Addressing the Hate Driving Deadly Acts of Gun Violence

Sophia Chau, Staff Writer

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There have been almost 300 mass shootings in the United States in 2019 thus far; that’s more than 1 shooting per day. Odessa, El Paso, Parkland, Orlando, Las Vegas–the list is never-ending. But instead of addressing the issues concerning regulating guns, we need to address the issue of hate. I believe to best address the situation, we have to try to both quell hate and regulate weapons in this country. The root causes of gun violence are not going away, and while we sit idly by arguing about which problem to address, people are dying.

175 people have been killed in the past eight years worldwide as a result of terrorism linked to white supremacy. Last year, nearly 100 percent of race-based domestic terrorism attacks, disrupted plots, threats of violence, and cases of weapons stockpiling were perpetrated by white supremacists. It’s clear to see that people who have been indoctrinated by hate-based ideologies have a greater chance of being violent.

More and more people are being radicalized by far-right terrorist groups, and the problem doesn’t seem to be stopping soon. Communities are popping up all over the internet for these groups to collaborate and recruit people. An analysis done by The New York Times showed that a third of white supremacist killers were motivated by other killers. Just a few months ago, El Paso was attacked by a man who saw Hispanic or Latinx people as a threat to America. The vast majority of immigrants to America are fleeing violence, not coming here to cause more. Despite the hateful absurdity of his views, the El Paso shooter went on to kill 22 people and injure 24 others.

The connections between gun violence and hate are not limited strictly to El Paso. In 2018, 42 out of the 50 people killed by right-wing extremists were killed with a firearm, according to a report done by the Anti-Defamation League. Last year, a gunman who had links to the incel movement, a misogynistic internet culture of men who think that they entitled to sex, shot six women in a yoga studio in Tallahassee, killing two.

These acts of domestic terrorism are disgusting, abhorrent, and above all, preventable. Some of these terrorists tipped off the FBI, yet nothing was done to prevent their access to firearms. Gunmen’s’ friends and family members said that they had histories of violence and abuse. They were allowed to buy guns because of loopholes in background checks or a lack of regulation surrounding the purchase of firearms.

Four years ago in Charleston, a man was able to kill nine people with a gun he was able to buy because his arrest record was entered in the wrong database. If that mistake hadn’t been made, lives would have been saved. The shooter in Odessa failed a background check when he tried to buy a firearm. However, he was able to buy one through a private transaction and then killed seven people. This gun transaction wasn’t illegal, as Texas does not require background checks through the private sales of firearms. Domestic terrorists are becoming increasingly more radicalized, all the while their access to obtain a gun and carry out mass shootings remain largely uninhibited.

After most of these tragedies, all most officials could come up with were thoughts and prayers rather than legitimate reform and change. We need gun control. Government buy-backs, universal background checks and limiting ammunition capacity are solutions that are minimally invasive but make it more difficult to carry out mass shootings.

These acts of gun violence are not fiction and they are happening everywhere. The most detrimental thing we can do right now is stay silent when there is so much to be done. The victims of gun violence were silenced with death, and it’s time that we start speaking up for them.