Another shooting anniversary

Candles glowing in the darkLight the candles. Ring the bells. Bring out the photos and say the names. Two years ago today, 9 people were left dead when a young man with many guns and crazy ideas decided to shoot people. The scene this time was at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

In our country we are called on to remember the anniversaries of mass shootings like they are holidays or birthdays. What is an anniversary? Isn’t it supposed to be a celebration of some kind? Instead, families have to wake up in the morning and remember that two years yesterday, their loved one or friend was still alive and going about their daily business. No thoughts that the next day, they would get the phone call telling them that their loved one was murdered by a crazed gunman on a college campus.

It turns out that the shooter left a “manifesto” behind that he wanted law enforcement and others to see. Often shooters like this want the attention after a shooting they commit and like to see themselves in the news. There is definitely something sick about that. But this young man shot and killed himself as also often happens. But he left his crazed and distorted thoughts behind him.

From the article:

… shot himself in the head after he was wounded by police. Authorities found nine guns stashed in his backpack, in a college restroom and at his home.

In the document, the 26-year-old community college student wrote that he is part of a “demonic Hierarchy” and will become a demon when he dies and return “to kill again and again” after possessing someone else.

He makes it clear that he idolizes other mass shooters and says he has studied their methods but faults them for not killing more people or for not killing police officers.

He also paints himself as a “loser,” with nothing to live for and no successes in life.

“My whole life has been one lonely enterprise. One loss after another. And here I am, 26, with no friends, no job, no girlfriend, a virgin,” he wrote.

“But for people like me there is another world, a darker world that welcomes us. For people like us this (is) all that’s left,” he wrote. “My success in Hell is assured.”

Disturbing.

This is an American tragedy.

If we had any common sense we would get to work to do something to keep guns away from people like this. Our leaders lack courage. The public believes that nothing can be done. We get desensitized to the carnage.

The thing is, candles, prayers, thoughts, bells ringing and flowers are just not enough. They won’t bring back the lives lost. We may feel a bit better or we may feel a bit worse after we do something to assuage our guilt and remember an deadly day.

We want action.

I ask you to picture your own child, sister, brother, parent or good friend lying in a pool of blood after being shot by someone who should never have been able to get 9 guns let alone one. And then I ask you to think about what you would do about this?

Your life would be shattered and devastated as were the lives of the victims. Even the shooter’s family can never be the same. The ripple effect of gun violence is wide. We will never know what these victims ( and all shooting victims) would have contributed to society. We have lost their potential and are left with memories and celebrating an anniversary of their deaths.

What does the corporate gun lobby do on these anniversary days?

I’m just asking.

We are better than this.

Remembering:

Treven Taylor Anspach, 20

Rebecka Carnes, 18

Lucero Alcaraz, 19

Lucas Eibel, 18

Jason Johnson, 34

Quinn Cooper, 18

Sarena Dawn Moore, 44

Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, 59

The shooter

Nothing to fear but… guns

fearI can tell that the American public has had #enough!.I wrote my blog post the other day about this and it had more views than ever before. I’m sure the gun extremists are checking it out to make sure I’m not saying anything about taking their guns away. That is their unfounded fear.

What the rest of us fear is the proliferation of guns in our communities. After the summer’s series of mass shootings followed by the live shooting of 2 Virginia journalists while on air, the cumulative effect is that the conversation is changing. In the years I have been working on this issue, I have not seen the intensity and the anger that I now see. I have not seen the media paying such close attention and actually beginning to ask some serious questions that need to be asked. They are using the language of common sense as are many of our political leaders.

Some of the leaders in Roseburg, Oregon, home to the latest mass shooting, have made it clear that their pro-gun and conservative views are anathema to any solutions to our nation’s public health and safety epidemic. In fact, the newspaper’s editor asked that President Obama not come to Roseburg, as he has done when other communities have suffered mass tragedies like this one, to comfort the families. The Mayor has now made it clear, under public pressure and the light shed on this dangerous behavior, that the President is welcome in his city.  The sick underbelly of our unhinged gun culture has been exposed with this latest shooting. It’s been there before but this time, it is not being hidden. The press is talking about it.

Southern Oregon is home to many gun extremists, including their own Sheriff Hanlin who is handling the investigation of the shooting in his community. The problem is that he claimed he would not enforce any federal gun laws passed after the Sandy Hook shooting and has also been part of a group of people who have denied that the Sandy Hook shooting took place. As a result, the Brady Campaign has called for his resignation. 

From the article, linked above, about Southern Oregon:

Mr. Obama plans to visit Roseburg on Friday to meet the grieving families of yet another gun rampage, but many people here are bristling at his renewed call for stricter gun laws. In some ways, the rampage at the college by a 26-year-old student, Christopher Harper-Mercer, has actually tightened the embrace of guns in a rural town where shots at rifle ranges echo off the hills and hunters bag deer and elk through the fall.

