What we have learned from El Paso and Dayton


Dear Partners in thought,

As I come back from blog break, it would be hard not to write about the massive El Paso and Dayton tragedies we all know. 

What have we learned from these 249th and 250th “mass shootings” this year alone? Nothing new. Mass shootings be they in schools, shopping malls or restaurant districts in “America the beautiful”, the leading country in the world, are probably the number one horrifying fact of American life today. It looks like the severity of those two tragedies may have caused some serious thinking and re-thinking even if the NRA is likely getting into gear, counting on its paid politicians and lobbyists to propel the usual message that guns are what have made America and will keep it safe against all enemies. 

When looking at the reactions to El Paso and Dayton, especially from the NRA supporters and the so-called defenders of their interpretation of the Second Amendment, it is useful to understand the following two points:

1. President Trump has encouraged hatred through his language and style which led mentally-ill individuals who felt they were following a virtuous path for America (at least in the case of El Paso) to go and shoot innocent people. When Trump first reacted to El Paso, he condemned the event due to its “cowardice” as if the shooter should have simply not killed people in the back. This is beyond words and shows who Trump is and what damage he has done to America (and the world on other matters). That he dares linking congressional legislation on gun control to immigration is beyond belief in what America always stood for. 

2. Some likeable Republican pundits like Rick Santorum, a former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and Republican presidential candidate now acting as moderate conservative counterpunch on CNN, reacted to potential (read likely) gun legislation in two ways: 1. Depriving good citizens of the possibility to stop bad events like in El Paso and Dayton as they would have no access to guns would be bad. 2. Making guns hard to obtain will not stop really bad people from getting them if they want. Rick Santorum is right. However police forces as in many countries in the world have the mission to enforce the law and protect citizens (in Dayton they stopped and killed the shooter in one minute of his rampage which, if already dreadful, could have been much worse while in El Paso the shooter was apprehended in a few short minutes even if the dead and wounded count was horrifying). Moreover gun legislation would be targeted at assault weapons and special multi-round magazines like the two shooters used, not simple handguns so American culture would be preserved. Lastly Santorum is right in that “bad people” committing bank robberies or gangs fighting gangs will always have access to bad guns like everywhere else but 21 year old “nutcases” influenced by the official DC discourse and social media won’t and schools and shopping malls will be safer for this. 

Gun control is not out of reach. If anything El Paso and Dayton due to their dual timing and horror may this time lead to real change that even the NRA, Trump and his friends will not be able to stop as it would be too costly politically. With this on the road a much harsher management of hate speech on social media will need to be put in place as guns are only one of the tools to control even at the cost of free speech. There is “no ifs or buts” today to borrow from a recent PM in Britain.

Warmest regards,