ODESSA, Texas — Carla Byrne still struggles to visit a memorial in Odessa, Texas, nearly two years after a horrific mass shooting that killed her brother.
"It’s hard to even describe in words," Byrne said as she looks at a cross that says "Odessa Strong."
"We were literally in a war zone in our hometown," Byrne recalled.
The Odessa-Midland mass shooting in 2019 killed 7 and injured 25 people. The shooter randomly drove around town shooting men and women. Byrne's brother was killed when the gunman appeared next to his vehicle driving a stolen USPS truck.
"His wife and two children were in the car with him and they are sitting at a stoplight and they actually rolled up to the USPS van, not knowing the monster was sitting in the van," Byrne says.
A bench is located near the memorial with the names of lives lost.
Carla Byrne's story, while tragic, is becoming less and less uncommon in the United States.
There have been more than 1,800 people injured or killed in mass shootings so far in 2021, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
That’s a higher toll than in 2015 or 2018.
Byrne knows all these shootings are difficult to remember and there is a chance you may have forgotten about the mass shooting that changed her life. That sad fact is why she is so perplexed why so little has changed with gun laws nationwide.
Even President Biden has acknowledged how limited his actions on guns have been since taking office.
"I know it's painful and frustrating," President Biden said during remarks at the White House in April following the announcement of limited executive orders that address ghost guns and red flag laws.
While the White House supports efforts in the U.S. Senate to vote on background checks and gun sales in the coming days, congressional aides tell Scripps' National Political Editor Joe St. George that those votes will likely fail if they even take place at all.
Bipartisan negotiations have broken down and Democrats can’t make changes on their own.
60 votes are needed to pass anything consequential regarding guns in the United States Senate.
That means 10 Republicans would have to join 50 Democrats in order for anything to happen and at the moment the votes aren't there
In Texas, a new law allows anyone living there to carry handguns without a license or training starting in September.
Carla says that’s the exact opposite of what politicians promised after he brother’s death.
"It wasn’t their family members, it's names on a bench, that’s all, it means nothing and when it means nothing but names on a bench this is what we see happen," Byrne said.
PASSION ON BOTH SIDES
One reason passing laws regarding guns is so difficult is because passion exists on both sides.
Meet David Amad with Open Carry Texas. A group that has vowed to campaign against any politician Democrat or Republican who advocates for gun control.
"The point is, when a bad guy wants to damage, all the laws in the world aren’t going to stop him," Amad said during an interview.
He believes Americans have actually embraced more guns to protect themselves in recent months, not less.
On average, the FBI processes 8.6 million gun background checks annually.
In 2020, they processed 12.8 million background checks.
He doesn’t believe making it harder to own a gun or restricting what guns can be bought is constitutional.
"Defending yourself and having the equipment to do that is the only bit of common sense that’s going to make a damn bit of difference," Amad said.
"Let me ask you a question, how many times has an existence of a law prevented a crime? The answer is none," Amad said.
As you can tell, David’s passion rivals Carla’s. And that’s what makes this issue so polarizing - and why not much is expected to change anytime soon.