Three Years Later: How are we still here?

Today marks 3 years since the terrible mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. Having grown up in El Paso this truly devastated me. I can remember waking up that morning as if it was any other day, but upon commencing my morning routine of checking the news I saw something that would shake my world. There had been a shooting in my hometown, a shooting in places where my family and I had walked. I immediately got on the phone and called my family. Thankfully, all my family was safe and not injured, but I did have some friends who were on lockdown in a store located near where the shooting had happened. This shooting made everything real. I never thought I would have to be calling my family to see if they were safe after a mass shooting, much less a shooting where people of my race were targeted. The shooter had driven 10 hours to engage in a hate filled attack targeting of “Mexican”[i] people in a border town….my border town. When it was all over, 22 people were murdered and many more injured. I was left heartbroken and in disbelief. Seeing and hearing the headlines with the words mass shooting and El Paso, Texas was never something I thought I would have to see or hear.

More recently, we saw the shooting in Uvalde, Texas which killed 19 elementary age children and 2 teachers. The gunman in that shooting “began to buy more firearm accessories beginning in February, including 60 30-round magazines. As soon as he turned 18, on May 16, he started buying guns and ammunition. In the end he bought two AR-15-style rifles and thousands of rounds. In total, he spent more than $6,000, the committee found.”[ii] The gunman was able to buy these weapons under Texas law which allows anyone 18 years and older to buy a long gun but has no requirement to have a license to openly carry such a weapon.

With all the mass shootings we have seen in recent times, YWCA stands for gun reform. “YWCA believes that all women and girls deserve to live free from the threat of gun violence. To this end, we support systemic and structural policy changes that focus attention and resources on the places, spaces, and contexts in which women and girls—particularly women and girls of color—experience significant threats from gun violence: in their homes, as victims and survivors of intimate partner violence; in mass shootings, which are most often perpetrated by those with a history of domestic violence; and at school, where students of color both face the threat of school shootings and bear the brunt of harsh school surveillance and security measures.”[iii]

Openly, YWCA USA, and all agencies in local areas, endorse the following policy responses:

  • Keep guns out of the hands of perpetrators of domestic violence, stalking, and other intimate partner violence
  • Eliminate access to automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition
  • Protect students from the danger of school shootings
  • Strengthen methods for screening and removing firearms from individuals who pose significant risk of dangers to others
  • Remove legislative restrictions on gun data collection and sharing.[iv]

The words mass shooting are something I hope I never have to hear again, but the truth is we will not reach this point until major policy changes happen and go into effect.

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