On Saturday, Aug. 31, the news broke that an unidentified gunman went on shooting spree in West Texas. The assailant, who fired at will from his vehicle and a stolen mail truck, killed seven people and injured at least 21 others before being gunned down by police in the parking lot of a movie theater. At this time, no motive has been identified for the attack, according to CNN. If you want to make a difference, here’s how to help West Texas shooting victims as the community recovers in the aftermath of the attack.
According to CNN, the shooting started after a couple of Texas Department of Public Safety troopers tried to pull over the perpetrator for a minor traffic infraction. At that point, the driver of the car reportedly began shooting at law enforcement before driving between the towns of Odessa and Midland, Texas, where he continued to randomly open fire before hijacking a mail truck. Per Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke, three officers were among the 21 who were injured during the shootout, which ended after the police gunned down the shooter in the parking lot of the Cinergy movie theater.
Considering that the West Texas shooting comes just four weeks after the tragedies in nearby El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, the recent attack has once again spurred politicians and citizens alike to call for gun control legislation. The president took to Twitter to reveal that he'd been briefed on the shooting, simply writing, "Great job by Texas Law Enforcement and First Responders in handling the terrible shooting tragedy yesterday. Thank you also to the FBI, @GregAbbott_TX and all others. A very tough and sad situation!"
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement, "The state of Texas and the Department of Public Safety are working closely with local law enforcement to provide resources as needed and deliver justice for this heinous attack."
He continued, "We will not allow the Lone Star State to be overrun by hatred and violence. We will unite, as Texans always do, to respond to this tragedy. We offer our unwavering support to the victims, their families, and all the people of Midland and Odessa."
While it might feel like there's not much that a regular citizen can do other than share thoughts and prayers in the aftermath of the tragedy, there are several ways that you can get involved and make a difference.
Donate Blood and Money To The Local Red Cross Chapter.
Since a number of victims were admitted to the hospital, which included a child under the age of 2 and at least seven people in critical condition, giving blood is crucial during this time. You can also donate money by going to the Red Cross website and choosing to give to The American Red Cross of Central & South Texas, which serves both of the affected areas.
Call Your Elected Representatives
It's a matter of personal preference how soon you want to talk about gun control reform after a tragedy like the West Texas shooting. However, if you do decide that you want to push for change, I'd recommend checking out your local representative in The United States House of Representatives and in the Senate and giving them a call. While the president and his daughter Ivanka Trump took to Twitter to call for the implementation of Red Flag laws/Extreme Risk Protection Orders and a bipartisan bill for "stronger background checks" following the devastating attacks in El Paso and Dayton, Trump has since dialed back his calls for reform and put the issue on the back burner. Calling your local representative will let them know that the problem of mass shootings is definitely on their constituents' minds.
Educate Yourself on Gun Control Reform and Vote For Politicians Who Share Your Views
In addition to educating yourself on the proposed legislation, voting is the most important action that you can take. For example, the House of Representatives passed a bill back in February that required background checks before firearms could be exchanged between two individuals. However, the Senate has not voted on the bill yet. If gun control reform is important to you, you can make your voice heard by voting for politicians who support your stance.
Unfortunately, the number of mass shootings is on the rise in 2019, but these are just a few ways that you can help the victims of the west Texas shooting and make your voice heard when it comes to comprehensive gun legislation reform.