Hopefully, we may have gone beyond grief in dealing with mass shootings. As deaths and injuries mounted the past two weeks in another resurgence of mass shootings and domestic terrorism, officials in Washington D.C. have finally woken to the reality that grief will not stop the two hands of evil — guns and racial hatred.
The House of Representatives on May 18 passed legislation that would bolster federal resources to fight domestic terrorism in the wake of the brutal Buffalo shooting by an 18-year-old Peyton Grenton, indoctrinated in the false belief that Whites are superior to other races and in the “replacement theory” that alleges white people and their influence are being intentionally “replaced” by people of color through immigration and higher birth rates.
The bill, called the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, was filed in 2017 but gained dust in Congress’ archives in the face of massive lobbies from the extremist members of the Republican Party. It would require each agency to open offices specifically dedicated to intelligence-sharing among the Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the FBI so that officials can better track and respond to the growing threat of white extremist terrorism. It would also create an interagency task force to combat the infiltration of white supremacy in the military.
The move came after 10 people, all of them Black, were killed and three were injured, one of them Black, in a gun attack by Payton Gendron, who drove for three hours to a predominantly Black neighborhood and mowed people down inside and outside a food market with a modified assault rifle while livestreaming the horrific act with a camera on his helmet.
Gendron had earlier posted several writings in social media echoing what many previous mass shooters have said – that White people are being replaced by Blacks and Latinos in several areas in the United States.
The Buffalo attack was followed during that horrifying week by mass shootings in Texas, Orange County in California, Chicago and San Bernardino.
After every mass shooting, politicians express their grief and condemn the perpetrators of these dastardly crimes, but stop short of imposing gun controls and other measures to prevent a repeat of these extreme expressions of racial hatred.
It is no coincidence that many of the most deadly mass shootings in America occurred during the term of President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly refused to condemn and, in fact, implicitly condoned extremist views and white supremacy conspiracy theories.
Here are some of the deadliest mass shootings since 2017: the Route 91 Harvest music festival, Las Vegas, October 2, 2017: 60 killed, more than 850 injured; First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas, November 2017: 26 killed and 20 injured; Walmart, El Paso, Texas, August 3, 2019: 23 killed, 26 injured; Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Fla., February 2018: 17 killed; the Borderline Bar & Grill, Thousand Oaks, Calif., November 2018: 12 killed, several wounded; and Virginia Beach Municipal Center, Virginia Beach, Va., May 31, 2019: 12 killed.
While President Donald Trump called the Las Vegas attack “an act of pure evil,” yet never in his relatively lengthy speech did he mention anything about what the government must do to prevent another carnage, nor show concern about the increasingly rampant gun violence.
We were, of course, not surprised that he ignored the fact that it came just 20 months after the previously deadliest mass shooting in the US – the night club shooting in Orlando, Florida that left 49 people dead – and just a few months after a 26-year-old gunman shot to death nine students and teachers and wounded 20 others at a community college in Rosburg, Oregon, and after 14 people were killed and 20 injured in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.
In 2019, a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center showed that two-thirds of terrorist attacks in the US are carried out by far-right individuals and groups, and that most far-right violence is linked to white supremacy.
For years, the federal government has repeatedly warned that white supremacist violence is a growing problem nationally. And yet, nothing has gone beyond expressions of grief after every mass shooting. In 2020, House Democrats passed a similar bill to stop mass shootings through gun control, only to be stalled in the Senate mostly due to the lobby by the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA). Realizing the difficulty of passing gun control measures in the evenly divided Senate, proponents decided to turn their focus to a broader federal focus on domestic terrorism.
Will the measure passed by the House last week finally move in the Senate? Will the recent spate of racially mass shootings finally move senators to defy the pro-gun lobby and pass the bill against domestic terrorism?
Hopefully, with the recent mass shootings, Congress and state legislatures will do something to enact stricter gun control measures. Pro-gun advocates hide behind the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment was introduced in 1791, when guns probably couldn’t even kill a deer from a distance, and civilian militias were needed to protect the people from insurgents and bandits. Now we have police forces in every city and militias are no longer needed. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has upheld the Second Amendment twice.
Unless the US Constitution is amended, which is unlikely, all that lawmakers can do is institute stricter gun controls that would not run counter to that dreadful Second Amendment.
Guns are the hands of evil. In the hands of criminals and extremists, their only purpose is to maim and kill.
President Trump was right. The Las Vegas attack, just like the other previous mass shootings, was an act of pure evil. President Biden was also right when he said white supremacy is “poison.” But grief and words alone won’t stop these two hands of evil. Only concrete action will. The senators need to realize this.