Once again, the United States has seen a mass shooting take the lives of several innocent people. This shooting, like we have seen far too many times before, took place on a college campus and was committed by a young college student. When a tragedy not dissimilar to the one on the Umpqua Community College campus shook our community nearly two years ago, we were consumed with the inexplicable pain and loss felt due to losing neighbors, classmates, friends and loved ones. We sought answers, demanded action, gathered and mourned together. So when something awful like this affects another community, I believe I speak for many people in the UCSB community when I say we immediately feel connected to what it must be like in Roseburg, Oregon right now, and we send our deepest, most sincere condolences to those affected.
While condolences are the very least I can offer, it is a sign of how huge of a problem gun violence has become that I can offer no further explanation, no new insight and no new data to allow us to predict or explain these mass shootings. While my frustration as someone in an editorial position pales in comparison to the most unimaginable pain felt by those directly affected, there is something to be said about the fact that we have come to a point in American history where the responses to these heinous crimes become, as President Obama put it in his address following the Oregon shooting, routine. My co-editor and I immediately found ourselves at a profound loss on what to say about this most recent shooting. We have come to a point where responses to the loss of life at the hands of gun-carrying American citizens are standardized, uniform. The conversations after each incident are tiredly similar, to the point where our conversations on gun violence are moving in circles. Those in fervent defense of their Second Amendment rights continue to deny these shootings as a sign gun control should be enacted, or at the very least talked about.
When I spoke with John C. Fields, the Executive Director of California’s Rifle and Pistol Association, regarding Barbara Boxer’s Pause for Safety Act, he said of the Isla Vista tragedy, “What happened here was murder by a bad person against a good person, and that’s all it is. It shouldn’t be labeled a shooting per se.” He went on to assert, “We’re opposed to a firearms registration; we think that is too much information being given to the government.” This sentiment is the standard response from those who are clinging to the Second Amendment. However, we have reached a stage in this ongoing issue where we so expect these responses that groups like the NRA no longer feel the need to issue statements on mass shootings. As reported by Mother Jones, and as anyone can plainly see, in the time immediately following the Oregon shooting the NRA’s typically active twitter account offered only a link to their children’s gun safety course, Eddie Eagle. Their Facebook account is less active, but still offers a link to their Eddie Eagle program, posted on Oct. 2.
As reports have come out that the Oregon shooter has mentioned Elliot Rodger by name, we in the UCSB community can sympathize with those in the Roseburg area on an even deeper level. It is awfully troubling that someone would emulate what happened in Isla Vista last May, and even more troubling that another shooting in Florida the day after the incident in Oregon claimed three more lives plus that of the gunman. We are in the midst of a harrowing time in U.S. history, and it is my belief that we cannot allow these shootings, and consequentially our reactions to them, become routine. The discussion on gun control needs to be carried out; registries need to be widely accepted because we have the ability to save lives, and to turn our backs on this this ability would land us on the wrong side of history. It is inexplicably thickskulled to be more concerned about one’s right to carry a weapon than at least be open to having a conversation that could lead to less gun violence.
I wish I could offer more than condolences and an unfortunate albeit sometimes comforting, “we’ve been there before” to those mourning in Oregon, but gun violence in the U.S. has reached an absurd level. I sincerely hope the course is altered very soon, as we cannot afford to let violence continue on such a heightened level in the U.S.