Don’t politicize the tragedy they say, or at least they’ve said that in the past. Now isn’t the time to debate gun control. This is a time for thoughts and prayers. In El Paso, Texas a shooter (how in God’s name did this ever become a word) shot forty-six people in a Walmart. Where I live, our Walmart isn’t “Super” and I doubt there are ever many more than forty-six people in it at a time. But in El Paso, a city of almost seven hundred thousand, Walmart is so crowded, a pissed-off guy with a battlefield weapon can mow down four dozen people.
The casualty count continues to climb, each time I refresh my browser, the numbers tick ever higher. Fifteen dead, eighteen dead, twenty dead. Every time I click my mouse, another family has lost a parent, a child, a sibling. Donald Trump has pledged his total support, whatever that means, but he hasn’t pledged to remove assault rifles from society. He hasn’t pledged any new laws limiting gun ownership. He hasn’t pledged an era of gun control.
This is the era of mass shootings. So frequent and so fatal, they aren’t even surprising anymore. I’ve grown callous in my digestion of the news. Twenty dead no longer seems like a lot. I don’t know how many people need to be murdered to drop my jaw. After Orlando and Las Vegas, it needs to be fifty at least. The breaking news is that this is a hate crime. The shooter has written a manifesto. He Facebooks against immigrants.
How can you not politicize this shooting? An entire political party refuses to take any action to reduce the number of guns on the street. The president regularly demonizes Latinos. He encourages divisions between cultures, he eggs on his supporters to chant angry slogans against non-Christians and people of color.
Today Julian Castro, a Democratic presidential contender languishing near the bottom of the pack, a candidate I haven’t given a moment of thought so far in this race, separated himself from the field today. While everyone else called for “action to reduce gun violence,” Castro went all in. He called for “gun reform.” Suddenly I’m thinking I might spend a little bit of time looking at Julian Castro.