A massacre with shades of Trump

A La Jornada Editorial

Memorial in El Paso.

The twenty dead victims that a mass shooting produced yesterday in an El Paso, Texas shopping center swells the excessive number of people that lost their lives because of attacks of this kind in the United States. Just last Monday, July 29, David Brooks, correspondent for La Jornada in that country, counted 247 armed attacks this year against civilians in different parts of United States territory carried out by one or more shooters whose common characteristic –besides their aggressiveness– is their youth. Indeed, the new massacre, which would become number 248, would have been carried out (according to still fragmentary reports) by a 21-year-old youth, apparently arrested by local police.

The statistics may eventually vary; what remains unaltered is the fact that neither the recurrence of the killings nor the scandalous number of dead and wounded they leave are sufficient for the successive occupants of the White House to decide to adopt any measure that at least allows them to exercise greater control over the large amount of armament that floods the US. The verb “flood” is not exaggerated: in that nation there are 88.9 weapons per 100 inhabitants, and the number of formally established gun stores throughout that country is around 130,000. To those businesses must be added informal vendors and transactions that originate in the so-called gun shows (weapons spectacles) that are held in the most permissive states, where collectors and hoarders take advantage to buy their deadly arsenal without control.

The results of those transactions are not unexpected: in the US 36, 383 people die each year due to the intentional use of firearms (22,000 due to suicide and the rest due to homicide). In other words, the killings such as the one that happened yesterday in El Paso monopolize the interest of the media and perhaps may partly stir the American collective conscience; but in any case they represent extreme cases of a criminal mechanics that never stops.

The mere volume of weaponry disturbs, but the ease with which citizens of our northern neighbor can access it gives the issue an explosive tone. In the gun stores of many states, to acquire for example an AR15 assault rifle, a weapon that in recent years has displaced the M16 (a less sophisticated variant of that) for the commission of mass murders, it’s only necessary to prove that you are 21 or older, present a driver’s license and fill out a form in which the buyer declares, among other things, that he doesn’t take antidepressants or suffer a mental deficiency. A few states, California among them, prohibit the free sale of high-power weapons (like the M16, AR15 or AK47) and condition a light weapons permit; but in general the sale of weapons has the endorsement of the second amendment to the United States Constitution that dates back to 1791, when the country’s historical circumstances had nothing to do with those now (“… a well-ordered militia is necessary for the security of a free State,” the text says).

If the foregoing is not enough to configure an extremely grave social panorama, it is the question of motivations, which in this case seem to be, as in previous cases, openly racist and anti-immigrant, in harmony with the speech of President Donald Trump, whose sinister resonances support (although he officially condemns the acts) all the stupidity and barbarity that massacres like the one yesterday evidence, and which also deprived at least three Mexican citizens of their lives [1].


[1] The number of Mexican citizens that were murdered in the El Paso massacre has risen to eight (8), as of this date.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, August 4, 2019


Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



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