August 4, 2019 – The day began as a joyous one. My family had gathered together to wish my parents a happy 50th Anniversary. But mood turned somber pretty quick as news flashed about the tragic shooting in El Paso, Texas, the town where I was raised, where my brother and his family live. Much of the day was spent checking in to see if family and friends were killed.
Later that night, the scene was repeated in Dayton, Ohio. And a pair of political science graduates who became successful high school football coaches lost a star player to a shooting. I’ve had a colleague whose son died at Virginia Tech. One of my friends teaches at Gavilan College in California, where the Gilroy Garlic Festival was located. An El Paso resident posted that she never thought this would ever happen to her in her town. Nobody can say that now.
I’d like to be able to tell you that something will be done, that these children and adults who were gunned down did not die in vain. I wish I could say that good Christians wouldn’t let this happen, or that both political parties could find some common ground that would allow responsible gun ownership with meaningful reforms, or that writing this column would even change a single mind on the subject. I really do.
Politicians are quick to call for thoughts and prayers to the victims of each of the several shootings that occurred over the weekend.
But then I learned something shocking last month: shooters offer thoughts and prayers too.
In 1998, at Jonesboro, Arkansas, two students used a fire alarm drill to shoot and kill four female students and a teacher, wounding a dozen more. One of shooters died in a car crash last month. The other was paroled in 2005. His note at trial stated “Hi. My name is Mitchell. My thoughts and prayers are with those people who were killed, or shot, and their families. I am really sad inside about everything. My thoughts and prayers are with those kids that I go to school with. (https://www.usatoday.com/news/special/shoot/shoot029.htm).”
Maybe we should offer a little more than what the killers promise.
We are prepared to declare Antifa a terrorist group. Though I don’t support that group’s agenda or tactics, I’m beginning to suspect that these white supremacists or incel advocates who gun down innocent bystanders, admire others who do so, seek to spread the word the way ISIS does through decentralized networks, are more of a priority as the body count rises exponentially from their actions.
The shooter’s manifesto, if it is accurate, calls for targeting “low-hanging fruit,” pushes for more attacks, and reserves special rage for “racial mixing” with “inferior races” in a way that would make Adolf Hitler and the Nazis proud.
He’s referring to my brother who lives in El Paso, my brother’s wife, and her family, as well as my young niece, all of whom he would have had no reservations about gunning down had they chosen to shop at Cielo Vista Mall that day, instead of come out to join our family for the reunion. And the shooter is seeking others to join him.
Such columns like this may one day cost me my writing and teaching career, but I can’t stay silent for something like this. Some things are just too important to remain quiet about.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.