What We Learned From The El Paso Tragedy
One year ago today, twenty-two people lost their lives to a mentally-deranged man who specifically targeted Hispanics at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Dozens were injured in this tragedy, and in fact, a potential 23rd victim just died from related injuries almost a year later.
Every new shooting prompts society to recycle the same debate regarding firearm ownership, and the constant fear-mongering by the mainstream media only deepens delusions and perverts political discourse. The public deserves more than a false narrative and journalists have an obligation to report the truth. With that said, it is both appropriate and necessary to analyze statistics pertaining to gun violence so that we may draw our own conclusions.
Currently, 2020 is projected to have the highest gun sales in history. The FBI, which records all NICS background checks, shows the first half of the year having 3 months’ worth of background checks in excess of three million (with June being just shy of four million). This places the first half of the year already at two-thirds the total for all of 2019, which is currently the all-time highest.
But how does gun ownership correlate to gun violence? One study over a ten-year period showed the ever-increasing gun ownership in the U.S. to be inversely proportionate to gun homicide, i.e., as gun ownership increased, gun homicide decreased.
Believe it or not, the U.S. is actually a lot safer than you might have guessed. It is true that the U.S. ranks #2 in the world for total gun-related deaths (Brazil being first), arguably because it has one of the largest populations. When the gun deaths are adjusted per capita however, the U.S. falls down to #10 on the global scale. Another significant factor that often goes unsaid is the fact that two-thirds of gun deaths in the U.S. are actually suicide:
In the United States, mass shootings receive the most attention by the media and therefore, many attribute the high gun deaths to mass shootings. Mass shootings, however, are only responsible for a small number of overall gun violence deaths in the United States. More than two-thirds of gun deaths in the US are suicides.
Therefore when we focus exclusively on gun homicide, we see the U.S. fall further still on the global scale, ranking at #16. The U.S. suffers 4.46 gun homicides per 100,000 citizens, compared to Honduras that ranks #1 which endures 66.64 gun homicides per 100,000 citizens (15X greater).
Another study from 2014 analyzed FBI statistics and showed that gun homicide is actually at a 51-year low, despite gun ownership having increased 141% over the same period.
Just because the U.S. is much safer than the media would otherwise have you believe does not mean we should suddenly feel at ease though. The sad reality is that no matter how advanced civilization becomes, evil will always walk amongst us. So the question we must ask ourselves is how best to mitigate tragedies like the El Paso shooting from occurring. Ironically enough, the answer to this question lies within the killer’s own manifesto.
The manifesto, titled The Inconvenient Truth is just over 2,300 words broken into six sections: About Me, Political Reasons, Economic Reasons, Gear, Reaction, & Personal Reasons and Thoughts. Much of it is spent explaining his ideology in which he believes demographics are destiny, and thereby justifies his targeted killing of Hispanics.
This terrible event was different from most shootings for two reasons: It was a killing of a targeted people (most shootings are random), and that the killer drafted a document justifying his actions to society (most shooters do not).
I would argue the most significant part of the manifesto is the final section. In the closing paragraphs he encourages others to follow his lead, but more specifically he tells people which areas to target:
Remember: it is not cowardly to pick low hanging fruit. AKA Don’t attack heavily guarded areas to fulfill your super soldier COD fantasy. Attack low security targets. Even though you might out gun a security guard or police man, they likely beat you in armor, training and numbers. Do not throw away your life on an unnecessarily dangerous target. If a target seems too hot, live to fight another day. [emphasis mine]
In summary, the killer affirms society’s need for the Second Amendment. When society is properly armed, they are able to defend themselves from a threat.
We have witnessed further proof of this just several months later with the shooting at a Texas church. A man carried a shotgun into the parish and fatally shot 2 people, but the shooter was killed within six seconds thanks to two armed civilians within the parish. Had it not been for these armed civilians, “untold number of lives” would have been lost. Of course, any number of lives lost is a tragedy, but the death toll was drastically reduced because our Constitutional rights were properly exercised.
Contrast that with the unarmed civilian, whom, through the eyes of a psychopath, is considered “low hanging fruit” that’s ripe for the picking.
Adam LeDuc is the Executive Editor for The National Times