It was an average Saturday, on May 14 in Buffalo, New York, but at 2:30 in the afternoon, the unthinkable happened. A white male, wearing protective military gear, attacked a supermarket with an AR-15 rifle he had legally purchased. He killed 10 people, all African Americans, and injured 3 more. The shooter even live-streamed the incident on Twitch, where he is shown to avoid shooting white people, only aiming at black people.
The shooter was arrested shortly after the incident, and identified as 18-year-old Payton Gendron, from Conklin, New York. By the age of 17 he had already threatened a high school, which led to police being involved, and a mental evaluation he took at a nearby hospital. He pleaded not guilty to the charges of first-degree murder, despite having live-streamed the whole event.
There are many proposed reasons for why this happened. The perpetrator believed in the replacement theory, a white supremacist ideology which states that non-white immigrants are being let into America to replace the political power of America. This racist theory led the shooter to believe that it was his duty as a citizen of America, to purge it of its non white citizens. This is the reason he drove over 200 miles to target the predominantly black town.
The shooter is believed to have taken inspiration from a previous mass shooting. In 2019, Christchurch, New Zealand was brutally attacked in a mass shooting that resulted in 50 dead. This shooting was split into two locations, at the Masjid Al Noor mosque, and the Linwood mosque.
Another reason this tragedy occured, is because of loose gun restriction laws. In New York residents do not need a permit to purchase rifles. This means that it was not difficult for the shooter to get his hands on a gun, and legally at that. Laws that allow anyone to purchase and possess guns without a permit can allow guns to fall into the wrong hands, like it did in this situation. Sometimes, a simple background check is not enough. The effect of these loose gun restriction laws is shown clearly in the number of mass shootings in America.
198. This is the number of mass shootings that have occurred in America so far in 2022, including the mass shooting in Buffalo. This staggering statistic brings light to a problem deeply rooted in America’s history. The number of mass shootings have been on a rise in America for the last couple of years, according to npr.org. 2019 saw 417 mass shootings, an already incredibly large number. The next year, 2020, had 611 mass shootings, despite the raging pandemic. 2021 had 693 mass shootings, and 2022 has 198 mass shootings so far, a number that will likely continue to grow, following the trend the previous couple of years have set.
The issue of mass shootings appears to be a uniquely American crisis. According to research done by CNN, between 2009 and 2018, America had the leading number of school shootings, with a total of 288. However, Mexico, who had the next largest number of school shootings in that time period, only had 8 shootings, 36 times less than America.
Overall, the mass shooting at Buffalo was a devastating and racially motivated hate crime that should never have been allowed to happen. It sheds light on the mistakes America has made in gun restriction laws, and reveals the staggering number of shootings in America, especially compared to other countries. This is a problem we all need to know more about, and one we have to start taking steps to fix.