After yet another devastating campus shooting, this time at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., President Barack Obama expressed raw anger and frustration. He has seen this before, offered significant legislation, and has been shut down by the conscienceless suits in the National Rifle Association and its congressional minions.
Obama said thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. In this tie-a-yellow-ribbon/mylar balloon/teddy bear expressive society that often prefers gestures over action, Obama was right.
This nation seems trapped on an endless treadmill of reactivity after mass shootings. Oh, we call for gun control, mental health treatment, and the rest of it, and we still end up in the same place.
This country experienced a school shooting in which 20 children were slaughtered in Connecticut, and that didn’t force changes to loose gun laws. Are we now inoculated from the shock?
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As I heard the reports Thursday from Oregon, I thought of only one thing: My two sons go to college in Oregon and were in class when the shots were fired. I thanked God (thoughts and prayers) that it wasn’t at their school.
Sadly, there are hundreds of relatives in Roseburg who cannot say, “Oh well, at least it wasn’t my kid.”
People have a hard time visualizing things that don’t directly affect them. But if you think this society has functioning gun laws, try this exercise. Throw out the Second Amendment in your head, just for a moment.
Think about your kids. Let’s say they’re students. They are typical kids: They text, they eat junk food, they play sports, they get B minuses, they leave their clothes on the floor and toothpaste in the sink. You love them.
Imagine them sitting in a classroom. Visualize them looking at their professor while he gets his head blown off. No warning. He’s just writing on the overhead projector and lecturing.
Now imagine that the gunman makes your kid stand up and state his religion. The shooter doesn’t like what he says, so he blows your kid’s head off.
Or maybe, in an act of providence, your child witnesses this and manages to run away before that gunman can shoot. He or she is emotionally damaged for life.
Or maybe the gunman shoots your child in the back, and your child winds up in a wheelchair with a colostomy bag. I know. This is so graphic. Upsetting. How could I write something like this? Sorry. It’s not a show. Not a movie.
Let’s say your child dies. You have to arrange a funeral. More mylar balloons, more teddy bears. Friends come. Your eyeballs burn from tears. And you’ll do that for the rest of your life.
In this gun debate, we let ourselves be lulled by talk. Gestures. Promises.
If you’re running the NRA, handing out chump change to your congressman, it’s easy. NRA executives can buy a few people and walk away. We let the NRA do it without consequence.
But if you’re the parent of a kid who was killed in a school, you can’t buy your way out. You can’t walk away.
The rest of us turn our heads again. It’s not our kid. This time.