Responses to the three recent mass shootings in El Paso, Dayton and Gilroy, in which gunmen used assault-style semi-automatic weapons to kill 32 people and wound at least 66 others, followed the usual script.
Trump, Mitch McConnell and other prominent Republicans denounced the violence and sanctimoniously offered their “sincere thoughts and prayers” to the families of the victims. Democrats renewed their calls for universal background checks and an assault weapons ban, which a majority of the American people want. The NRA and gun rights supporters recited their shopworn lines about the sacredness of the Second Amendment and repeated their mindless trope that “guns don’t kill people, people do.” (Actually, people with guns kill people, and people with high capacity semi-automatics kill a lot of people very quickly, as in Dayton where the gunman killed nine and wounded 27 in less than a minute.)
The 24-hour news cycle moved on to cover Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide and other titillating stories. Nothing will change until the American people make Trump, McConnell and other obstructionists pay a heavy political price for their recalcitrance and hypocrisy.
It is no mere coincidence that the El Paso killer posted a manifesto using language similar to President Trump’s, calling Hispanic immigrants “invaders” who are replacing whites and ruining his beloved Texas. For years, the president has demonized Hispanic immigrants as criminals, rapists and drug gangsters. This is a deliberate strategy that appeals to the fears and prejudices of his political base. The president doesn’t really care that his language emboldens white nationalists and has led to a surge in hate crimes. As long as this strategy works for him politically, he will do nothing to deal with the rising tide of domestic terrorism he has helped fuel.
Mitch McConnell’s “thoughts and prayers” are equally feckless. If he really cared about the victims, he would cancel the Senate’s six-week summer recess and give an honest hearing to the gun control laws the House already has passed.
If you are sick of this and want things to change, consider contributing to the Ditch Mitch Fund, which is raising money to help Amy McGrath, a former Marine combat pilot, challenge McConnell in November 2020. Or contribute to MoveOn.org Political Action, which is raising money for anti-McConnell billboards in high traffic areas in Kentucky. Even a small contribution helps. Raise your voice, write a letter, attend a public demonstration, work to deny Trump a second term. If we do nothing, it is only a matter of time before the next round of mass shootings begins. Dump Trump. Ditch Mitch.
Bill Dunkel is a Windham resident.