Statement of Claude Cummings on Mass Shooting in El Paso, Texas

Every Texas heart hurts for El Paso. Senseless hate-driven murder that tears families apart in ways that will never mend has shocked and deeply saddened every community across our state.

What is even more tragic is the occurrence of multiple mass shootings within a very narrow timeframe. Over a week ago, a gunman killed three people and injured more than a dozen in Gilroy, California. And just hours after the horrific shooting in El Paso, another gunman killed 9 people and injured 27 others in Dayton, Ohio. Our nation is in a real crisis!

Lord knows that the thoughts and prayers expressed to comfort the victims and families of those murdered and injured are badly needed, but we must accept that none of them are adequate. Thoughts and prayers without the will or courage to act is a shameful negligence that can no longer be tolerated.

251 times this year alone lives ended, and families were shattered by mass murder. Time and again, we absorbed the shock, shook off sadness and then went about our business – until it happened again, and again, and again. These high-profile shootings are only the most visible consequence of uncontrolled access to guns. Everyday gun violence in the United States leads to an average of 100 deaths per day.

It’s not enough to point to elected leaders and say “do something” before going on with our lives. They will offer up sympathetic words for victims and tough talk about the killers. But don’t expect any meaningful action. They won’t act until we do.

Elected leaders know most Americans support universal background checks and other common-sense gun laws. Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell know the House of Representatives has already passed a background check bill that Americans support across the board.

One party’s leaders have tolerated racial division and hatred within their ranks for a generation. They let it fester and grow to the point that racism is their driving force and appeals to hate and exclusion come directly from the White House. The path from hatred to violence is short and can traveled quickly when it is paved by the President.

The other party’s leadership shares some fault too. They have underestimated the danger of hatred and raw appeals to racial division. Too often they have become absorbed in their own internal differences. They lose focus on their responsibility to not just oppose on principle but to do the hard work to prevail and win.

Gun laws won’t change until we change the law makers. The violence won’t end until we elect leaders with the will to end it.

We must decide what type of country we want and what type of people we want to be. We can respond to El Paso, Dayton, and other mass shootings again by pointing to politicians and saying, “do something.” Or, we can break this unacceptable, inexcusable cycle of violence by uniting, mobilizing and putting into office lawmakers with the courage to move beyond thoughts and prayers.

CWA District 6 Vice President Claude Cummings, Jr. heads CWA’s Human Rights Program.

About CWA: The Communications Workers of America represents working men and women in telecommunications, customer service, media, airlines, public service and manufacturing. @cwaunion

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