In my city this past weekend marked the end of summer vacation. Students would return to school on Monday. Bustling crowds of back to school shoppers could be found at every major retailer. The chaos of stressed out parents and kids searching for the last pair of school uniform pants enveloped the coastal empire. Local barbershops and salons had overflowing parking lots late into Sunday evening. If you got close enough you could almost hear the buzz of clippers crafting hair into art for the first day of school. In my city the normal yearly rituals of school preparation went on without incident. We were fortunate. The same can't be said for the residents of El Paso,Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Both cities became sites of the latest mass shootings.
In El Paso, Texas residents were also busy with back to school shopping until shots rang out at around 10:30 AM Saturday morning. A 21 year old white nationalist decided to wage his own private race war. The result of his hatred was 21 dead and more than two dozen injured. Mothers, Fathers, and children all fell victim to a madman's rage. In an interview with National Public Radio, Mayor of El Paso, Dee Margo expressed outrage and referred to the shooter as "a coward and pure evil". Margo also repeated several times that the shooter was, "Not us". Mayor Margo pledged that the brutal shooting would not define El Paso.
A mere thirteen hours later residents of Dayton, Ohio were also attacked by another lunatic wielding a gun. At the end of this onslaught nine people were dead, including the shooter's own sister. Another 27 were injured. The motive of the 24 year old shooter is not known at this point. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley told NPR that, "Dayton marks the 250th mass shooting in the United States this year, and it marks something pretty terrible about our country."
Mayor Whaley's statement offers the grim reality that Americans face. Mass shootings are now our norm. We hear about these attacks and we are saddened, angered, but I dare say a great deal less shocked than we used to be. We say prayers, offer condolences, and demand that our elected officials take action. Yet, nothing changes. While it seems ridiculous to even have to pose the question, it is necessary. When will the American population demand and force a change in gun laws that will actually keep our people safe? Why are we okay to have weekend after weekend and day after day of gun related violence?
In my city today countless children and parents returned to school and work. I am grateful that they survived a weekend of violence that could have very easily been here instead of there. I am hopeful that each one makes it home safely and never in their lives face the horror of gun related violence. Sadly, in America living without the real danger of being injured or killed by a gun is no longer the norm.