Another Mass Shooting Happened – What Now?

by Taia Handlin


Thursday morning, at least ten people were killed  and several more wounded in a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The shooter was a 26-year-old male student who, according to Slate, died in a firefight with police.

This is old news. Everyone in America knows it is old news. President Obama reminded us in his speech yesterday  that this is old news. That this situation, his own response, the rest of the country’s response, all of it is “routine.” “We’ve become numb to this” was Obama’s refrain.

 Obama press speech

Predicting the inevitable response from the not just the far-right but moderates and even some liberals, that “Obama politicized this issue,” Obama sharply responded that it should be politicized. That it is a collective “political choice” to allow these tragedies to occur and that collectively, America is willfully ignorant of the connection between gun control and gun violence.

 Obama speech

Obama speech

To decry these events as routine is not just rhetoric: since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, there have been 142 school shootings alone.  Mother Jones has a detailed guide  to the history and demographics of other types of gun violence in America.

People mourn the victims, pray for the families, some but not nearly enough citizens and politicians call for more gun control. In a letter  regarding gun control, local Oregon sheriff John Hanlin lamented the “mental illness” that he claimed pervades the country and that mental illness causes gun deaths, not the guns themselves. He is not alone. Far too many gun crimes are blamed on mental illness when the reality is that mental illness accounts for a small fraction of gun crimes. The result is that guns are sickeningly easy to obtain and America has more gun deaths than any other developed nation. In his speech yesterday, Obama acknowledged that there must be something wrong with a person who commits this kind of crime but rejected that excuse as an evasion of gun control that is uniquely American:

 Obama speech

 Obama speech

Overwhelmingly, shooters in these cases are white cisgender males. There are a thousand explanations offered by psychologists, sociologists, writers, readers, politicians, and the media. These explanations range from the biological to the social. “Testosterone makes men more violent,” “video games make men more violent,” “men are taught to protect the herd” and others in similar veins. I’m not going to attempt a psychological explanation here and I don’t think there is an easy explanation to be had. What does seem evident is the amount of privilege involved. Privilege to take up space, privilege to walk on the street without fear of violence from citizens or police. There is an entitlement in knowing that, because we are the most gun-obsessed nation on the planet, if I were a white cis male I could easily obtain a gun and kill as many people as I wanted and the country’s response would be to eulogize my own mental health. Nothing about this is okay. President Obama is entirely correct; this should be political. This should be the easiest political issue to solve but for some reason that I cannot fathom, it is the hardest.

Watch the full video of President Obama’s press conference below:



Images via Imgur


Amy Schumer Takes On Gun Violence 

Elliot Rodger, Mass Murderer: More Than Mental Illness 


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