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Lax Texas Gun Laws Enabled Sutherland Massacre

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Lax Texas Gun Laws Enabled Sutherland Massacre

Handguns turned in from the public as part of the "Gun Turn-in" event where a gift card is given for every firearm turned over to Chicago Police are seen in a box at Universal Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.


A gunman opened fire Sunday at a small Baptist church in the tiny town of Sutherland, Texas, killing at least 26 people and wounding close to 30 more.

The mass shooting taking place just a month after the deadly Las Vegas shooting, where 58 were killed and 500 more injured, joining a long list of mass shootings in the United States each year. According to the Gun Violence Archive database, the Sutherland shooting marks the 307th mass shooting so far in 2017. (The researchers define a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are killed or injured.)

Following the shooting, messages of support and heartbreak, including the predictable “thoughts and prayers” mantra, flooded social media. One organization, however, has remained silent: the National Rifle Association. The gun group’s silence is deafening and revealing, particularly given that Texas’ lax gun control regulations likely aided the gunman in obtaining his firearms.

database by Slate of gun regulations state-by-state gives Texas an “F” rating. Texas currently has no laws requiring background checks for private sales, no regulating of firearm registration and no ban on the purchase of assault weapons. The state does not have any restrictions on magazine capacity, nor does it have any restrictions on firearm ownership for the mentally ill. Texas also allows open carry with a permit and concealed carry on college campuses.

Texas’ relaxed gun control laws are the result of a majority-Republican legislature that shares views with the NRA on guns and gun regulation. Donations from the powerful gun lobby to these Republicans suggest that opposition to any type of gun control came with persistent nudges and bankrolling from the NRA itself.

In total, the NRA has given a combined $73,900 in campaign contributions to members of the Texas state delegation, with an overwhelming majority of the money going to Republican lawmakers. According to Texas Monthly in 2013, 27 out of 33 members of the Texas congressional delegation have received a grade of an A- or higher from the NRA. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz received an A+ from the NRA and has taken about $9,900 in campaign contributions from the organization.

Despite the NRA’s claim that more guns equals safer communities, the statistics of gun violence in the U.S. paint a different picture. The U.S. stands out starkly from other developed countries when it comes to violence; according to the United Nations, the U.S. has 29.7 firearm deaths per 1 million people, the highest rate of any developed country. And within the U.S., the number of gun deaths varies state to state, largely due to the strength or weakness of gun control in each state.

A database from Mother Jones shows a correlation between gun ownership and gun deaths, revealing that states with higher rates of gun ownership see far more gun deaths than states with stricter gun regulations. Texas, which has a gun ownership rate of 35.7 percent higher than the national average of 29.1 percent, has over 3,200 gun deaths per year.

It should be obvious by now that America has a serious, dangerous gun violence problem that cannot be solved by the NRA’s solution of a “good guy with a gun.” While mass shootings briefly bring the topic of gun violence into the public discourse, these events do not make up the majority of gun deaths in the U.S. An analysis from FiveThirtyEight shows that nearly two-thirds of gun deaths are caused by suicides, not mass shootings.

One common denominator among mass shootings is the immense power of the NRA. Despite the persistent calls for tighter gun control laws after each horrific incident, Congress, pressured by the NRA and its enormous lobby, fails each and every time to pass meaningful gun legislation.

Celisa Calacal is a junior writing fellow for AlterNet. She is a senior journalism major and legal studies minor at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. Previously she worked at ThinkProgress and served as an editor for Ithaca College’s student newspaper. Follow her at @celisa_mia.




  1. idamag November 8, 2017

    Maybe we should start evaluating the statistics. Remember when assault weapons were banned? Do we have more gun deaths now or then? Could the push for no gun regulations be a way to arm insurgents against our government? When will it be too late to change things?

    1. FireBaron November 8, 2017

      Excuse me, ids, but that “ban” you talk about addressed specific models by specific manufacturers. Change a minor feature, rebrand it and it is now legal again. So, the most ineffective firearms ban in history was negated the day it became law. Let’s look, rather, at the effectiveness of the bans (however temporary) that came out as a result of the two Kennedy assassinations and the attempted Reagan assassination. Those saw a significant drop in gun violence for the periods they were enforced. Unfortunately, that organization that abets terrorism (You know. The one that Ted Nugent is on the board of.) made sure all of those were overturned or declared unconstitutional.

    2. dpaano November 10, 2017

      If I remember correctly, in California, where we have banned assault weapons and large magazines, our murder rate has decreased significantly. Goes to show that strict gun laws like we have in California DO help when it comes to statistics!

  2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth November 8, 2017

    As tragic as this senseless killing is, the bigger tragedy is that the NRA and the GOP will dismiss this and get to the business of making money. The Koch brothers will continue to fund the GOP, the GOP will get its orders from the NRA, gun laws will be non-existent, or lax at best, and the malignant tumor of godlessness which is sweeping across the red states like a swarm of locusts will continue. More tragedies are likely to occur—particularly with a satanic political entity like the GOP remains in the driver’s seat.

    But let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking that the removal of the GOP in power will solve the problem. Political solutions are a placebo, and give the illusion that change will occur merely based on who’s in control in Congress.

    The “cancer” of irreligion, with the attendant confusion over what the correct standard for edifying the hearts and minds of humanity, will remain, ready to rear its ugly head the moment we relax our moral restraint and descend into a state of contentment and a singular focus on material well-being. Its removal requires something far more powerful and efficacious than secular remedies and policies. Something we’ll all have to get on-board in recognizing this.

    1. dpaano November 10, 2017

      Let’s face it….Abbott is an idiot! Most of the Texas legislators and politicians are idiots! Although I was born there, I refuse to EVER return there (thank God my parents got me out of there when I was 3 months old). I used to be proud to say I was born in Texas…..not so much anymore! I am SO against everything that they stand for, and I feel sorry for the people living in Texas that have to deal with these Republicans, but they have the chance in 2018 to do something about it, and we can only hope!

  3. FireBaron November 8, 2017

    As the NRA encourages free wheeling gun purchases, and some terrorists have committed their acts using guns, then maybe instead of suing the gun manufacturers, families of victims should add the NRA to their suits as willful co-conspirators.

    1. dpaano November 10, 2017

      I agree….unfortunately, they have BIG pocketbooks and I doubt if any one person could afford to sue them for anything, which is pretty sad!

  4. dpaano November 10, 2017

    I was noticing the other day that I watch a lot of crime shows, and 90% or more show shooting deaths, etc. in Texas. Seems Texas leads the nation in crime, and guns are a big part of it! I guess that’s where all the criminals go to do their dirty work!


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