August 5, 2020 547 PM
On August 3, 2019, a young man filled with hate drove to El Paso, with a rapid-fire rifle in the trunk, to commit mass murder. He took 23 lives, and changed countless others. It was a tragically familiar event — another in a long line of mass killings — yet with a specific purpose. He wanted to kill Latinos, because his mind was poisoned by anti-immigrant hate perpetuated by the president and other leaders in recent years. He sat in the parking lot watching shoppers, many of whom were there for back-to-school supplies. Then he got out of the car, grabbed his weapon, and began shooting.
No community, anywhere, is immune from the horror of gun violence. Our country, despite its hard-won progress in securing civil rights for all, is not immune from the virus of racism.
Our city, state, and country have a long way to go towards eradicating gun violence in our communities. We must enact common sense and comprehensive gun reform legislation, including requiring background checks for all gun sales, creating Extreme Risk Protective Orders, and investing in community-based violence intervention programs. The proliferation of firearms, along with people’s readiness to use them, perpetuates gun violence and the ensuing trauma.
Because of the pandemic, we do not have the opportunity to mourn, reflect and gather in person. However, we are together as a community as we mourn the lives lost that fateful day, reflect on the past year, and work to find meaning in tragedy. My office has compiled several lists with 23 actions each, honoring those who were senselessly killed a year ago today. These are actions that we can take individually and collectively to honor family and community, and work for peaceful change.
As we continue to heal from the tragic events of Aug. 3, we should continue to remember and honor the innocent lives that were lost. Their loss leaves a void in our community, but their legacy as Paseños from both sides of the border will live in perpetuity.
Through resiliency, constructive dialogue, and our common bond as border residents, we will continue to fight against intolerance and hatred. Together, we stand united in hope and determination to effect change. We will continue to be a welcoming community. We are El Paso Strong.
José Rodríguez represents Texas Senate District 29, which includes the counties of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis and Presidio. He represents both urban and rural constituencies, and more than 350 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. Senator Rodríguez is a member of the Senate Committees on Agriculture (Vice Chair); Natural Resources & Economic Development; Transportation; and Water & Rural Affairs. He also serves on the Senate Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention & Community Safety, which was formed on Sept. 4, 2019, after the mass shootings in El Paso and Midland/Odessa.