“There’s been another mass shooting in America.” These were the words President Barack Obama delivered to the nation in his speech discussing the tragedy that occurred at Umpqua County College in Roseburg, Ore.
On Thursday, Oct. 1, a 26-year-old student at UCC named Christopher Harper-Mercer began to open fire on students on the campus.
It was reported by numerous witnesses that Harper-Mercer asked students their religion before shooting them, killing those who identified themselves as Christians while injuring those who said otherwise.
The rampage ended when the gunman killed himself after a vicious shootout with authorities. The shooting resulted in the death of nine people and sent another nine to the hospital.
Harper-Mercer, who was enrolled in English and theater classes at the school, was viewed as “odd” by his peers. Steven Fisher, who lived near Harper-Mercer, described him as skittish.
“His demeanor, the way he moved, always looking around,” Fisher said. “I got a bad vibe from him.” Investigations uncovered his frequenting of online message boards on which he would post comments discussing topics like his interest in high-profile shootings, his anger at not having a girlfriend and his belief that the world was against him.
More bizarre is the fact that, during the shooting, Harper-Mercer handed a box to a survivor containing his personal writings. Investigators later revealed that the troubled man’s writings portrayed himself as a student of previous mass shootings.
After the shootings, police searched for weapons in his apartment, where they found two pistols, four rifles, a shotgun and additional ammunition. Those guns, as well as the five pistols and one rifle Harper-Mercer had on him during the shooting, were legally obtained by the shooter or family members through a federally licensed firearms dealer over the course of the past three years.
As is the case with most people who commit mass shootings, authorities believe Harper-Mercer was suffering from mental illness. Records indicate he graduated in 2009 from a high school catering to students who are troubled or have special-needs. One of the names he used on his online accounts was “lithium love” – lithium being a medication used specifically for those who are suffering from psychological issues.
Reading all of the facts about this latest gunman will make you believe one of the following two statements: this man should not have been able to get such easy access to weapons or this man really needed to seek psychiatric help.
The aforementioned statements represent the two main sides of the argument brought up every time a mass shooting happens. Most Democrats demand stricter gun laws to solve the issue, while most Republicans demand mental health reform. In his press conference, Obama even commented on the repetitiveness of how the aftermaths of mass shootings play out.
“Somehow this has become routine,” Obama said. “The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this.”
Every single time a mass shooting like this happens in the United States, it creates an argument over how mass shootings can be prevented in the future.
However, instead of agreeing on a solution, no notable action is taken. Then, another mass shooting occurs and we get into the debate all over again. It does not matter if we need stricter gun control or mental health reform. It does not even matter if we need to have armed security at every major public location in our cities. All that matters is that we need to do something to make sure that crazed gunmen are not claiming any more innocent lives.
It should be our right as American citizens to feel safe wherever we are. We should not have to worry about being gunned down just because we are going to church, the movies or school. People have to realize that we must stop going around in circles, put our own personal agendas aside and agree to work together.
We need to find some sort of functioning solution to break the mass shooting cycle we have found ourselves trapped in since the Columbine massacre in 1999.