‘I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime’

Adrian Molina

This year there have been more than 35,000 incidents of gun violence across the U.S according to the Gun Violence Archive, with 9,241 deaths and 18,430 injuries. 

Shoppers at an El Paso Walmart became the latest addition to those statistics when a gunman killed 22 on August 3. 

We asked U.S. history teacher Yvonne Chavera to provide some context about gun violence in the U.S. and the shooting in El Paso.

What do you think of the mass shootings occurring around the U.S.

“I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime. To me it’s really scary, and it’s not just the shootings themselves, but the effects it’s having on people. For instance, a couple of days ago there was a motorcycle that backfired in Time Square, and there was footage taken of people just running for their lives, and the fact that it wasn’t even a shooting scares people. It just goes to show how stressed people are, and that’s proof right there.”

Do you think any of these past shootings are connected in any way of why people are starting to commit mass shootings?

“Well this is just my opinion, but I feel that social media has removed the filter. That’s something new to your generation, but that’s something that mine didn’t have. Now I’m not blaming social media, but the culture that has come out of it is that I should be able to say what I want, do what I want, and I’m right and your wrong. So that has kind of attracted people with different ways of thinking. I just think that has increased the amount of hate that is out there.”  

In the El Paso shooting what do you think about his motive?

“I think that recently we Hispanics have been stereotyped into these generalizations that we are rapists, murders and drug dealers. All it takes is for one wrong person, or a group of people that hate and take a hold of that all of us under that, because I think what bothers me the most about El Paso is that people can say that he was after illegal immigrants. But that’s not the case, he was after color and he looked for brown people. And he even took it far enough to go inside and eat and then realize that ‘hey this place has a lot of Mexicans,’ so he actually went back to his car, grabbed his gun, and went back in to shoot people.”

What do you think about how easy it was for him to get an assault rifle at the age of 21

“I don’t agree. You know I watched the news these past couple of days, and there was a report that his mother had actually contacted the police in Allen, Texas a week before the shooting. And she was concerned that her 21-year-old was able to purchase an assault rifle, and the police said it’s perfectly legal. So you can see that even his own mother was concerned about him. And I think back to when there was a time were semi-automatic rifles weren’t allowed from 1994-2004 they weren’t legal. And after 2004 they’ve been used in so many mass shootings. And to be honest if you say yes for guns you’re wrong, and if you say no to guns you’re wrong, so it’s just everyone’s own personal viewpoint. I think mental checks should be required if you want to own a deadly weapon like that. We just need to be more vigilant about stuff like that.”

If you could help change gun violence what would you do differently from everyone else?

“Well I think we need to start the basics, because people are not going to like the idea of gun control. It’s never been a popular topic, and so I think we need to start with the basics. And it’s as simple as having background checks.”