WASHINGTON – Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements on next week’s one-year marks of the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings, during which 32 people were killed and 40 more were wounded in one weekend.
The El Paso shooter was driven by racism against Latino communities, and rhetoric found in his white supremacist manifesto echoed that of President Donald Trump. The shooter in Dayton reportedly seethed at female classmates and threatened them with violence, underlining the tragic fact that many mass shootings are rooted in domestic violence or hatred towards women.
“In the year since two deadly mass shootings devastated our nation in less than 24 hours, nearly 40,000 people have been killed by gun violence in America––and twice that many have been wounded––but Senate Republicans have still failed to act,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “This November, we will hold Trump and his allies accountable for their utter failure to keep us safe.”
“The El Paso and Dayton gunmen both expressed their hatred for marginalized communities in America: one for Latino immigrants and the other for women. This same kind of rhetoric is often on display in Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “These mass shooting tragedies demonstrate the dangers of hate speech combined with easy access to guns, and also the need to elect leaders in November who are committed to disarming hate.”
“It’s been a year since the tragic shootings in Dayton and El Paso, and yet, our so-called leaders in the Ohio state legislature and the U.S. Senate have still failed to act,” said Shela Blanchard, a Moms Demand Action volunteer whose niece Monica was killed during the shooting in Dayton, OH. “Sometimes I don’t understand why they can’t feel the pain we feel––because if they did, just for 60 seconds, there wouldn’t be any gun safety bills dying on their desks while people continue to die in the streets. But if they won’t act, then I can promise one thing: we won’t stop fighting until we find leaders who will.”
“August 3rd marks one year since El Paso – a safe and secure border community – found itself at the intersection of America’s gun violence and hate epidemics,” said Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (D-TX). “As a community in pain honors the 23 beautiful souls murdered and 22 injured in this brutal act of terror, we must continue to insist in our mission to disarm hate and bring justice to El Paso, Dayton, and every town in our nation that has been affected by senseless gun violence.”
“One year ago, just hours after the El Paso shooting, our Dayton community was devastated when 9 of our own were killed and 17 more wounded by a horrific mass shooting,” said Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton, OH. “In the time since, so-called leaders––from Donald Trump to Mitch McConnell––have utterly failed to act. But make no mistake: we will never forget those we lost that weekend, and we will not stop fighting until we honor their memories with action.”
Senate Republicans and President Trump pledged to act in the aftermath of these shootings, but broke that promise after NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre walked into the White House and told Donald Trump to “stop the games” on gun safety. Currently, several House-passed bills await action from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), including H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which would require background checks on all gun sales; H.R. 1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, which contains life-saving provisions to disarm domestic abusers and stalkers; and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, which would address the “Charleston loophole,” which allows gun sales to proceed after three business days even if a background check has not been completed.
Over the last several years, there have been many incidents of hate mirroring President Trump’s rhetoric: Last year, the El Paso shooter’s white supremacist manifesto echoed Trump’s anti-Latino racism; in 2018, a Trump supporter sent bombs to Trump critics including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama; in 2019, a Milwaukee man threw acid on a Latino man after asking him “Why did you come here and invade my country?” and telling him to “go back;” and in early 2020, during Trump’s impeachment trial, another Trump supporter threatened to kill Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). On top of that, ABC found 54 cases invoking ‘Trump’ in connection with violence, threats, and alleged assaults; schools have reported that kids are being bullied with Trump’s rhetoric; and the number of hate groups increased by 55% since 2017.
After the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, activists across the country came together to act––spurring a massive surge in momentum for the gun safety movement. In the year since, the number of Moms Demand Action volunteers across the country has grown by over 100%; several corporations spoke out about gun violence for the first time; the Virginia statehouse flipped to a gun sense majority and passed several pieces of gun safety legislation; and Vice President Joe Biden secured the Democratic nomination by running, in part, on gun safety.
Earlier this week, Everytown hosted a press call marking one year since these tragic shootings. The call featured John Feinblatt; Shannon Watts, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, and Shela Blanchard. A recording of the press call is available upon request.