I guess the title kind of gave away my blog today. Like everyone in the country I have been watching the news about the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado last week. It is absolutely sickening that 10 people lost their lives needlessly at the hands of another deranged whack job that owns a weapon.
As usual we have strayed away from the sadness of the families of the victims and focused on the shooter and the weapons used in the act. Now, I know this is going to fly in the face of some of my gun control friends, but at least consider my opinion before you stop reading.
I am not in favor of selling large magazine assault style rifles, I don’t really think they serve a significant purpose other than the ability to kill other people, and I probably won’t go buy one. However, I do believe citizens have a “right” to purchase and own one. I also believe that you should have to undergo some type of background check before you can buy one. I believe you should have a permit for this gun just like you should have a permit for a hand gun. From a law enforcement viewpoint, I think it would be very helpful for the police to know who owns what types of guns. I believe it would save lives if they knew what weapons a perpetrator might own before walking into a house where they could potentially be used on them. However, gun control is not really the topic of this blog.
On April 20, 1999, the world changed. This change probably had as much national impact as 911. This was the day of the Columbine School Shooting. From this day forward, the incidence of mass shootings escalated across our country. As a school superintendent everything about school safety changed. I remember we had Graduation on our athletic field in May 1999. This was the first time I asked law enforcement to provide extended security for the ceremony. We had snipers on top of buildings and in the crow’s nest of the stadium. We also had armed police at every entrance and exit, as well as undercover police in the crowd. Little did we know that this would become a standard practice at many large school functions from now on.
So, what made the event at Columbine so significant to our society? Quit simply, it was the publicity that it received from the media. The perpetrators were on the news for weeks and months on end. A bunch of unknown, disgruntled, mentally disturbed high school students got national recognition, albeit the notoriety was for a heinous event that cost innocent lives.
Ever since that date, the mass shootings in our country have escalated. From Jonesville, Ark, Sandy Hook Elementary, Charleston, SC and on and on and on. All of these horrific events got public attention, and the perpetrators got their 15 minutes of fame (many times much more than 15 minutes). Who would have thought that Dylan Rooff would have more widespread name recognition that John Lewis. There is something terribly wrong with the way we are reporting these tragedies.
Meanwhile, back in Washington we have squared off to make this a political event. Republicans don’t want gun control and Democrats do, blah, blah, blah. How about if we get legislation that controls what is reported about these incidents? How about a law that recognizes the victims of these terrible events but only vaguely mentions the shooters. How about we simply report the following, “the shooting was carried out by a deranged person age 26 years old.” Isn’t that all we really need to know? I personally don’t need to know what he/she looks like, where he/she is originally from, what race he/she is, or anything else about him/her. He/she is a mass murderer who, if they didn’t commit suicide at the scene, we be prosecuted and sentenced for the crimes they committed.
Let’s take away the “15 minutes of fame” from these killers. I believe it will make a difference. This is something that both political parties can support and it will be a lot less controversial than massive gun control.
In my opinion, the people that are going to commit crimes with guns already have them. If they don’t have a gun they will find a way to get one. Stopping sales of guns is like building a barn after the horse has run off. It is also making our gun manufacturers Multi-Billionaires. Just talking about making it hard to get a gun sells millions of them. I know this blog will draw criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, so it must be reasonable.