Dayton and El Paso Pull the Trigger on America’s Gun Control

Jaeeun Park, Staff Writer

   What were you doing the morning of Aug. 3? Sleeping in on a warm Saturday morning, walking your dog or out at brunch? For some people in El Paso, Texas, the time was spent hiding in the fluorescent aisles of Wal-Mart, while an active gunman with a twisted agenda roamed the premises. 

   About 13 hours later, on Aug. 4, the same was happening in the town of Dayton, Ohio. Another part of the nation’s population fled from a drunk, high extremist with a firearm in hand. Nine more innocent lives were taken and families were ripped apart, the living left to grieve for the loss of their loved ones.

   Yet the headlines that day and the weeks following were not particularly urgent, not at all desperate or loud enough to convey the magnitude of what tragedies had taken place: 31 innocent, untimely deaths as a result of America’s lax gun control laws and racist, toxic beliefs that still plague the masses. Even after decades of debating the NRA and government about the risks of these questionable legislations, nothing has changed in that time, and more discriminatory convictions have arisen.  

   There have been approximately 28 deadly mass shootings with more than 10 fatalities since 1949 in the span of 70 years, not taking into account other incidents with less victims and still huge impacts.

   What has our country come to for mass shootings to not be considered out of the ordinary?

   At 10:39 AM in the city of El Paso, Patrick Wood Crusius, a 21-year-old male, opened fire outside of a Wal-Mart with an AK-47, ultimately killing 22 and injuring 24. Crusius claims to have targeted Latinos in El Paso, specifically driving 11 hours from his home in Allen to avoid suspicion and having a higher success rate to fulfill his delusion of “stopping a Hispanic Texas” from forming. 

   83 percent of El Paso’s residents are Hispanic/Latino, and contemporary immigrants comprise about 14 percent of the United States population. America’s people are known for being a melting pot of culture, which defines this country of opportunity. This mass shooting has been said to be one of the ten deadliest in modern U.S. history. 

   Only 13 hours after the mass shooting, 1,600 miles away 24-year-old Connor Stephen Betts shot and killed nine people, including his own sister, and injured 27 others using an AR-15 in a popular area called the Oregon District before being taken down by responding police officers.  Betts was found to have had cocaine, alcohol, and Xanax in his system at the time of this tragedy. 

   An open gun enthusiast, Betts frequently posted extreme, misogynistic tweets on his social media, liking posts related to the previous El Paso tragedy. The parents of the killer wrote a flattering, ignorant obituary for the man, evoking controversy for its omission of Betts’ deeds, being thought extremely insensitive by many.

   He was described as funny, kind and intelligent on the memoir soon taken down from the funeral home website. In high school, Betts was known to have a hit list for those he didn’t like, and a rape list of girls who had turned his advances down. All of his school records were sealed, however, and slow to open, with school officials even hesitating after he had taken the lives of innocent people. 

   These cases bring us to the inevitable question: Why does the U.S. government allow for civilians to own high-capacity semi-automatic arms? 27 of the 28 deadliest modern mass shootings were carried out using guns of this type. All 27 have sparked fires of unrest in the nation, ruined lives, and caused so much bloodshed. Yet there are still people who, despite the statistics, refuse to accept the dangers to control high capacity arms for their recreation and self-satisfaction.

   For those who use the Constitution as backing for their beliefs, the Founding Fathers lived in the 18th century with antiquated ideology and crude engineering. They thought of pistols or perhaps muskets as the limits of weapons man could harness. What couldn’t be foreseen was the high-tech assault rifles present in modern day. 

   President Trump’s ideas to keep religions or immigrants controlled at the border are also absurd. These beliefs only encourage the depraved minds of the few that blame specific parties for the problems caused by the whole of the United States. What the encouragement leads to is more slaughter, that makes the President, the shooters, and those with similar thoughts no better than Adolf Hitler, an international pariah remembered for his revolting crimes against humanity. 

   Mass shootings in the United States are largely instigated by Caucasian, American-born males, not immigrants or Muslims. Other so-called “measures” like pre-scanning for psychopathic tendencies or suspicious behavior will not work because the law does not allow for its officials to arrest people on intuition alone. As probable cause can only push our legal system so far, we cannot incarcerate gunmen until after they have committed their gruesome crimes, after people have been shot dead, after America is grieving for the victims.

High capacity weapons are not necessary for recreational hunting or aim practice. We need to stop handling civilians tools for mass murder.

   President Trump released a public statement on the Monday following the deadly weekend. He believed that the Internet, providing a space for the encouragement of toxic beliefs, was mostly to blame, as well as the racist hate prevalent in society. 

   The speech can be simplified into four main points: First, the government should identify and act on early warning signs of possible violence. Eric Harris, one of the Columbine school shooters had 15 run-ins with the law, some for death threats against people, that were overlooked and filed away. These “red flags” did not save the lives of his 13 victims. 

   Second, the country needs to stop glorifying violence in culture, especially video games. This is a point I can heartily agree with. There are many other outlets for stress or focus that do not have to involve carnage. 

   Third, reform America’s mental health laws to treat people who have troubled thoughts. Trump is quoted to have said, “Mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun.” However if there is no gun in the first place, there is no “trigger” to pull. 

   Fourth, make sure that those judged to be a menace to public society do not have access to firearms. Most of the problems addressed by the President could be easily prevented by complete restrictions of extreme weapons. This speech was judged by many as hypocritical, with prominent politicians blaming the man himself for adding fuel to the fire with his normally racist, bigoted beliefs.

   The issue of mass shooting and gun control has been a stain in the history of our country for far too long. Freedom is important, but only if the lives of the people for whom it’s for are ensured.


Condolences to the families of: Monica E. Brickhouse, Nicholas P. Cumer, Derrick R. Fudge, Thomas J. McNichols Sr., Lois L. Oglesby, Saeed S. Edris, Logan M. Turner, Beatrice N. Warren-Curtis, Megan Betts, Jordan Anchondo, Andre Anchondo, Arturo Benavides, Jorge Calvillo Garcia, Leo Campos, Maribel Hernandez, Adolfo Cerros Hernandez, Sara Esther Regalado, Angelina Engelisbee, Raul Flores, Maria Flores, Alexander Gerhard Hoffmann, David Johnson, Luis Juarez, Maria Eugenia Legarreta, Ivan Filiberto Manzano, Gloria Irma Marquez, Elsa Mendoza, Margie Reckard, Javier Amir Rodriguez, Teresa Sanchez and Juan de Dios Velasquez.