The tragedy in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday night has exposed the urgent need for reform when it comes to the country’s gun laws. Three people were fatally shot in what is believed to be a racially motivated attack, and the lone suspect died after a stand-off with police.
The tragic shooting that took place at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, has sent shockwaves through the Florida community. The shooter was reportedly wearing a mask, gloves, and a tactical vest and had a gun decorated with swastikas.
The gunman, 21-year-old Ryan Palmeter, and his apparent white supremacist beliefs have reignited the debate on gun control and access to firearms, especially among those with mental health issues. GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, who is running for the party’s presidential nomination, addressed a Sunday evening vigil where he was booed for his role in loosening gun laws in the state.
The incident highlights the prevalence of gun violence in the United States. According to Gun Violence Archive, there have been 471 mass shootings so far this year, with over 12,000 intentional deaths (excluding suicides) by gunshot. Just a day before the shooting in Jacksonville, seven people were shot in another mass shooting at a Caribbean festival in Boston.
Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan commented that this is “unacceptable.” She further commented “One shooting is too many, but these mass shootings are truly hard to swallow.”
The Jacksonville shooting has highlighted the stark reality of America’s gun laws. According to the National Rifle Association, there are more guns than people in the United States, and over half of all U.S. households have one of these weapons. Recent gun control initiatives taken by states like California and Connecticut have resulted in fewer firearm deaths, but much more reform is needed to curb the country’s gun problem.
The Jacksonville shooting has brought the issue of gun reform back into the public discourse. If nothing is done to address this issue, more tragedies such as the one in Jacksonville are inevitable. In the words of Councilwoman Pittman: “This doesn’t make any sense. I’m very, very angry right now.”
With information from El Pais