By: Lilli Erigero
I remember when mass shootings would stop us all in our tracks. The country would focus on the story for weeks on end. From Sandyhook to Pulse Nightclub to Stoneman Douglas–these horrific events would be on the top of everyone’s minds. Now these ‘once in a lifetime’ events happen once a week. Last Saturday, May 15, the United States experienced yet another hate motivated mass shooting, and I can’t help but ask–when is enough ACTUALLY enough?
18-year-old white man allegedly shot and killed ten people and injured three others in Buffalo, New York. Authorities said the suspect targeted a supermarket in a predominantly Black community. Eleven of the thirteen people shot were Black.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia called the shooting “pure evil” and a "straight-up racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community."
The suspect is a proud white supremacist who meticulously planned out the shooting. He drove 200 miles to carry out this attack and live-streamed it on Twitch, an online live-streaming platform owned by Amazon that is popular with gamers. The suspect is also believed to be the author of numerous white supremacists posts, detailing a plan to target a Black community in New York. The suspect allegedly had plans to keep driving and “shoot more Black people,” according to Buffalo chief police.
The police are investigating the shooting as a racially motivated hate crime, and are considering the added of charge of terrorism. Separately, the FBI is investigating the mass shooting as a hate crime and an act of violent extremism.
The alleged shooter has a history of making violent threats. The suspect made a generalized threat toward(?) his high school in 2021, and the police even brought him in for a mental health evaluation, released after a day and a half.
Additionally, the suspect in Buffalo used an AR-15, an assault weapon that was purchased legally in New York State. The store owner who sold him the semi-automatic used in the attack reportedly said no alerts came up when running the suspect’s name through the government background check.
This isn’t the first time our government background checks have failed at preventing mass shooters from acquiring weapons. Shootings like the one in Buffalo and so many others could have been stopped with better, comprehensive background checks.
This tragedy is sadly a part of a greater trend. It’s difficult to hear about this shooting and not think about Charleston in 2015, Orlando in 2016, Christchurch in 2019, El Paso in 2019, Pittsburgh, and all the other sites where hate-motivated radicals have carried out mass killings.
This leads us to ask why. Why is this such a problem? How does someone with a history of violent threats and white supremacist posts online for all to see, legally acquire a deadly weapon?
How do we prevent this? How do we keep our communities safe?
It is way past due for common sense gun laws. It should not be controversial to ban military grade, semi-automatic weapons. It should not be controversial to screen gun owners, especially those already flagged by police.
Without gun control, it’s not a question of if this will happen again, but when. It’s our leader’s responsibility to DO SOMETHING about this obviously systemic issue our country is facing. We need to make sure this doesn’t happen again, but it will, unless we as a country agree that ‘never again’ actually means, never again.
If you would like to find out how to take action, visit Everytown for resources on gun safety and to take action to help save lives. Enough truly is enough.