Mass Shooting In Hesston, Kansas Leaves Four Dead, 14 Wounded
Yesterday evening, a shooter opened fire at an office building in Hesston, Kansas, leaving three dead and 14 injured. The shooter, Cedric Ford, was an employee at Excel Industries where the shooting took place. The details of this case are still developing, but by one count, yesterday’s attack—which came just days after another mass shooting in Kalamazoo, Michigan—marked the 33rd mass shooting in the United States this year. And mass shootings, like the one carried out by Ford, are becoming more common in the United States: Research from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that the rate of mass shootings in the U.S. has tripled since 2011. In fact, just this afternoon yet another mass shooting occurred in Washington state.
Ford, who carried out yesterday’s shooting, was served with a restraining order aimed at preventing him from contacting his live-in girlfriend who submitted a request for a protection order earlier this month. He also had a criminal record that involved a number of felony convictions, which would mean he was prohibited from owning a gun. While we don’t know about the motive for yesterday’s shooting, there is a significant connection between mass shooting incidents and domestic violence: in 57 percent of mass shootings that occurred between 2009 and 2015 were related to domestic or family violence, according to analysis by Everytown for Gun Safety.
There are steps we can take to help keep guns out of dangerous hands. Common sense steps like requiring a background check for all gun sales, barring all convicted abusers, stalkers, and people subject to related restraining orders from possessing guns, ensuring that abusers surrender any firearms once they become prohibited, and providing all records of prohibited abusers to the federal background check system are just a few measures that would make it harder for domestic abusers to get their hands on guns.
The simple fact is lax gun laws are associated with higher rates of gun violence, but too many elected officials nationwide are pushing to weaken gun laws at the insistence of the National Rifle Association. Kansas has some of the laxest gun laws in the country: the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and gave it an “F” rating in a state-by-state analysis in 2015. And last year Gov. Brownback signed a “constitutional carry” law that allows adults to carry concealed weapons without permit as long as they are not otherwise prohibited from having a firearm under state or federal law. And today, rather than take action that acknowledges America’s gun violence epidemic in light of the violence in Hesston, the Republican-led House of Representatives actually voted for legislation that would erode laws we have in place to make sure that people transport guns safely.
If you thought that the Republican candidates taking the stage at last night’s GOP presidential debate would acknowledge the shooting, think again: the GOP candidates didn’t mention the shooting in Hesston at all or discuss how they would address the issue of gun violence. None of the remaining Republican candidates have expressed support for any gun safety measures, which is perhaps unsurprising given the fact that they have received a total of $267,000 from pro-gun groups.
BOTTOM LINE: Yesterday’s shooting was another stark reminder of the problem of gun violence in our country. While it is impossible to ensure that no gun ever falls into dangerous hands, more must be done to ensure that incidents like yesterday’s shooting do not become normal.
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