I have had it with hate crime and hate groups in this country. Over 22% of all the hate groups in the world (and there are a 117 of them; you can find them online) are in the U.S., including a few here in Wyoming.

You may be surprised to know that, per capita, the state that ranked No. 1 with hate groups is bucolic Idaho, which also has the seventh-highest number of white residents. California, which most Americans consider to be a bastion of liberals, has 79 hate groups, most of them concentrated around urban areas.

This past spring, there was a school shooting in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, where my son and his family live; I got hysterical. I still get tears in my eyes remembering it. I was calling and emailing my son frantically to make sure my grandchildren were all right. Fortunately, it was not at their school, but at another one.

If I can get that frightened and scared, I can’t imagine the utter misery and desperation of people in a crowd which is under siege by a gunman, or the profound sorrow of those who lose a loved one in such a situation.

As of Aug. 5, there have been 255 mass shootings in the U.S. this year alone, close on the heels of the 268 total such events last year.

There have almost always been hate groups in this country, probably before it was a country. Hate is so strong, and it is so wrong. Blacks, Jews, Muslims and Hispanics are the groups usually in the cross-hairs of some whacked-out shooter, and the shooter is, most of the time, a white man.

It is not unusual, in the history of this world, for white men to fight and kill others. As long ago as the Middle Ages, white men have participated in wars and random killings. I think it may be related to testosterone.

But there are good white men out there who decry these senseless acts. One candidate for the Democratic Party’s slot in the next presidential election left the campaign trail to return to his hometown of El Paso. He is Beto O’Rourke, and listening to him speak about the absolute horror that happened there early this month was enough to bring tears to my eyes.

By a count of male versus female mass shooters, the statistics show that since 1982, male shooters outweigh female shooters by 110 to three. There was a female mass shooter in California last year.

Women are supposed to be the nurturers by their very nature, so the above statistic is not surprising. But men, women and children suffer when such an event takes place.

Stronger gun control laws are usually called for following one of these events, but our national lawmakers have not moved on enacting this legislation. It is then up to the individual state legislatures to make their citizens safer by doing so. And the only problem with this is mass shooters may come from states where gun control laws are weak to states with strong protections for their citizens to do their killing.

All we can do as individual citizens is to stand up and say it can’t happen here in America again.

I wrote earlier this year about choosing to give joy to others after suffering the loss of my nephew. Choose joy, not sorrow. Choose love, not hate. Choose life, not death.

It is up to each of us to stop this senseless killing in every way we can. Support tougher gun laws. Enable mental health facilities to treat – even at no cost – those who have unutterable hatred of their fellow men and women.

If you know someone who spews hate, send love back to him or her. If you know someone who has more guns and rifles than any one person should have, call the police.

It is time to stop hate crimes. It is time to stop mass shootings. It is time to at least like, if not love, one another. Except for Native Americans (and maybe they came from somewhere else, too), we are all descendants of immigrants and slaves who came to this country. Not one of us escaped some kind of persecution, but wholesale slaughter if unforgivable. Always.

It is time to stop the hate.

Kate Missett, a Cheyenne resident and retired writer/editor with printer’s ink in her veins, has lived in Wyoming since 1961. Email: katydidd@bresnan.net.

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