Let the predictable proposals begin. Ideas that either wouldn’t have prevented the latest mass shootings (universal background checks for gun purchases) or that address one small thing that might not even be a factor (violent video games).
Instead, let’s call the El Paso attack what it is — white nationalist terrorism. That way, we can apply a framework that actually addresses the problem.
We’ve done it before, when we were brutally attacked by Islamic extremists in 2001. And though there were missteps along the way, the U.S. has largely been kept safe from repeated spectacular attacks by such terrorists.
There are no quick solutions. The mass shooting problem, and the racism that fuels so much hate, aren’t going away soon. And tackling white supremacist violence won’t cover every shooter.
But by naming the biggest threat, marshaling resources and building national unity around tackling it, we can make real progress and ultimately save lives.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, FBI leaders re-oriented the agency around preventing future attacks. Now, law enforcement at all levels need to make the white supremacist terrorist threat a priority.
Tracking and stopping individual haters is a tall order. There isn’t a central organization to pursue, as there was with al-Qaeda, and it’s not just a federal job.
In almost every case there are signs of impending violence. The Dayton, Ohio, killer had a high school hit list that many fellow students knew about. Police need to take these threats seriously.
President Donald Trump said all the right things Monday about America being no place for hate. The problem is everything he has for four years as an attention-grabbing candidate and as president.
Trump did not directly cause the shooting. But his words and ideas offer refuge for the worst kind of conspiracy theorist and those who would turn to violence in response to the idea that white Americans are losing their edge in life or even being “replaced.”
It’s not that hard to be tough on illegal immigration without turning to race-baiting.
Expanding background checks is the preferred immediate policy of most gun control advocates. But many mass shooters have passed such checks to buy their guns.
A better first-step would be the creation of gun violence restraining orders, also known as “red-flag” laws. This popular idea would allow police, with a judge’s supervision and approval, to remove weapons from someone found to be an imminent threat.
Preventing radicalization is one of the biggest challenges of dealing with any terrorist movement. It’s a matter of education, opportunity and persuasion. To prevent mass shootings, we need an extended conversation about how to help young men do better — and be better.
These steps require a national commitment. But if we approach this problem with the same spirit as we did the Sept. 11 attacks, we can reduce violence.