Some families touched by the violence and students who fled gunfire said they now feared that the kind of bloodshed seen inside Classroom 15 at Snyder Hall, Umpqua Community College, could happen anywhere. Some said they were planning to buy guns. Others said they would seek concealed-weapons permits. Others, echoing gun advocates’ calls for more weapons on campus, said the college should allow its security guard to carry guns. A few said they thought that stricter gun control laws could have averted the massacre.

Gun extremists such as the shooter’s mother who allegedly posted on social media about guns and gun laws and that her son suffered from Asperger’s syndrome- a high functioning form of Autism are part of that culture. It’s hard to imagine that the shooter didn’t absorb this kind of gun culture. It seems to me that this mother should have understood that her son was not able to be responsible with guns.

Seriously- you can’t make this stuff up. These folks think that the President will push a political agenda- something about gun confiscation or actually trying to do something about gun violence. This nonsense about politicizing the issue of gun violence is ludicrous. Of course, the gun lobby NEVER does this, right?

Wrong. The NRA is famous for trotting out their worn our logic after mass shootings and encouraging more guns instead of fewer. What is it about the gun culture in our country when people go out to buy more guns after a heinous mass shooting? It’s inexplicable and concerning.

The gun lobby in the name of the NRA is always politicizing the gun issue. That is all they do. The NRA is mining names for their data base and is sending out almost daily emails to their list invoking fear and paranoia. The problem with this is they get their names from state hunting license lists, gun show attendees, etc. even if people don’t want to be on their list. I have always said that if anyone wanted to confiscate guns all that is needed is hacking into or demanding the NRA’s list of names to find out where the guns are. Wouldn’t that be karma?

And meanwhile, the carnage and nonsense continues. Two open carriers in Portland, after the Umpqua campus shooting, shut down some Portland area schools. From the article:

Grant High School and nearby Beverly Cleary School were temporarily placed on lockdown Tuesday after police received several reports of two men walking in the area with apparent semi-automatic rifles slung across their chests.

What’s the point? Walking around with guns slung around your chest is just a plain bad idea given what is happening all over America. But never mind, gun nuts believe their rights includes this kind of immature and bullying behavior. And doing it right after a mass shooting in your state is totally irresponsible and potentially dangerous.

Moving along, you may remember my post about puppies and guns. Now, an 8 year old Tennessee girl is dead because an 11 year old neighbor boy purposely shot and killed her with a shotgun he found at home:

An 11-year-old boy in the US state of Tennessee has been held on suspicion of shooting dead an eight-year-old girl in a row over a puppy.

The boy has been charged with first-degree murder as a juvenile.

According to police, he shot neighbour McKayla Dyer on Saturday evening after she refused to let him see her puppy.

In another fatal child shooting case, authorities said on Monday that an 11-year-old boy fatally shot his brother while target shooting in Ohio.

The boys were with two adults, who had three loaded guns on a picnic table. The younger boy picked one up and it fired, killing his 12-year-old brother.

Both tragedies happened just days after a mass shooting at a small town college in Oregon in which nine people were killed.

You just can’t make this stuff up. And yes, in the 2nd incident mentioned adults were present. When will gun owners understand that young kids and guns are a bad combination? What are they thinking? Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult.

Parents are already fearful about where the next school shooting will happen. It looks like we should be more fearful of young children with guns.

There is a serious disconnect with the desires of the American public to do something to stop this daily carnage and what actually happens in Congress. But the pressure is now on. People Magazine got into it, encouraging the public to call their Congress member and ask them to support measures sitting on their desks to expand Brady background checks to all gun sales. That would be HR 3411 or HR 1217. And then they listed all of the names and contact information for the Congress members to make it very easy to call. I’ve never seen this before but I’m happy to know that those of us working on this issue are not alone.

Gun owners are calling for people like themselves who don’t believe in the gun lobby rhetoric, to form their own group and speak up for common sense. Here is just one of several articles I have read after the Umpqua shooting calling for gun owners to get involved:

Not all gun owners agree with the policies of the National Rifle Association. Hunter — and Oregon resident — Lily Raff thinks she’s precisely the kind of person Obama was addressing.

“I think what he’s calling for is probably for gun owners like me, who support some reasonable gun control, to stand up and say, ‘The NRA doesn’t represent us,’ ” Raff tells NPR’s Michel Martin. “We want something to happen here. We want something to change.”

Raff, author of the memoir Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner, has written about her differences with the NRA. After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, Raff wrote columns for the New York Times and The Atlanticcalling on fellow hunters to support stricter gun control measures.

“There’s a whole spectrum of gun owners,” she says, “and I think one of the problems that we have as a country is that there is a very, very narrow view of the gun owner that has a voice.”

This is welcome support. We’ve always known of the wide support for background checks and other gun safety reform measures by gun owners and even NRA members. And we’ve also always known that organizations like the NRA represent a small minority of gun owners and an even smaller minority of Americans.

The American tragedy is that they have “gotten away with murder” for too many years. That is figurative but the way things are going, it is becoming literally true.

Change is in the wind. It’s coming. We can and will save lives going forward and make our country safe from the devastation of gun violence that affects far too many families. We are better than this.