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Friday, October 2, 2015

The ricochet of gun violence and the balm of love

I was at school when I saw the news bulletin about the shooter at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. UCC is just about 3 hours south of us, but we are part of the same community college system. Just that morning we had talked about guns on campus in my WR 115 classroom. Meanwhile, the shooter had entered another WR 115 class and interrupted their conversation in a vicious and terrible way.

Shock at a distance is shock nonetheless. As an instructor at a CC, it's hard not to imagine the same thing happening on my campus, even in my classroom. There's one exit and a pair of enormous windows that open on the world. What would I do? How could I protect my students? I know the emergency drill: lock the door turn off the lights, pull the blinds, turn off the projector and get everyone on the floor. But that only works if the shooter is somewhere else.

I've been reading responses to the news, many of which suggest that we need more armed security guards and even armed instructors--unworkable for numerous reasons, not the least of which is the plethora of aging educators who are just as likely to shoot themselves in the foot as protect their charges. Besides, taking out one shooter does just that and no more. Another will rise to take his place.

So, how do we stop this epidemic of gun violence? How do I do something? That's the crux of it, isn't it?  Knowing as we all do that politics and government won't serve, the duty falls to the individual. What can each of us do to keep unhappiness and its frequent companion, mental illness, from deteriorating into an unreasoning rage that takes its revenge on the innocent?

As I look at the parade of killers who've emerged over the past 20 years, I see souls who've been rejected and marginalized, who grow in their anger towards insanity and violence. They are not born this way--or, if they are, they need treatment. I'd like to suggest that each of us has the power, through love and kindness, to salvage lives and turn them towards open-hearted community rather than festering isolation. I can do this in my classroom, on the street, in social media. What about you?


  1. The problem goes much further than ourselves unfortunately. All the love in this world would not help a bi-polar person, and our presence in their live have not the persistence of propaganda, and the incredible malicious influence that comes across the waves.

    We need gun control. What I mean by this is to make the sellers responsible for anything that may happen if they don't follow strict rules for control. You want to buy a gun? I will sell it to you if you meet all the requirements and those are:

    date of birth
    place of birth
    social security #
    Government id with a photograph or birth certificate.
    any and all records from police and other government records.
    Telephone number
    Years living there
    Relative to contact in case of an accident.
    Finger prints and planned use of the gun

    Then they can comeback the following day or after once all the requirements have been satisfied and get their choice. That choice would not include assault weapons of any kind and it would be the only way that both, dealers and buyers would be responsible to follow the law. If you do not show me a permit with your documentation then I won't be selling you a gun.

    It is not a solution but it is a step in the right direction. The ones who wants guns for whatever illegal action they may want to take, will buy from others who can provide them or steal them, it is true. But the price of each and every gun or any other weapon would go up considerably when you cannot walk into a Walmart for instance and get one just as if you were buying a loaf of bread.

    Family and teachers are able to observe who among their students is at risk. Consulting with a professional about either depression or bipolar could be a step in the right direction to help them. It is a great responsibility that we all need to accept. If there is a problem we should not ever ignore it. If we can help then we know we must.

    Do you know that in the States more preschoolers are shot dead each year (82 in 2013) than police officers on the line of duty (27 in 2013) according to figures from Center for Disease Control and Prevention and from the FBI?

    I suspect the forefathers didn't have this in mind when the second amendment was written into our Constitution.

  2. Your response is so full of the truth while recognizing the complexity of the problem. We need to tighten gun control as well as accept our responsibility to the mentally ill. I also think everyone who owns a gun should have to buy liability insurance to ensure that guns are locked up and used responsibly.