With very little actually known about the motives and plan of the latest U.S. mass shooter, both the Right and the Left have rushed in to cast the small-town Texas tragedy as evidence for their respective political agendas — paying little attention to the deeper cultural roots of this species of violence.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – With little more than a month having passed since the Las Vegas massacre, the United States has suffered yet another mass shooting, this time in Texas when the First Baptist Church in the small town of Sutherland Springs was attacked during a Sunday morning service, claiming the lives of at least 26 and injuring at least 20 more. The victims, ranging in age from 72 to as young as five, were allegedly gunned down by 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, who is now deceased following a brief pursuit by police. Some reports have suggested that the shooting was derailed by the appearance of an unidentified gun owner who forced Kelley to flee the scene.
Kelley was later revealed to have been a former member of the U.S. Air Force stationed at Holloman Air Force base in New Mexico. He had been dishonorably discharged in 2014 after he was court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his wife and child. His history of domestic violence led him to be denied a “right to carry” permit by the state of Texas. He had worked as a security guard for a local waterpark during the summer.
Authorities have stated that Kelley had no links to any terrorist groups. Texas governor Greg Abbott told Fox & Friends:
I don’t think the church was just randomly attacked. I think there was a reason why the shooter chose this church.”
Abbott may be correct, as local authorities have noted that the suspect’s in-laws were occasional attendees of the church where the shooting occurred. However, the link has yet to be confirmed and a motive for the horrendous crime has yet to be found.
However, the lack of a clear motive has done little to deter wild speculations regarding Kelley’s alleged motives for opening fire in a small church. Before credible information was released regarding Kelley’s background, numerous attempts were made – largely by conservative bloggers – to link the shooter to Antifa, as the group Refuse Fascism had announced that this past weekend would be the sight of numerous demonstrations nationwide protesting the Trump administration. The coincidental timing, along with the killer’s decision to dress in all black during the shooting, was used as evidence to link Kelley with Antifa by several notable “alt-right” figures popular on the internet, such as Alex Jones and Mike Cernovich.
Antifa killer attacks Texas church killing 26 fulfilling the groups dream for violent revolutionary action! https://t.co/wBfO4A6tYX
— Alex Jones (@RealAlexJones) November 6, 2017
Others asserted that Kelley was a recent Muslim convert, citing the fact that the recent mass shooting occurred on the anniversary of the Fort Hood shooting, which also occurred in Texas. Proponents of the theory claimed that Kelley’s name following conversion was Samir Al-Hajeeda, the same name that had been erroneously linked to Las Vegas massacre gunman Stephen Paddock.
Samir Al-Hajeeda was also the name they used on the Vegas shooter.
— Jim Pennington (@jim_pennington) November 6, 2017
Still others took the opportunity – as is custom in the event of mass shootings – to push for stricter gun control measures in the tragedy’s immediate wake. Politicians, such as Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), demanded that Congress pass new gun control measures after the shooting:
Enough is enough. Now is the time for commonsense gun violence prevention steps. Congressional complicity must end.
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) November 5, 2017
The New York Times created a countdown asking how soon after the shooting could the gun control issue be raised:
— The Hill (@thehill) November 6, 2017
The latter was a reference to President Trump’s comments that questions regarding gun control were coming “a little bit soon” after the shooting had taken place.
Watch | Trump on Texas shooting: ‘This isn’t a guns situation’
However, gun control advocates have not addressed the fact that Kelley was unable to own or buy a firearm legally under existing gun laws, suggesting that he obtained the guns he used in the shooting illegally. Thus, the event was unlikely to have been deterred by stronger gun laws. In addition, gun control advocates have not mentioned the fact that several reports cite an unidentified gun owner living nearby who intervened and caused the shooter to flee, potentially saving dozens of lives.
Watch | Local KSAT report on local response to shooter
Ultimately, this latest shooting – like the Las Vegas massacre before it – is being used as another opportunity by the divisive elements on both the left and the right to push specific and often factually inaccurate agendas. Sadly, until other contributing factors to mass shootings – such as the underlying cultural adoration of violence in the U.S., as well as the government’s refusal to revise its homicidal foreign policy – are addressed, these massacres will be an increasingly common reality in the United States of America.
As LA Times reports, Of the five deadliest shootings in US history, three came in the last two years, two in the last two months:
LA Times: Of the five deadliest shootings in US history, three came in the last two years, two in the last two months pic.twitter.com/TQFUiyTwGp
— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) November 6, 2017
Top photo | Law enforcement officials work at the scene of a fatal shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)