Statement on Recent Gun Violence
The Arlington Human Rights Commission is appalled and horrified by the recent mass shootings that have dominated the news:
5/14: The racially-motivated shooting in Buffalo, NY, where 10 Black grocery shoppers were killed and 3 others injured by a white shooter radicalized by a racist conspiracy theory.
5/15: The politically-motivated shooting in Laguna Woods, CA, where 1 person was killed and 5 injured at a Taiwanese church by a shooter opposed to Taiwan’s independence from China.
5/24: The unexplained shooting in Uvalde, TX, where 19 children and 2 teachers were killed at an elementary school, after the shooter shot his grandmother at home and shot at others outside the school.
Making matters even worse, it is important to realize that shootings have been occurring all year. According to FBI data, shootings have been dramatically increasing year over year since 2020. The school shooting in Uvalde was the 27th school shooting this year. The Gun Violence Archive counts 17 (and growing) mass shootings just since the killings in Buffalo.
The AHRC finds this unacceptable, and demands concrete steps be taken to fix this problem.
Personal safety experts understand that attacks happen when an attacker has a combination of three things: intent, opportunity, and means. As a society, we need to be open-minded to solutions that address any of these components:
Intent: This is the most diverse category, because the motivation to kill is very personal. It will be very challenging to address root causes like racism, social isolation, mental health, and medical or economic hopelessness. We must work on all of these fronts, and accept that social safety nets can play a key role here. The less compassionate a society becomes, the more individuals are inspired with violent intent.
Opportunity: This is also a very challenging category because opportunities abound. Social gatherings are important to our communities, and they often gather similar people to single locations where they can become targets. Protecting all of these gatherings is a difficult, last-ditch solution. It is often too late.
Means: This is an area where there is evidence from other countries that solutions do work. An attacker with intent and opportunity is still less likely to cause death without the means. Guns are killing tools and some guns are specifically designed to kill people. The availability of these weapons is the primary reason that killings in America are so frequent and lethal - over 110 people die each day from gun violence and it is the leading killer of children and teens in the US. Mass shootings get the most media attention but they are only a small portion of overall gun violence. We must be open to solutions in this area, even if we need to discuss it at a Constitutional level.
To solve this problem, we cannot refuse to consider any of these factors. Are there gun owners who don’t kill people? Yes. Are there mentally ill people who don’t kill people? Absolutely. Are there racists who don’t kill people? Admittedly so. But to prevent these tragic massacres, we need to prevent the combination of these three factors, and some are easier to control than others. These innocent lives are worth more than anything else.
How you can help:
Debunk false ideologies of hate like “Great Replacement Theory”, the idea that radicalized the Buffalo shooter, whenever you encounter them. Learn more on Wikipedia and see what organizations like the ADL are doing.
Reach out to people experiencing social isolation. This problem was already headed to epidemic proportions before the pandemic, and now it’s worse. Learn more from the CDC and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Support your community. Be aware of people’s emotional welfare, and be aware at social events.
Share and utilize this guide with Helpful Information During and After a Traumatic Event, which was distributed by APS Superintendent Elizabeth C. Homan, Ph.D.
Help your children cope with these recent tragedies. Superintendent Homan shared this resource from the National Association of School Psychologists.
Look at these facts about gun proliferation and gun violence in America: Gun Violence in 2021, By the Numbers
Demand productive gun control legislation from your US representatives:
Read more about the intersection of guns and hate in our newsletter from September, 2021.
Take care of each other.
Arlington values equity, diversity, and inclusion. We are committed to building a community where everyone is heard, respected, and protected.
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