In less than 24 hours, two lone gunmen tore families and communities apart forever, murdering 29 people and injuring dozens more.
“Like millions of others, I woke up this morning, reeling from yesterday’s heinous massacre in El Paso, only to learn of the horror that unfolded in Dayton overnight. The massacres in El Paso and Dayton must be identified as what they are: acts of domestic terrorism.
There is no sacred space in our country, no location immune from the torment of gun violence. In El Paso, as families were shopping for back to school supplies, an anti-immigrant terrorist brutally ambushed them and inflicted his agenda of hate and racism onto an entire community and nation. And let us not forget that many of those injured, and those yearning for information on loved ones, were too frightened to seek help from authorities due to their immigration status. And in Dayton, the shooter murdered 9 people, the majority of whom were people of color, in one minute. The ease with which Americans can acquire deadly assault weapons cannot be ignored. The violent, racist rhetoric of the President of the United States cannot be ignored. The president engages in racist attacks on congresswomen of color; he laughs at the suggestion of murdering migrants; he claims there are ‘very fine people on both sides’ of the Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville. The occupant of the highest office in the country emboldens and empowers racist fear-mongering which so often turns deadly due to easy access to firearms.And yet, lawmakers are refusing to acknowledge the role of guns and white nationalism in this epidemic. The Minority Leader of the House would have us believe that the shootings can be tied to video games, and the Governor of Texas has pinpointed mental health as the cause.
My heart breaks for every innocent life taken by the callous murderers in Dayton and El Paso, and for those taken in my home city of Philadelphia this week. The motives for each of these might be different, but the common thread is simple: easy access to guns. It is infuriating that despite evidence pointing to the effectiveness of background checks, lawmakers continue to refuse implementation of common sense gun reform.
These mass shootings are America. Right now, we are not better than this. We are this. But we don’t have to be. “On behalf of Philadelphia’s educators who walk into classrooms each day seeking to make the world better and more just, I vow to continue fighting for the America we should be.