On Sunday, Nov. 5, a gunman entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherlands Springs, Texas and killed 26 people and injured 20.
He was then chased down and shot twice in the leg and torso by local residents when he tried to escape in his Ford Explorer. He proceeded to lose control and crash after a 10-mile pursuit, then took his own life.
The devastation caused to the community has left an impact. However, the community in Sutherland Springs is pushing forward to fix the wounds caused by this shooting.
Church officials said that Reverend Frank Pomeroy has proposed to demolish the church and transform the grounds into a memorial garden to remember the victims.
Pomeroy lost his own 14-year-old daughter that morning, and said that the once cozy white church is now “a very painful setting.” A new church will be constructed on nearby property in accordance with the pastor’s proposal.
Widespread calls for gun control have dominated news coverage following this shooting as well as the Las Vegas massacre, which occurred slightly over a month ago.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill banning the sale of bump stocks in the days after the shooting in Las Vegas, but it has not garnered enough bipartisan support in Congress despite a handful of Republicans speaking out against bump stocks.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said on Tuesday that he believes, “that there’s an opportunity here to work together on a bipartisan basis to come up with a way to address this solution to a very real problem.”
Cornyn further said, “There’s enormous problems with the background check system. That’s one of the areas of consensus on a very contentious topic.” Cornyn has introduced a bill intending on incentivizing federal agencies to upload records of convicted criminals into the background check database in order to prevent criminals from obtaining a weapon legally.
The Texas church shooter was able to purchase a gun legally despite being convicted of domestic violence in the past, slipping through the background check system.
Two of the five deadliest mass shootings in the United States occurred within the past 35 days and both are now on the top ten list, pushing the infamous 1999 Columbine school shooting off. According to a Business Insider article published on Nov. 6, there have been 307 mass shootings in 2017 so far. “To put this in perspective,” the article said, “we are 310 days into the year, which means the U.S. has had nearly as many mass shootings as days in 2017.” The Gun Violence Archive, the organization that gathers this data, defines a mass shooting as, “A single incident in which four or more people, not including the shooter, are ‘shot and/or killed’ in ‘the same general time and location.’”
Anyone who wishes to help those affected by the shooting can donate directly to the church’s website or the GoFundMe page of the Holcombe family who lost four family members in the shooting.
Alexander Shakhazizian is a fourth-year student majoring in political science with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at AS823512@wcupa.edu.