Another Shooting, But Nothing Changes

Created: 03 May, 2019
Last update: 27 July, 2022

This week’s attack at a local synagogue jolted our community and once again put San Diego in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

The shooting at Chabad of Poway was another senseless act of hate aimed at completely innocent people, random targets of a deranged young man that even his devastated family has disavowed.

It was another senseless act of violence committed using an assault rifle that should have been outlawed years ago as a weapon of war that really has no place in our society as a means of home defense or sport shooting.

We can debate whether more or stricter gun laws would have prevented the attack because the shooter had no criminal record and could have still purchased any kind of firearms under current or even proposed laws.

This wasn’t a criminal, but a deranged young man who for still unknown reasons turned hateful toward people he had never met. His manifesto posted online right before the shooting mentioned typical white supremacist conspiracy theories aimed toward Jews, and mentioned the shooters of two past attacks on Jews and Muslims.

He also claimed responsibility for last month’s attempted arson of a synagogue in Escondido that was quickly extinguished but still stoked the flames of hatred.

If the past is prologue, this shooting will unfortunately become just another in a long list of shootings perpetrated by unhinged individuals with twisted motives for harming others, but nothing will come of it.

No laws will be changed. No new programs will be launched to deal with mental health issues or social discord. And no pressure will be put on our leaders to change the public discourse that may be leading to a more fractured and angry populace that breeds hatred and contempt.

Just since Monday of this week, there have been eight other shootings where nine people were killed, and 32 others injured, including Tuesday’s shooting at the University of North Carolina (UNC) where a former student killed two and injured five students.

We have to ask ourselves, what’s going on? Are we becoming a more homicidal society, indifferent to the killing of innocent men, women, and children at the hands of seemingly regular people that suddenly turn violent? Are we just more forgiving because of the profile of the shooters?

The identity of this week’s shooter in Poway is not in question. He posted a manifesto under his own name before the shooting, we chased out of the synagogue after the shooting, and even called the police on himself after he had gotten away.

We won’t use his name here so as to not reward him with notoriety, but he is described as an 19 year old, white male from a typical under-middle-class family. His dad is a teacher at the same local high school the shooter attended.

Without going into the details of his manifesto, it’s clear he had a motive to attack random victims. The why doesn’t matter, just that it was planned.

On Tuesday, a 22 year old man burst into a classroom at UNC and opened fire with a pistol. The former student killed two people and injured four others before putting his gun down and surrendering. His grandfather says there were no warning signs that the shooter would commit such an attack.

What has the response been to these two latest attacks?

The media has again covered the tragedies as headline stories, just like so many before. And the President has offered his condolences to the families, as usual.

But what didn’t happen? We didn’t hear proclamations that this was terrorism, that laws should be stricter, or that you should be afraid of people that look like the shooters.

Why? Maybe because the shooters were young white males, not foreigners or God forbid, undocumented immigrants.

When deadly shootings have happened where the suspect was Muslim, Middle Eastern, or a foreigner, talk quickly turned to terrorism, extremists, and religion.

When deaths were attributed to undocumented immigrants, even in cases of car accidents, calls for deportation, stricter immigration laws, and a border wall become all the rage.

But, after this Monday’s senseless shooting at a Jewish place of worship, the only cry we heard came from the victim’s family and friends.

Sure, President Trump called to offer his condolences and support, but he didn’t disavow the hatred and bigotry that lead to the shooting in the first place. He didn’t call it domestic terrorism. He didn’t say this is fundamentally wrong.

During the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, like Barack Obama, was criticized for not referring to terrorists as “Islamic extremists”. She thought the term was incorrect because it implicates an entire religion in terrorist crimes.

But similarly, should shooting like the one in Poway be called “white supremacist extremists” or domestic terrorists?

They clearly aim to terrorize the public and sow fear into our public consciousness.

There are fundamental issues facing our country that must be addressed head-on, or things will continue to get worse. There are roots to the epidemic of mass shootings in America.

Unless we raise our concerns, our voices, and our votes, nothing will change. Again.