On Saturday, 20 people, shopping for groceries and back-to-school supplies, lost their lives in a hate-fueled act of white supremacy and domestic terrorism. It was just reported that two of the more than two dozen wounded in this heinous attack have also died, bringing the number of victims to 22.
And amazingly, though it’s only been 48 hours, El Paso was not our nation’s most recent mass shooting. Thirteen hours later, another nine people would be gunned down in Dayton, Ohio.
El Paso is a strong community and I know its resolve and spirit are unbreakable. We need to help our fellow Texans in El Paso as they deal with the aftermath of this terror attack. If you would like to help the victims in El Paso, visit the El Paso Community Foundation’s Shooting Victims Fund by clicking here.
Helping people in need must be our first priority. But the work cannot end there. We have to take action to put an end to mass shootings and the growing white nationalist threat in this country.
Just think: Dallas, Sutherland Springs, Santa Fe and now El Paso. Four mass shootings in Texas in three years and little has changed.
In Washington and in Austin, common-sense gun safety measures have been ignored or defeated. Harmful and hateful rhetoric coming from the White House is nearly always unchallenged by members of the president’s party. There is far too much finger-pointing and deflecting of blame. All while innocent people continue to die, needlessly.
Here in Texas, why won’t our Republican leaders act?
In large part, they are too afraid to stand up to the NRA and the Tea Party. They’re afraid to challenge the powerful gun lobby for fear of being challenged at the ballot box. Instead, they place the blame on mental health or on video games.
Yet, when the opportunity presents itself to do something meaningful to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, nothing happens.
Texas needs a Red Flag Law, a measure strongly supported by law enforcement that would help reduce the number of dangerous or unstable people who have access to firearms. In fact, after the Santa Fe massacre, Greg Abbott briefly put Red Flag Laws on the table. Unfortunately, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said he was opposed, so the governor dropped the idea and backed off.
This was a major missed opportunity due to lack of leadership. And this is but one example.
A few months ago, on his way to school, my 7-year-old godson told his mother, “I like lockdown drills because I like to hide.” What a hard thing to hear from a child. In 1st grade, he should not be preparing for mass murderers, learning to hide from weapons or living in near-constant fear when he’s in his classroom. Unfortunately, however, that has become his generation’s new normal.
We can’t allow this to continue.