In what has become all too familiar, the country gets to mourn a mass shooting in a school setting. Nine Americans murdered by a well-armed lone gunman who eventually shot and killed himself as well.
This time it’s Roseburg, Ore. The deadly rampage took place at Umpqua Community College last Thursday. It was the 294th mass shooting in the United States this year.
The shooter had 14 weapons either with him or at his house, a bulletproof vest and lots of ammunition. He had no known affiliations to any terrorist organization. He had exposure to the U.S. Army, but was discharged before completing boot camp. Social media postings indicate he had feelings of isolation; there might be warning signs of some sort of mental illness.
And nine families had loved ones ripped from their lives, courtesy of close-range gunfire.
Democrats in Congress have resumed their fight for more gun control; Republicans remain steadfast that such measures won’t work. The American public, knowing federal lawmakers never will agree on anything meaningful in this area, gets to argue amongst itself whether guns kill people, if people with guns kill people, if people with mental illness who have easy access to guns kill people, if registering everybody with documented mental illnesses is preferred over registering people with guns, if psychiatric diagnoses can predict gun violence, if more guns will solve the problem, etc. And those with access to state lawmakers likely will respond with even more Second Amendment Protection Acts to ensure federal overreach doesn’t ever get close to prying a weapon from the warm fingers of an assailant on campus.
If recent history offers any insight, that next school shooting will take place either later this week or early next week.
Did you know that since Dec. 14, 2012, when 20 first-graders and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there have been at least 142 school shootings in this country?
The non-partisan, non-profit organization Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, which is “dedicated to understanding and reducing gun violence in America,” tracks “anytime a firearm is discharged inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds, as documented by the press and confirmed through further inquiries with law enforcement.” The group does not include incidents when guns were discovered on school grounds but were not fired.
At what point does America say enough is enough? An average of 88 Americans are killed with guns each and every day. The U.S. gun murder rate is 20 times higher than that of other developed countries.
And if tackling the entire nation is too much, can Kansas at least do something positive?
Don’t count on it.
Lawmakers in Topeka already have in place new laws to allow most people to carry concealed firearms on college campuses without a permit. Starting July 1, 2017, the four-year exemption universities and colleges had enjoyed from the Personal and Family Protection Act expires. From that point on, guns can’t be prohibited unless security measures such as electronic detectors and safety personnel are in place at every access point to a public building. Lawmakers believed that if the cost-prohibitive measures weren’t taken, then concealed guns could be carried by anybody legally possessing one — no permit required.
Local residents likely recall the “live shooter exercise” recently conducted at Fort Hays State University. Not only were all law enforcement agencies involved, Hays Medical Center practiced its response to an influx of shooting victims.
Time will tell how long it takes before public safety officials have to respond to an actual emergency here. That we even need to be prepared is a crime in and of itself.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry