Thursday, October 1, 2015

Enough with these Shooting Rampages

     There was a shooting today.  This one took place in Roseburg, Oregon at Umpqua Community College.  The gunman, 26 year old Chris Harper Mercer, armed with three pistols and a rifle killed 10 people and wounded at least 9 though some reports had it as high as 20.  It was another shocking shooting at a school in the US.  
     We are the only country where these kinds of tragedies happen.  I am not sure what the time between shooting rampages is but these kinds of incidents happen way too frequently.  Is there anyplace else in the world where this kind of thing happens?  I am guessing not otherwise it would be reported here especially on a day like this when we are dealing with yet another shooting rampage and a tragic and shocking loss of life.  
     I was at North Park University where I teach when I heard the news.  I wondered what possesses someone like Chris Harper Mercer to do such a thing.  Why?  Why is this a uniquely American thing?   I left North Park to go to the University of Chicago for a rehearsal of the the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble.  Both campuses are relatively open and thus vulnerable to a similar attack by what I have to classify as a deranged person.  
     On the drive from North Park University to the University of Chicago, I turned on the radio and heard President Obama's passionate reaction to this shooting.  I have to agree with what he said in his remarks.  This is nothing to be partisan about.  The President speaks common sense and as a nation we need to do something about this.  It doesn't matter what you think of the President.  When he is right, he is right.  I think everyone should read the transcript of his speech and consider the wisdom his words.  Here are two paragraphs that sums up his and my reaction to these kinds of shooting rampages.
Earlier this year, I answered a question in an interview by saying, “The United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws — even in the face of repeated mass killings.”  And later that day, there was a mass shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana.  That day!  Somehow this has become routine.  The reporting is routine.  My response here at this podium ends up being routine.  The conversation in the aftermath of it.  We’ve become numb to this. 
This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America.  We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.  When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer.  When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer.  When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities.  We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives.  So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense.
     He is right.  We simply have to do something about this.