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2019: A summer of mass shootings

This past summer has seen a new wave of mass shootings leading many to push for gun control laws and many others to question our safety in the modern era.

 On Aug. 3, next to Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, Texas, a gunman started shooting in a Walmart parking lot, continuing into the inside of the store. According to CNN, 20 people were killed, including three Mexican nationals. Authorities suspect that the shooter was Patrick W. Crusius a white 21-year-old man. Because the shooter only targeted those of Hispanic (LatinX and Mexican) descent, authorities were led to suspect that it was a hate crime. It is also being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism.

 President Trump tweeted that he was “Working with State and Local authorities, and Law Enforcement. Spoke to Governor to pledge total support of Federal Government. God be with you all.” However, not everyone felt that he was being sincere.

 On Aug.5, presidential candidate Beto O’ Rourke of El Paso tweeted “This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible should not come to El Paso. We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here.” 

 Even with all the division, stories about heroes have emerged. Muhammad Lila, an international correspondent for ABC News tweeted about a hero named Glen Oakley stating “He was in the Foot Locker when the El Paso shooting happened. When he ran to leave, he saw kids in the mall without their parents, scared and alone. So he picked up as many as he could and carried them to safety.”

 In response to the shooting, on Aug. 3, Texas Governor Wayne Abbott held a roundtable discussion to discuss possible next steps. Some wanted stricter gun laws and background checks while others clung to their Second Amendment rights, advocating instead for better mental health care.

 Some, however, are willing to compromise. Kyaw Htet, a sophomore majoring in psychology and interaction design said “My opinion is that the government should do the heavy background check on all gun sales and better screening on mental health by giving them a psychology exam to make sure that they are in a right state of mind to buy a gun without harming themselves and/or others.”

 Another shooting occurred on Aug. 4, the next day in Dayton, Ohio.  According to Dayton Police, the suspect was Connor Betts, a 24-year-old white man.  Armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and a 100-round drum, he was able to kill nine people and wound 27 others before being killed by Dayton Police officers reports Time. One of the victims was his own sister, Megan. 11 people remain hospitalized.

 Reports show that the shooter in question had very disturbing ideas about violence including an extreme interest in guns and mass shootings. Yet, authorities don’t see any racial or political motive for the shooting. CNN was told by a friend of Betts who had known him for over a decade, that he owned three or four guns, including an AR-15 pistol and another pistol.

 In response, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, a candidate for the Democratic nominee, encouraged citizens to donate to The Dayton Oregon District Fund to assist families and victims affected by the shooting reports Time. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) a frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic nomination tweeted that “We’re waking up to the second mass shooting in as many days. I’m heartsick for the 29 people killed this weekend in El Paso and Dayton- and all the other lives we lose every day due to senseless gun violence. We need to take urgent action to end the gun epidemic.” President Trump chimed in tweeting “God bless the people of El Paso, Texas. God bless the people of Dayton, Ohio”.

 On Aug. 31, another shooting occurred in Odessa, Texas which killed seven and wounded 22 others. According to CNN, the shooter was identified as Seth Ator, 36. The shooting occurred when Texas troopers pulled him over for failing to use his signal in Midland on Saturday afternoon. He then shot at them and as he sped away, spraying bullets randomly at residents and motorists. He then hijacked a postal truck and ditched his gold Honda, shooting at people as he made his way into Odessa about 20 miles away. Police were able to kill him in a shootout.

 Interestingly, NPR reports that hours before the shooting, eight new gun laws took effect in Texas which permit firearms to be carried in places of worship during disasters and in rented and leased properties.

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