Back to back mass shootings - Activate World

Back to back mass shootings

This weekend, there were two mass shootings in the US, about 13 hours apart. On Saturday, a gunman killed at least 22 people and wounded dozens at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. The second shooting happened Sunday morning when a gunman killed at least 9 people and wounded 27 at an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio. A preliminary assessment of the second shooter’s writings did not indicate any racial or political motive.

On Monday, President Trump condemned white supremacy citing the threat of “racist hate” and calling for national unity. He did not express support for broad gun control, but called for action on mental illness, video games, and “the perils of the internet and social media.”

Lunchtime Conversations:

  • There are two bills on background checks that have already passed in the House. Should Congress end its August recess immediately to act on these in the Senate? With 255 mass shootings so far this year, isn’t it time to “Do Something!”
  • Who has the courage to call out President Trump for the culture of hatred and white nationalism he’s encouraged, and we now see mimicked in the El Paso shooter’s manifesto? Should our business leaders step up and speak out!
  • The NRA has long dominated American politics by stopping common sense gun safety legislation. What will it take to get Congress to listen to Americans and not the ideology of a right-wing extremist organization? 

Noteworthy:

  • President Trump has repeatedly warned that America was under attack by immigrants heading for the border. “You look at what is marching up, that is an invasion!” he declared at one rally. “That is an invasion!”
  • The rifle used in the El Paso shooting was purchased legally. The suspect was allowed to carry it openly in Texas.
  • According to the New York Times, “The US has 270 million guns and had 90 mass shooters from 1966 to 2012. No other country has more than 46 million guns or 18 mass shooters.” 

Storyline:

There is a pattern of mass shootings by people with right-wing views, that are encouraged by online forums. Last year, 39 of the 50 killings committed by political extremists, according to the Anti-Defamation League, were carried out by white supremacists. Another eight were committed by killers with anti-government views. 

Over the past 10 years, right-wing extremists were responsible for more than 70 percent of extremist-related killings. “Right-wing extremist violence is our biggest threat,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the A.D.L., wrote. “The numbers don’t lie.”

According to Judd Legum of Popular Information, “This kind of bloodshed does not happen in a vacuum. It has roots in a political establishment that is fomenting white supremacy, allowing unprecedented access to high-powered weaponry, and demonizing anyone who attempts to address the problem.”  

Legum also says that, “Responsibility for white terrorism starts at the top, with President Trump and his purposely incendiary rhetoric. But the spread of this violent ideology also relies on a communications infrastructure provided by corporate America.” 

The El Paso shooter left a 2300-word manifesto on the website 8chan minutes before beginning his deadly rampage. The shooter says he was inspired by the Christchurch killer, who also posted a manifesto on 8chan before murdering 50 people in New Zealand.

In May, Popular Information reported that 8chan’s owner, Jim Watkins, monetizes 8chan, in part, through Amazon. Watkins owns books.audio, a website that produces audiobooks, which he sells on Amazon.com for between $3 and $17. He then uses 8chan and related websites like The Goldwater, a news website that caters to the 8chan audience, to drive traffic to his products. 

Amazon profited from the 8chan audience. It could have easily stopped Watkins from financing 8chan through Amazon.com but did not act. Other corporations that had been doing business with 8Chan included Cloudflare for site security, and Tucows for domain registry.

Sources:  CNN Politics, Popular InformationThe Washington PostThe New York Times, The Wall Street Journal

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash