I was originally intending to keep this event more politically neutral, to simply hold a communal gathering to show support for this community that is in so much pain. But I wouldn’t want to organize it and attend it and ostensibly lead it if I didn’t want some action to spring from it. I can’t pretend to be there and not be actively wishing for change in this society, where a mass shooting is a fairly common occurrence.
Everyone should be paying rapt attention to this issue right now. Sandy Hook Elementary saw the second deadliest school shooting just under two years ago in December 2013; since then there have been 986 mass shootings in America, resulting in at least 1,234 deaths. And the numbers will keep climbing if we continue to do nothing about it. We really haven’t done anything about it. The reporting is dwindling and inconsistent. Shootings where only a few people lose their lives are no longer worth covering (the University of South Carolina’s shooting earlier this year received little more than passing notice by national news organizations). There is no more moral outrage anymore, no call to action to accompany these attacks. Twice, politically moderate gun control laws have been proposed to Congress and have been shot down by the Senate. The gun rights activists are louder and more organized than the massive majority of the U.S. population that is pro gun control, so nothing changes.
We can no longer act as though this is acceptable. It must change if we are to call ourselves a developed nation. We are the only country in the world where gun violence happens with such frightening regularity. We are facing a domestic terrorism problem that is not present anywhere else on Earth. We have to come together to change our laws if we are to remain a society with any human dignity at all. There’s no way I could stand before anyone who shows up on Thursday night and not be honest with my thoughts about this subject. The tone of this gathering will be solemn and respectful to the victims of this heart-breaking act of violence, but in its very existence, it will be in active protest to the gun laws that are degrading American society. The event will be politically neutral in that we will not take the time to discuss politics in that moment, but by showing up, you will be making a statement.
I really hope to see many of you there. This is not an issue we can be passive about anymore. As a community, we should be publically responsive to a tragedy of this nature and clear in our urgent need for change. We have to be united as a student body against this violence. So please, meet me on Eddie’s on Thursday night at 8:00 to join in remembrance of the 10 lives lost at Umpqua Community College and all victims of gun violence in our society.