US gun violence: A trip to the store could mean bread, butter… bullets

“There is a special place in hell” for people who still opposed gun control, said Texas Senate member Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat, on Twitter today, after the latest incident of mindless massacre in the United States of America, with nine killed and seven injured yesterday by a gunman at a mall in Dallas, Texas.

The latest incident of mass murder indicates that American politicians who send out their “thoughts and prayers” to victims’ families but refuse to support gun control are not doing enough; that is what Senator Gutierrez was referring to.

Yesterday’s shooting at Allen Premium Outlets in Dallas, the main city of Texas, comes just a year after two incidents of senseless gun violence in the US. A Twitter video whose content is too graphic to be shared here shows a bloodied pile of bodies at the Allen mall shootout site.

Within a few hours of that massacre, another report came that police were investigating a “possible active shooter situation” at the Stonebriar Mall in Collin County, Texas, just 12 miles from the Allen mall, though no casualties were reported.

Covered bodies at the Allen Premium Outlets mall, Texas. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@Hexdlinenews

In May 2022, a young adult aged 18 obtained an assault rifle and randomly opened fire at an elementary school classroom in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers. In the same month, a racist attack by a shooter, also aged 18, left 10 black people dead and three injured at the Tops Friendly Markets supermarket in Buffalo, New York. The supermarket killer even livestreamed his massacre on Twitch, but the footage was scrubbed by the video platform within minutes.

The gunmen in the Allen mall shooting in Dallas and the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde were both killed by the police. The Buffalo supermarket gunman was arrested and indicted, and he has pleaded guilty to several charges, including a first-degree charge of domestic terrorism.

Also in between these are mass murders that did not happen in public places, such as the “execution-style” massacre of a family of five on April 29, 2023, in Cleveland, Texas. The chief suspect, 38-year-old Francisco Oropeza, reportedly fled the country after killing his neighbours, armed with an AR-15 rifle, a military-grade weapon.

As per initial investigations, the neighbours were shot dead — all shot from neck up — because they had asked Francisco Oropeza to stop firing his weapon in his yard as the neighbours’ baby could not sleep. Among the murder victims was a little boy aged eight, and two of the murdered women threw themselves over two children to save them.

The debate over gun control and gun violence has divided America — while those in favour of gun control want assault rifles kept out of the hands of civilians, those against say that they are not giving up any of their guns at any cost. Social networks have erupted, once again, with comments from both sides after these recent massacres.

Among politicians, the Republicans are against gun control because they simply fear losing elections. A New York Times report in May 2022, after the Texas school massacre, said: “Most Republicans in the Senate represent deeply conservative states where gun ownership is treated as a sacred privilege enshrined in the Constitution, a privilege not to be infringed upon, no matter how much blood is spilled in classrooms and school hallways around the country.”

The NYT report quoted Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota as saying, about the voter reaction if he were to support any real gun control, that “most [voters] would probably throw me out of office”.

US Vice-President Kamala Harris wants an immediate ban on assault rifles in the hands of civilians. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@OliLondonTV

The Democrats want gun control, and they want it now. Kamala Harris, Vice-President of the United States, said, “An assault weapon is a weapon of war, with no place, no place in a civil society.” She spoke in May 2022, attending the funeral of a woman killed in the Buffalo supermarket shooting. On May 5 this year, she tweeted “Let’s get it done” with a poster that said: “Congress Must Pass an Assault Weapons Ban. President Joe Biden will SIGN IT.”

As the gunman killed nine in Dallas the very next day, on May 6, Gutierrez tweeted, along with the hashtag: #bloodontheirhands, that “there is a special place in hell for people who watch all this happen and choose to do nothing.”

USA gun violence