August 5, 2019 – The Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC grieves with the communities of El Paso and Dayton following this weekend’s mass murders. That such crimes have become commonplace in our American society is a tragedy and we call on government at every level to take action without delay.
While the motivations behind the murders in Dayton are still being investigated, we are thankful that the investigators in El Paso are treating this as an act of domestic terrorism and that the prosecutors are currently considering both federal hate crime and federal gun charges against the perpetrator.
The suspect in El Paso issued a manifesto in which he claimed his attack is a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” These actions must be tied to the larger societal rise of white supremacy. The Center for Extremism reported that 78 percent of extremist-related murders in 2018 were motivated by white supremacy and, over the past 10 years, more than half of all extremist-related murders have been committed by white supremacists.
It is incumbent on each of us to continue to stand against hate and the rise of white supremacy and advance the values of a pluralistic society where people of various races, religions, ethnicities, and national origins can live together in community.
Finally, we note that firearms were not only used in both mass murders this past weekend, but were responsible for 84 percent of extremist murders last year. It is past time for our Federal and State governments to enact common sense gun safety legislation to keep guns away from extremists and others that would commit such atrocities.