Three years ago, in El Paso, a city composed of 81.5% Latinos and largely considered one of the safest cities in our country, a young man entered an El Paso Walmart and mercilessly shot and killed 23 innocent souls and injured 24 others during the massacre. Today, our hearts remain broken as we remember the victims and survivors of one of the deadliest attacks specifically targeting Latinos and immigrants.
We must become a welcoming country to those yearning to live safely, not a nation that condones hate, discrimination, and violence.
The trauma continues for the families and our communities long after the shooter was arrested. It is our responsibility to honor their lives by demanding stricter gun control and an end to the racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, anti-Semitic, anti-Asian, anti-Black, homophobic rhetoric that undermines our sense of unity as a country.
We welcomed the passing of the recent bipartisan gun legislation, which addresses access to guns and provides funding to support mental health services. However, the pattern of mass shootings proves that our government must do more on gun control. More mass shooters now are using semi-automatic rifles, in many cases purchased under existing gun laws. The attackers in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and even more recently in Highland Park, Illinois, all used legally purchased semi-automatic rifles. These rifles have a lethal efficiency that causes mass destruction and should not be sold to people who have no business buying them.
The proliferation of conspiracy theories, white supremacy, and hate rhetoric on mainstream and social media must be addressed. The El Paso shooter wanted to stop a “Hispanic invasion of Texas” at a time when leaders used the invasion rhetoric and words like “animals” and “rapists” to describe immigrants. Other leaders are taking extreme steps to criminalize and dehumanize immigrants and others, such as Operation Lone Star and the introduction of anti-LGBTQ+ bills aimed at our children across the country. These hateful and discriminatory narratives and policies strip individuals of their humanity, normalize hate, and radicalize young men. Such events only prove that it is white supremacists and hate that pose the greatest threat of increased violence to our societies – not vulnerable immigrants and other marginalized communities.
The El Paso attack, Pulse attack, Buffalo, and many others occurred because of weak gun control laws and anti-immigrant and other hate rhetoric. Hispanic Federation is committed to fighting for stronger laws that protect all communities from senseless gun violence and white supremacy. We must become a welcoming country to those yearning to live safely, not a nation that condones hate, discrimination, and violence. Our leaders must implement policies that reflect our communities and the will of the public, such as immigration reform and stricter gun control legislation, and must do everything in their power to combat hate-inspiring narratives and policies.
Frankie Miranda is the president and CEO of Hispanic Federation.
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