Umpqua Community College Shooting Rekindles Gun Debate
by Calvin Wang on Friday, October 16th, 2015
On the morning of October 1st, as the entire Milton community hunkered down behind covered windows and barricaded doors for the first lockdown drill of the year, news of a mass shooting in Oregon broke on national television.
Ten people were killed and seven were injured after a gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College, near Roseberg, Oregon. The gunman Chris Harper Mercer, 26, opened fire in his English classroom. As CNN reports, Tracy Heu, a fellow student of Mercer, saw Mercer walk into the classroom and began firing at the wall before telling everyone to “get in the center of the room.” A student in a wheelchair, later identified as Sareena Moore, tried to get on the ground when Mercer told her to “get back in it” before shooting her. A mother of three, Moore died next to her service dog, Bullet. Mercer then singled out and shot his professor, 67 year old Lawrence Levine, before shooting at the students on the ground. He singled out a student, Matthew, and said “you’re the lucky one” before handing him an envelope and instructing him to tell the police what happened and give them the envelope.
The New York Times reported that Mercer then walked from building to building firing at anyone in his sight for about 10 minutes before he committed suicide, adding himself to his 18 victims.
As the Washington Post reported, the Umpqua shooting brings the total mass shooting death toll in the United States to 294 since the 274 days so far in 2015, averaging more than one death a day due to mass shootings.
Shortly after this tragedy, the political and moral debate of gun control reignited. Many presidential candidates and political figures directly addressed this issue. On Fox News show Fox and Friends, republican candidate Dr. Ben Carson said, “I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him! He may shoot me but he can’t get us all.” As Fox reports, Carson is against gun control, believing that the people should have “armor penetrating ammunition” to protect themselves from an “overly aggressive government.” He has also supported the idea of kindergarten teachers having guns, saying that it would make him feel “much more comfortable” if there was a gun “secured in a place where kids cannot get to it”. Other Republican candidates agree with Carson’s view on gun control. For example, Jeb Bush said that “stuff happens, there is always a crisis” when talking about the massacre.
On the Democratic side, leading candidate Hillary Clinton also expressed her interest in curbing Americans’ accessibility to guns. The day the shooting occurred, she tweeted, “Another devastating shooting. We need sensible gun control measures to save lives, and I will do everything I can to achieve that.” She has been lobbying for gun control, hoping to develop “new, effective gun control measures” with the Republican-dominated Congress and the NRA.
As the members of the two political parties continue to take sides, many journalists, teachers, and parents have written to express their own opinions regarding the shooting. Charles Blow, a columnist for the New York Times, wrote in his article, “On Guns, Fear is Winning,” “Unfortunately this fear is winning, as many Americans think crime is up, even though it’s down. This fear is winning as massacres, and the gun violence discussions that follow, don’t lead to fewer gun sales, but more.”
Heidi Stevens, mother of two and reporter for the Chicago Tribune, addressed this fear in her article, “While kids continue to die,” we teach them where to hide, stating, “American culture has changed to accommodate massacres and gun violence, and simply denote them as unfortunate, unavoidable events….Despite the 20 children and 6 adults who were murdered at Sandy Hook, or any of the other deaths and injuries from the 52 other school shootings this calendar year, we fail to unite in saving our own children. We must break this cycle of preparing for the death of our nation’s future, whether that step is arming teachers or stricter gun laws, America must come together to stop such senseless violence.”
Since the massacre at Umpqua Community College, there have been 4 shootings resulting in death or injury at American schools.
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