass shootings took the lives of 31 people – 22 in El Paso, Texas, last Saturday and nine in Dayton, Ohio early Sunday morning.
To date, 24 were injured in El Paso and 27 in Dayton.
The 21-year-old suspect in the daytime Texas murders at a shopping center turned himself into authorities and has been charged with capital murder. He could face federal firearm and hate crime charges based on an online document authorities discovered that they believe is linked to the suspect espousing anti-immigrant and white nationalist views.
In Dayton, police miraculously took down and killed that shooter in 30 seconds. Investigators said the killer was exploring violent ideologies.
Just a week before, a 19-year-old gunman killed three people and injured 13 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California. Authorities found a target list of religious institutions, political groups and government buildings and thus are moving forward with a domestic terrorism investigation.
So far this year, 112 people have been killed in mass shootings around the U.S. Nearly every state has seen this type of tragedy, life lost for no apparent reason. Beyond the three latest shootings, the deadliest in the U.S. include 58 killed at the Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas in 2017, 49 murdered at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, 32 at Virginia Tech in 2007, 27 at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, 25 at Texas Sutherland Springs Church in 2017, 17 at Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 and 11 at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018.
With the escalating rate of mass shootings in the country in recent years, we as a nation are almost becoming desensitized to these tragedies. It’s not that we don’t feel grief or sorrow or even fear. We do. But are we shocked and outraged enough to demand action by lawmakers?
Gunmen in the last three mass shootings, like others before them, used semi-automatic guns – weapons of war – to spray bullets into a crowd. In Gilroy, police found a 75-round drum magazine and five 40-round magazines at the scene. In Dayton, the shooter used a .223 caliber high capacity rifle with a 100-round drum magazine. All these weapons were purchased legally.
So it’s no wonder that crowds in Dayton chanted, “Do something.”
In response to this call for action, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine proposed adopting a version of a “red flag” law which would allow authorities to take firearms from a person deemed dangerous by a court. He also plans to ask the General Assembly to pass laws including one requiring background checks for all firearm sales in Ohio, with a few exceptions. The proposals are a start, but with legislative leaders pushing to remove all concealed carry gun restrictions, we are skeptical that the governor’s plan will gain traction. We look to him for strong leadership and to push for these gun law changes as a starting point. Let’s all get behind the residents of Dayton when they urge politicians to “Do something.” Enough is enough.