|Shooting at mall in Allen, Texas|
Many Americans probably awakened today with their minds on this question: What is it going to take for us, as a nation, to finally demand action against gun violence? The answer might go something like this: If we aren't going to do it now, we likely will never do it. That's because we just passed a period of roughly one week when the carnage reached almost indescribable levels, punctuated by a mass shooting late Saturday afternoon at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas, that left eight people dead and seven wounded, three in critical condition. Here is how The New York Times described the incident:
A gunman opened fire at a crowded mall outside Dallas on Saturday, killing at least eight people and injuring at least seven before a police officer killed him, the authorities said, turning a busy afternoon of shopping into a chaotic and tragic scene.
At a news conference Saturday night, Brian E. Harvey, the chief of police in Allen, Texas, did not identify a gunman but said the person acted alone. A federal law-enforcement official on Sunday identified the gunman as Mauricio Garcia, 33.
The gunman may have espoused white supremacist ideology, according to two law enforcement officials, but it was not yet known if the shooting was an act of domestic terrorism.
Chief Harvey said that during the shooting, a police officer, who was on an unrelated assignment at the mall, heard gunfire, rushed toward it and killed the gunman. . . .
A spokesman for Medical City Healthcare, which was treating several victims at three trauma facilities, said the ages of the injured ranged from 5 to 61.
The gunfire erupted around 3:30 p.m. at the Allen Premium Outlets as throngs of shoppers filled the outdoor mall, which is about 25 miles north of Dallas and has more than 120 stores. Videos circulating on social media show people dashing for shelter or running through a parking lot as loud popping noises can be heard in the background.
The shooting was particularly horrifying when put in context of what had happened in roughly the previous seven days. Here's how The New York Times summarizes:
Saturday’s attack is the second-deadliest shooting of the year, after the Monterey Park, Calif., massacre in which a gunman killed 11 people in a ballroom on Jan. 21.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, a database of shootings in the United States, there have been 199 “mass shootings,” which it defines as the shooting of at least four people, in 2023. There was a particularly deadly spate of large-scale shootings this past week.
On Monday, a registered sex offender fatally shot six people, including his wife and three of her children, near Tulsa, Okla., before turning the gun on himself.
Some people, it turns out, have grown used to the idea of hearing gunshots in crowded, public places:
In Allen, Texas, witnesses described a familiar scene of pandemonium as gunfire erupted.
Geoffrey Keaton was having lunch with his 16-year-old daughter at Fatburger in the outlet mall when they heard gunshots.
“I immediately knew,” Mr. Keaton said. “I got my baby girl under the counter to shield her, and then they got louder, like he was right there.”
Mr. Keaton said the restaurant’s manager allowed customers to hide in the back, where they were able to exit through a rear door and run to their cars.
Kaleo Palakiko, 36, was shopping with his parents for an upcoming vacation when they saw people running outside.
“It was just kind of chaotic for a second. Then when someone said, ‘shooter,’ we all ran to the back of the store,” Mr. Palakiko said. “As Americans, we’re used to this, because everyone knew exactly what to do.”
Mr. Palakiko and his parents hid in a storeroom for about 45 minutes before they were released by police and walked out with their hands in the air. Mr. Palakiko said they walked by stores with shattered window panes.
The word "grotesque" comes to my mind as I read The Times account. This is how a professional describes an issue that has gripped our nation, and caused massive bloodshed, for far too long:
“A house, a doctors’ office, and now a mall,” he said. “These horrific tragedies are occurring with increasing regularity and it’s clear there’s no place in this country where Americans are safe from gun violence. But this will continue to be our reality unless and until the U.S. changes its relationship with guns and our lawmakers finally answer to the American people, not the gun lobby.”