A map will peg Odessa, Texas, 580 miles west of Galveston County. But after this past weekend’s killing of seven people by an active shooter, the two communities will forever be closer together due to the sharing of a scarlet bond.
Many would say that until this past Saturday, the two communities were as different as night and day, sand and desert, or palm trees and sage bushes.
But now the two share a history of deadly mass shootings — the Santa Fe High School shootings in May 2018 and the Odessa shootings this past Saturday. And neither community will ever be the same again.
The Daily News reports the news. Other than on the editorial page, we work to provide you with fact-based information and invite you to make your own educated decisions on the best course forward. But today, on this page, we need to have a conversation. Something has changed, something is terribly different. Guns have always been a part of Texas culture — for both sport, and protection. But mass shootings of innocent people, no.
We are tired of posting front-page stories of shooters taking innocent lives in the name of nothing more than a joy ride with an assault weapon. Too often, the only motivation seems to be one of mental instability. No one is trying to change the government, no one is trying to take over a piece of land. The only common goal is to create terror and harm as many unarmed and innocent people as possible.
Enough is enough. If we, as a society, do not get serious about this increasingly dangerous trend, more lives will be lost and increasing pressure for stricter gun control may finally sweep across the public. In a nation with gun rights written into the constitution, burying heads in the sand in the face of today’s issue is an insult to those who first penned the words.
A society that only treats these mentally driven actions as outliers is morally bankrupt. High-profile panels of experts or elected officials are useless unless we dare to apply the resources needed to aggressively address the problem.
Here is our call to action:
1. Mental health research needs are supported and promoted. Fund the research and discover the root elements of the motivations to perform these crimes. Simply removing guns will not prevent someone with a mental imbalance from harming others. High-powered weapons are simply the tool of choice.
2. Have a modern-day discussion about the limits of what firepower should be allowed to circulate unrestricted to the public. Compel both sides to come to the table and not get up until a compromise is agreed upon. Politics be damned, this needs to happen.
3. Come together as a society and talk openly about this problem. Simply lowering flags to half-staff and sending condolences is not enough. Until this pierces the armored shell of public discussion, we will never solve this problem. We need this to be in the public discussion and hold our elected officials accountable to leverage the resources afforded to them to help impact this problem.
As much as it pains us to write, there will be another mass shooting reported inside the pages of this newspaper. And with the next tragedy, another community will add a piece of its blood-stained fabric to the quilt representing home towns of mass shootings across our nation.
And as Odessa joins Galveston County’s Santa Fe on this gut-wrenching list, we owe it to the victims to not let their deaths fade into the background of history.
• Leonard Woolsey