Last Friday, in yet another horrifying case of armed violence, a man shot and killed five people in a suburb of Houston, Texas. The incident began after Francisco Oropesa had been shooting his gun in his yard. The noise woke up a six-week-old baby next door and kept it from sleeping. When the baby’s father, Wilson Garcia, approached him to ask him to stop, Oropesa went into his house, came out with an AR-15 style rifle, and went into Garcia’s house, killing his wife, his eight year old son, and three other friends in the house.
When someone from Garcia’s home called 911 to report the gunfire, the police were in no rush to check it out, because, as a county constable said, “I get calls like that all the time.” It turns out that gunfire is so common throughout much of Texas that police don’t treat it as dangerous. They say that as long as someone is “discharging the weapon safely, there’s nothing I can do.” This reality is a byproduct of gun culture in the U.S., where companies make billions in profits producing and selling these deadly guns, and the National Rifle Association (NRA) has a huge political influence.
After the incident, Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted that he was offering a reward for apprehending the killer of “5 illegal immigrants.” In fact, this was an assumption. At least one of the victims was a legal immigrant from Honduras. Governor Abbott is clearly trying to turn the tragedy to his political benefit by blaming undocumented immigrants for gun violence.
Abbott’s tweet reminds us of his complete lack of concern for human life and suffering. It shows his utter disdain for any person of color or migrant, millions of whom he governs in his home state, and it shows a stomach-turning willingness to take a cheap shot at immigrants and their plight. His only concern is to score yet another political point with his anti-immigrant right-wing base. Of course, the Democrats aren’t much better. Biden and the Democrats have doubled down on the same anti-immigrant policies as the Republicans, even if they don’t use the same racist rhetoric.
This tragic incident is a product of the toxic gun culture in the U.S., while Abbot’s tweet is yet another example of politicians taking political advantage of tragedy to support their agenda.