This is a photo of the Empire State Building going dark to honor the people who died in a mass shooting. But it wasn’t taken this past weekend. I remember seeing it and saving it after another mass shooting several months ago. I cannot tell you which mass shooting it was, because there have been so many of them since. There have been 252 mass shootings in the US this year, to be exact. Although according to my google search, that statistic was posted 17 hours ago, so it might have already increased. On Saturday night, we went to bed thinking about the 20 people killed in El Paso and woke up to the 10 people killed in Dayton, Ohio. Two mass shootings in the United States within 24 hours.

The El Paso shooter had a picture of guns forming the word Trump on his Facebook page. He wrote an anti-immigrant manifesto listing “the Hispanic invasion of Texas” as one of his motivations for the massacre. I’m going to quote Beto O’Rourke who I think described the acceleration of white terrorism best. “We’ve had a rise in hate crimes every single one of the last three years during an administration where you’ve had a president who’s called Mexicans ‘rapists’ and ‘criminals,’ though Mexican immigrants commit crimes at a far lower rate than those born here in the country. He is a racist and he stokes racism in this country, and it does not just offend our sensibilities, it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence.”

Trump and his racist rhetoric is a huge problem. That is clear to me. The other problem is the lack of gun control laws in this country.

After the mass shooting in New Zealand, their government passed gun control laws six days later. But over the last couple of days, I am hearing so many Americans blame mental illness. Well, there are mental health problems in other countries and none of them have as many mass shootings as we do. There are also tons of women with mental health issues and I don’t see any of them going on mass shooting sprees. I heard people are blaming video games. Well, Japan plays more video games than anyone and they don’t have a mass shooting problem. Why? Because they don’t have nearly as many guns. The New York Times just released a study that said only Yemen has a higher rate of mass shootings than the United States. Yemen has the world’s 2nd-highest rate of gun ownership after the United States, so… GO FIGURE.

If the problem is this obvious and backed by so much research and we can easily look at how other countries stopped the spread of gun violence within their communities, why can’t we fix this???

Well, this year, the House passed gun control legislation that requires background checks on all gun sales and supports Red Flag laws which seize guns from those who pose a real threat of violence. It’s not everything I think is necessary in gun reform (like banning all assault weapons), but it sounds like a good start. Unfortunately, this bill has been sitting in the Senate for over 200 days, blocked by Mitch McConnell who is preventing it from going to a vote.

Is it really that easy for our government to work against the safety of its own people?

If you’d like to email your Senator to demand this bill go to a vote, here’s the link to a form from Everytown. If you want to get together with members of your community to demand action on gun reform, here’s the link to join Moms Demand.

My heart breaks for everyone in El Paso, everyone in Dayton, every student who has to sit through active shooter drills at school, every person who just wants to go to a concert, a restaurant, a store, a garlic festival without fear of getting gunned down by a radicalized male white supremacist.

I am so sad and scared for our country.