Advocates call for gun-control laws as anniversary of two mass shootings nears

Border Report

El Paso County building community garden to honor victims of Aug. 3 Walmart shooting; Dayton mayor laments opposition to more strict background checks

In this Aug. 6, 2019, file photo, people crowd around a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

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EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — El Paso County leaders on Monday approved two resolutions to honor the memory of victims of the Aug. 3 mass shooting at a local Walmart.

County officials unanimously designated Aug. 3 as a “Day or Remembrance” for the 23 victims of the racially-motivated attack and voted to support a local congresswoman’s efforts to designate a national memorial in their honor.

Groundbreaking for the El Paso County Community Healing Garden takes place this Sunday. It’s a wall with the names of the victims surrounded by elements of nature and water features. An El Paso construction company is donating $75,000 in pavers, benches, spotlights, and other materials. Another $25,000 has been pledged for plaques.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego

“The senseless and horrific attack we experienced on Aug. 3 has forever affected our community,” County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said. “We want to make sure we move forward but also don’t forget what happened and also the vulnerability we live here in our community.”

Samaniego said the garden would give border residents a place to internalize a shocking tragedy that hurt all in this community in one way or another. He also urged residents to act with “kindness and joy” and celebrate life rather than harbor hate.

A North Texas man, Patrick Crusius, faces state and federal charges in connection with the shooting deaths of 23 people and injuries to 23 others. He allegedly told arresting police officers shortly after the shooting that he had come to kill Mexicans and stop the “Hispanic invasion” of Texas.

Just hours after the El Paso attack, a gunman killed nine people and wounded 17 others in Dayton, Ohio.

Advocates for the victims of both mass shootings on Monday expressed frustration that promised gun-control laws to reduce the likelihood of more mass shootings have failed to materialize.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said people at a memorial rally a day after the attack in that Ohio city broke out in a chant of “Do something!”

“I thought that in months maybe we might be able to do something about gun violence … even the President said, ‘You will like what you’ll see,’ and you could sense something had changed,” Whaley said Monday in a teleconference. “Yet as we approach the one-year anniversary nothing has changed. The chant too, ‘do something,’ has resulted in nothing.”

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, said gun violence is preventable through legislation like HR8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. But that such bills have faced obstruction from the White House and the Senate.

“This is not a controversial issue. The vast majority of Americans want to feel safe in their communities. They believe they should send their kids to school and not fear for their lives,” the El Paso congresswoman said. “The vast majority of Americans want to believe they can walk into a Walmart and not be gunned down.”

She said survivors of the Aug. 3 El Paso shooting are still grappling with physical and mental trauma, as well as large medical bills.

“I believe (telling) the stories of Dayton and El Paso will bring change, if not in terms of legislation, in the ballot boxes. Then we can have gun legislation,” she said.

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