Do I need to re-examine my prior thoughts on the issue of sensible gun legislation? I have gone back to my February 2018 posting inspired by Parkland and updated my thoughts in bold italics. I have not addressed Donald Trump's role in inspiring the El Paso shooter or the commercials running those paint immigrants as an invasion, invoking racial tropes, because in these two incidents over the weekend the motivations of the shooters appear to be quite different.
What was very striking was that in the two incidents, shooters used weapons of war and had the ability to kill so many so quickly. Weapons of war are what put "Mass" in the death toll and tagged the designation of the two events as"mass shooting". In his initial response to the weekend carnage, President Trump ignored the obvious. In condemning white nationalism, the left has not ignored the obvious. Weapons of war are the tools of both the emotionally disturbed and terrorists of any ideological stripe.
For sure, we cannot end racism, the core culture of white nationalists, but we can dim the voice of the inspirers and enablers with political pressure and elections. Cracking down on "domestic terrorism" does give the FBI more human and legal resources and tools to prevent ideologically motivated wannabe mass killers. Every bit of that will help. The problem is more widespread than just domestic terrorism, but every bit of harnassing FBI attention to domestic terrorism may be a positive outcome of the El Paso tragedy.
To reexamine my views on sensible gun legislation, I added comments to a blog posting published on 2/16/18 in which I reported on a dialogue I had with a gun rights advocate. The original posting is in regular type and my updates this August 2019 are in italics, bold. I tackle the NRA's slogan answer to mass shootings that guns do not kill people, people kill people. the second amendment, and putting guns in the hands of good guys to stop bad guys.
The addition and changes to the 2018 facebook and blog posting debate between a gun rights advocate and me:
"...any answer I give will change no minds of those who believe otherwise, but I could not help myself but engage. The Parkland, Fla massacre was my inspiration. Perhaps it might help if you are at a loss for words, but here it is, reproduced from Facebook.(Clarification added later in parentheses)
Texas is an open-carry state and friendly to concealed weapons. During the event in El Paso, there was a fear that those civilians who carried weapons might be mistaken for the shooter himself...but small arms turned out to be no factor...as well as no deterrent... and the shooter lived to tell his story.
Another commenter: When President Reagan was nearly assassinated, he was surrounded by professional sharpshooters. They couldn't stop the assassin. You think you can?
Me, later: (Better idea, gun rights advocate: Stop sales of assault rifles, semi-automatics and their large clips of ammo.) No change in my thoughts about this as the result of El Paso and Dayton. Mental health services might help, but in the wake of the Aurora Colorado theatre shooting, the shooter had been under the care of a psychiatrist who did flag him, but restrictions kept anyone from acting. My psychologist friends (I am a supporter of mental health system improvements and access to counseling through a faith-based organization) tell me even then they have only a 50-50 chance of predicting which of their patients will carry out mass shootings or kill someone. Mental health is a factor, but in courts of law, the insanity plea is rarely successful. Should we improve our mental health services? Yes. Every little bit will help, but it is not a panacea or even a major deterrent. Without red flag laws permitting reporting of people may be a threat and without universal background checks, improved mental health access still hamstrings the ability for mental health professionals to prevent mass killings.