In Thousand Oaks, CA, late Wednesday night, 12 people were killed in a mass shooting in a country western dance hall called the Borderline Bar & Grill. The 12 fatalities included Sgt. Ron Helus, an officer who was shot when approaching the scene, and the gunman. The gunman, dressed all in black, walked into the Borderline and opened fire. The Ventura County sheriff’s department said 22 others are known to have been injured in addition to the 12 fatalities.
The gunman was identified as Ian David Long, the New York Times reports. Long is a 28-year-old from Newbury Park, CA who had served in the Marine Corps. When confronted by authorities, Long did not run, but took his own life in the bar.
The bar was frequented by college students and allowed people under 21 to enter, so the venue was frequently attended to by cops and firefighters, especially on Wednesday nights–a weekly college night.
The deputies had interacted with Long a number times in the past few years. In April, there was a reported disturbance in his home. Due to Long's history as a marine, the reported disturbance prompted the investigation of a health care specialist to talk to long about the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, but it was found that Long was not at risk for harming himself or others and therefore could not be involuntarily hospitalized.
The gun Long used was legal and he was reported by a witness to have exercised it with precision. “He knew what he was doing,” Teyler Whittler, a witness, told the New York Times. “He had perfect form.”
The motive of Long’s attack is so far unknown, but it echoes melancholic memories of other attacks we have seen the last few years, sparking further discussion around issues of gun control.
Because of the widely normalized use of guns, the FBI previously defined apublic mass shootingas a single attack in a public place which four or more victims are killed. In 2013, Barack Obama lowered the definitive number to 3.
Mother Jones has been documenting gun violence statistics and public mass shootings, according to the FBI’s definition, since 1982. According to the Mother Jones’ database regarding public mass shootings, there have been 107 mass shootings in the United States since 1982. Since 2010, there have 55 recorded mass shootings. What that means is 50% of public mass shootings in the last 36 years, have occurred in the 6 years alone. Between 2016 to the present, there have been 29 public mass shootings – that’s over 25% of the recorded shootings over the last 36 years. In 2018 alone, there have been 12 mass shootings, and the year is not over.
According to the Mother Jones data, most of the shooters between 1982 and 2012 obtained their weapons legally. Further statistics have yet to be analyzed in recent years.
What is certain is that the list of citizens affected by such violent phenomenon continues to grow at an accelerated rate never seen before in history. Gun violence in the 21st century is a signature point of contention for Americans. But at this point, it should be obvious that we can’t afford to continue to ignore it.
You can take action by learning about gun control from organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety.
Top image: March For Our Lives protest by Fibonacci Blue/Flickr Creative Commons
Mia X. Perez is a creative writer and currently studies at NYC's The New School. You can find her published poetry in The Grief Diaries, an online literary journal. You can follow her Instagram @mia.xochitl or email her at email@example.com.