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Two Shootings, Two Days: The Role Of 8chan, White Nationalism, Gun Proliferation

Flowers and signs at a makeshift memorial after the shooting that left 21 people dead at the Cielo Vista Mall WalMart in El Paso, Texas, on August 5, 2019
Flowers and signs at a makeshift memorial after the shooting that left 21 people dead at the Cielo Vista Mall WalMart in El Paso, Texas, on August 5, 2019

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In the Texas border city of El Paso, a gunman opened fire Saturday morning in a shopping area packed with thousands of people during the busy back-to-school season. The attack killed 22 and wounded more than two dozen, many of them critically.

Hours later in Dayton, Ohio, a gunman wearing body armor and carrying extra magazines opened fire in a popular nightlife area, killing nine and injuring at least 26 people. The attacks came less than a week after a 19-year-old gunman killed three people and injured 13 others at the popular Gilroy Garlic Festival in California before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The El Paso shooting was being investigated as a possible hate crime as authorities worked to confirm whether a racist, anti-immigrant screed posted on 8chan, an imageboard website composed of user-created boards, shortly beforehand was written by the man arrested. 

Earlier this morning, President Trump spoke from the White House about the shootings and suggested earlier on Twitter that a background check bill could be paired with his long-sought effort to toughen the nation’s immigration system. “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said, adding that he had directed the FBI to examine steps to identify and address domestic terrorism. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America,” he said.

Including the two latest attacks, 127 people had been killed in the 2019 shootings.

With files from the Associated Press 


What is 8chan and (how) should it be regulated?

April Glaser, technology writer for Slate who is following the story; she tweets @aprilaser

Erroll Southers, professor in the practice in national and homeland security at USC, where he directs the university’s Safe Communities Institute and its Homegrown Violent Extremism Studies program

Brian Knappenberger, filmmaker whose documentaries include “The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz”, which was nominated for an Oscar in 2014, and “We are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists” in 2012, which focuses on the collective Anonymous; he tweets @knapp

Should President Trump’s rhetoric be blamed?

Nicole Boucher, vice president of Way to Win, a national donor and organizer network that works for progressive causes

Sean T. Walsh, Republican political analyst and partner at Wilson Walsh Consulting in San Francisco; he is a former adviser to California Governors Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger and a former White House staffer for Presidents Reagan and H.W. Bush    

What is California’s “Red Flag” law and how could it work nationally to prevent gun violence?

Adam Winkler, professor of law at UCLA, where his research includes constitutional law and gun policy; he is the author of several books “Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America” (W.W. Norton & Company, 2011)

Alain Stephens, Western correspondent for The Trace, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization covering gun violence in America; he tweets @AlainStephens

What is the profile of a mass shooter?

Jillian Peterson, an assistant professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Hamline University; she’s also the co-founder of The Violence Project, a nonpartisan think tank dedicated to reducing violence in society through research and analysis; She has researched mass shootings dating back to 1966; she tweets @jillkpeterson

Reactions from our Latino community

Pablo Alvarado, co-executive director of the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing; he tweets @pablondlon

Joseph Villela, the director of policy with The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)