Biden, Veronica Escobar speak on two-year anniversary of El Paso shooting

by | Aug 3, 2021 | Gun violence, Politics

President Joe Biden and Texas lawmakers are among those honoring the memories of the 23 victims lost in the 2019 mass shooting in El Paso. 

“To the families of the 23 souls lost on this day two years ago in El Paso, Jill and I send you our love,” Biden wrote in an op-ed in the El Paso Times. “While our losses are not the same as yours, grief is universal.”

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, who has represented El Paso in Congress since 2019, said in a statement she would continue to fight the nation’s gun violence epidemic and confront those who embolden hate and racism. 

“Two years ago, the beautiful border community of El Paso endured a horrific, hate-fueled mass shooting that killed 23 innocent souls, injured 22, and changed our lives forever,” Escobar said. “Today, our hearts remain broken as we remember the victims, survivors, and all those impacted by the deadliest targeted attack against Latinos in modern American history.”

“As El Pasoans heal, and demonstrate time and again their strength and resilience, I am determined to continue honoring the victims and survivors with action and ensuring our nation never forgets this tragedy,” she said. 

In a letter to supporters, Beto O’Rourke, who represented the El Paso district prior to Escobar, connected the shooting to the white supremacy movement that was emboldened by President Trump, Gov. Greg Abbott, and other Texas Republicans. 

“It’s tempting for some to chalk the El Paso killings up to mental illness, violent video games, or lack of religion (Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick blamed them on all three),” O’Rourke wrote. “That would allow us to ‘move on,’ and absolve us of responsibility. But it should be clear to us that the Walmart shooting is an example of the white supremacist terrorism that is more prevalent in this country today than at any time since the last era of Jim Crow.”

Governor Abbott released a statement on Tuesday as well, honoring the victims of the shooting and touting legislation passed during the regular session that increased penalties for lying during a federal background check. 

“We also appropriated funding to promote the statewide safe gun storage campaign through 2023,” Abbott said. “It’s a good start, one that we all look forward to building on each session with the legislature.”

No legislation to restrict firearm access was passed during the regular session. In fact, Republicans did the opposite and passed permitless carry, allowing Texans to carry a handgun without a license or training. That law goes into effect on Sept. 1. 

In a statement, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said the people of El Paso and Texas deserve better than Greg Abbott, who Hinojosa said continues to scapegoat immigrants and fan the flames of hate. 

“El Pasoans continue to be an example of resilience for our nation,” Hinojosa said. “Yet two years later, we are no closer to ending the gun violence epidemic that remains a scourge across our country — and Republican politicians continue to peddle the same racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric that led directly to this attack.”

“Through the first part of 2021, gunfire killed more than 8,100 people in the United States, with violence in Texas, Georgia, and Illinois bringing the number of mass shootings to nearly 300 so far this year,” Hinojosa continued. “But as gun violence continues to rise in Texas, we are heading in the wrong direction with Republicans’ reckless permitless carry legislation about to become law in September.”

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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