One shudders to think of combining a gun society, where it is easy to get guns, and open racism.
There was a random mass shooting this weekend involving customers at a retail store in El Paso, Texas. Some 22 people died.
The suspect is a 21-year-old white man who had posted a manifesto online decrying Hispanic immigrants from Central and South America, and supporting the mass shooting of Muslims in New Zealand last March.
The authorities are investigating the El Paso shooting as a hate crime due to the suspect’s anti-immigrant sentiments.
The Democratic congresswoman for El Paso described America’s pathology this way: “In this country we have a gun violence epidemic but we also have a hate epidemic.”
According to a nongovernmental organization that analyzes gun incidents, there have already been 251 mass shootings in America this year with more than 8,700 fatalities.
A different research institution reports that the number of hate crimes in 30 cities across America reached 2,009 last year, and has increased for five years in a row.
The peculiarity of mass shootings occurring as an outlet for hatred reflects the deep roots of a gun society and of racism in America.
Only a little more than 10 hours after the El Paso incident, there was a mass shooting on the streets in the Midwestern state of Ohio, and nine people were killed.
While the motive in this case is unclear, both incidents involved a small automatic firearm capable of serious firepower. These guns were created for use in battlefields to kill a large number of people in a short span of time. There is no excuse for letting these weapons loose on the streets.
President Donald Trump has called for comprehensive background checks of things like criminal and medical history. But to eradicate mass shootings, it is imperative to outlaw the sale of small automatic weapons. New Zealand swiftly outlawed the sale of these firearms after the mass shooting there.
Trump said, “Our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” but it’s hard to deny that his words and actions vilifying immigrants and people of color also promote hate.
After the El Paso incident, the message board where the suspect posted his manifesto was criticized as having amplified such hate and was forced to close.
The U.S. Constitution protects its citizens’ right to own guns. At the same time, one cannot overlook the responsibility that comes with this right.