The story of the Odessa, Texas mass shooting has become a sadly familiar one. A deranged man, who had just been fired from his job, was stopped by police for failing to signal when shifting lanes.
Instead of having a nice conversation with the police officer, the man started shooting. He took off on a ten-mile chase, firing at anyone he could. Seven people dead and 25 wounded later, the shooter was shot and killed behind a movie theater.
Also sadly familiar has been the reaction of certain Democratic candidates, reiterating their calls for “common-sense gun safety laws.” However, Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke has pushed the envelope on the issue. He has demanded “mandatory assault weapon buybacks,” which translates to confiscation of AR-15s and semiautomatic AK-47s with a sweetener that the government will exchange them for a little bit of money.
Beto also dropped one of his famous F-bombs live on CNN when asked about the spate of mass gun killings in Americans. “This is f—ed up,” he said. The full word went out over the air when the interview was live, It has been bleeped out in subsequent airings.
Many people chastised Beto for using profanity on the air. The candidate was not in the mood to apologize. He responded on Twitter. “Profanity is not the f-bomb. What is profane is a 17 month-old baby being shot in the face.” Beto was referring to Anderson Davis, who was among the injured, has been treated and is expected to make a full recovery.
The t-shirt in question contains the phrase that Beto made famous written six times, with the added phrase “End Gun Violence Now” and then “Beto for America.” The shirt comes in unisex and women’s variety and all sizes. The website that is selling the t-shirts claims that “100% of the proceeds from the sale of this item will be shared equally between Mom’s Demand Action and March for Our Lives.
Beto also doubled down on his plan to confiscate firearms he has termed “assault weapons” and “weapons of war.”
“I was asked how I’d address people’s fears that we will take away their assault rifles. I want to be clear: That’s exactly what we’re going to do. Americans who own AR-15s and AK-47s will have to sell their assault weapons. All of them.”
In the meantime, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, has offered a reality check for people who think that more gun laws would prevent mass shootings such as the one that happened in Odessa.
The shooter had failed a background check to purchase a firearm previously He did not undergo a background check to obtain the weapon that he used in the mass shooting spree in Odessa. Translated, that means that he acquired the firearm illegally. The government did not have a record of his owning a weapon, which means that Beto’s confiscation scheme would not have worked either.
The shooter had a criminal record and was known to have mental health issues. However, even a Red Flag law might not have worked either unless a friend or family member knew he had a gun and reported it to the authorities. Clearly, as USA Today noted, the man had serious mental health issues.
In an interview with the Associated Press, neighbor Rocio Gutierrez said the shooter was ‘a violent, aggressive person. “Gutierrez said the man would shoot rabbits and other animals at all hours of the night. We were afraid of him because you could tell what kind of person he was just by looking at him,’” Gutierrez told the news agency. “He was not nice, he was not friendly, he was not polite.”
President Trump has proposed that people like the Odessa shooter, judged to be a danger to themselves and others, be institutionalized so that their mental health issues could be addressed before they manifest in a shooting spree. The idea also might help to address the epidemic of homelessness as well.
Some mental health professionals prefer that people like the Odessa shooter be treated in a “community setting” rather than in a traditional mental institution.
Most agree though that people with mental illness are not being treated adequately and that rectifying that state of affairs might work better to tamp down on gun violence than gun control laws.