Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Odessa-Midland: yet another avoidable tragedy


Hundreds of mass shootings have taken place in the U.S. within the past several years. Shootings like Columbine and Sandy Hook were able to shock the country’s conscience for longer than a couple of weeks, but it seems that we are increasingly taking part in a collective acceptance of their occurrence.

Somehow, we have been led to believe there is nothing we can do to keep innocent people alive. But the truth is that there are ways to keep guns out of the wrong hands; there are ways to protect children at school and there are ways to quell the violence that do not include adding more guns to the equation. With the recent shooting in Odessa and Midland, Texas has become the latest example of what our negligence to act can lead to.

Seven people have died and nearly two dozen have been injured in Odessa and Midland after yet another mass shooting. This shooting comes less than a month after the horrific white supremacist attack in El Paso, Texas that took the lives of 22 people. The motives of the coward who perpetrated the Odessa-Midland attack are still not entirely clear, although he had been fired from his job just hours before the shooting.

What is known is how he was able to access the AR-15-style rifle that was used: he purchased the gun at a private sale after previously being denied by a licensed gun dealer due to a background check that revealed a mentally ill diagnosis that made him unfit to own a firearm.

I don’t have a problem with people owning guns. I don’t believe that all the guns need to be tossed into a volcano or that someone shouldn’t be able to own a firearm to protect themselves. However, I do believe that there are some very simple steps we, as a country, can take that would make all of us safer without tearing up the Second Amendment.

Something as basic as universal background checks would go a long way in making sure that guns are not falling into the hands of people with criminal backgrounds or those who have been diagnosed with severe mental illnesses, a gun reform that over 90% of the United States population is in favor of according to a Gallup poll.

In the case of the Odessa shooter, a background check actually stopped his initial attempt to purchase a gun; however, he was still able to buy one in a private sale because private sellers are not required to run background checks on purchasers under current law.

Congress should also pass a red flag law that would give courts the ability to take firearms away from people who have been designated as a threat to themselves or others. A bill like this even has the support of many Republicans in Congress.

Reinstatement of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, first passed in 1994, would keep the most lethal weapons out of civilian hands and would restrict magazine capacity — a move that would curb the damage that a single shooter could inflict.

None of these reforms is a “gun grab” or a tool to weaken the Second Amendment. Even Constitutional rights have their limits: The First Amendment doesn’t let you yell “fire” in a theater or burn draft cards. These reforms will make us all safer, and while shootings will likely still occur, their frequency and lethality will be greatly reduced. Call or email your senators and representatives from the statehouse all the way up to Washington D.C., and advocate for these bills that can actually save lives.

While I’m sure that the mourning communities appreciated Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s tweet following the tragedy that he and his wife would be “lifting up in prayer all of the victims, their families, and the entire Midland-Odessa community,” tweets of prayer will simply not be enough to protect Americans from future mass shootings — gun reform will.

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About the Contributor
Josh Peck
Josh is a third-year sociology major with two minors in professional writing and rhetoric and civic engagement. He is a self-starter with a goal-oriented mindset and a passion for writing. During his time at The Paisano, he has worked as the assistant managing editor and has served as a news editor since December 2019. Josh has also interned with Texas Public Radio and hopes to enter the journalism field after graduation. When he's not running down leads or staring at a blank page that won't fill itself, Josh enjoys listening to podcasts, taking photos, going on late night walks and playing Tetris 99 on the Nintendo Switch.