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From Sandy Hook To Umpqua

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 6/10/2015 Rev. Peter E. Bauer
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' From Sandy Hook To Umpqua "
Rev. Peter E. Bauer
Three years ago, this December, the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT occurred. Adam Lanza shot twenty children and six staff members. He also shot his mother at their home. The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School greatly affected the country, particularly as the majority of the victims were young children.
We have now witnessed this horrific shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Or. Once again, a shooting at another school, this time a college instead of a grade school.
The Sandy Hook assailant was a young man suffering from emotional, psychological problems. His mother took him to the shooting range and he was familiar with weapons.
The Umpqua assailant, Chris Harper Mercer, was a 26 year old man who attended Umpqua Community College. He also had a great familiarity with weapons and appeared to have an anti-religious bias. He shot and killed 10 students as well as his teacher, wounding seven people. He asked his victims what religion they were before he shot them.
The shock regarding this event underlines the observation that people are vulnerable to active shooter violence. We have seen people get killed at movie theatres, at churches and at schools.
How can we stop this epidemic of mass shooting?
These shooters are typically described as being young, male, Caucasian and are indicating that they feel unhappy, alienated and that their lives are not productive. Chris Harper Mercer wrote on his Facebook page how unhappy he was that he didn't have a girlfriend.
Another challenge is that, in the case of Chris Harper Mercer, his entire arsenal of weapons was purchased legally. This phenomenon underlines the limitations of trying to use solely background checks in regulating the sale of guns.
According to Center for Disease Control, the number of deaths due to suicide was 41,149 deaths per 100,000 population 13.0, cause of death rank: 10. The number of deaths due to firearm suicides was 21,175, deaths per 100,000 population 6.7 ( Source Deaths: Final Data for 2013, Table 18)
This data really argues that regarding prevention of active shooter violence, a multi-prong approach is needed. The sale of guns should be prohibited to those persons who have a history of mental health disorders. Mental Health providers need to aggressively pursue suicide management and safety plans that also include securing weapons from those who are suffering from mental health disorders. The policy of campus open-carry of weapons needs to be revisited. This is not a well -thought out policy. This policy places students and faculty at risk for harm. More communities need to embark on gun buyback programs in order to reduce the number of available guns on the street.
We still see the unfortunate tragic aftermath of emotionally and psychologically impaired people purchasing weapons and then unleashing their anger at innocent bystanders.
As a country, we advocate and support laws governing motor vehicle licenses so that people can have the privilege of driving.
Why can't we have better regulation regarding the sale of firearms so that responsible law-abiding citizens can have their right to bear arms, and we can provide safeguards so that criminals and mentally unstable people will not have access to firearms?
Oregon Governor Kate Brown stated:
"that we need to move away from fear and move towards love"
I agree, but we need to do something more than just talk about this aspiration.
If we don't do anything significant regarding changing the easy access to firearms, we will end up witnessing more mass shooting tragedies.
We can continue, as Pink Floyd, would say to believe
"I have become comfortably numb "or we can choose to believe in love and responsible action.
May we be wise in our decision.

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