When I first started in this position as publisher a few months ago, I had planned that my first editorial piece would be positive and uplifting. I wanted to start on a good note and cover some of the great things that are happening in this town and with the newspaper. Sadly, that is not the case today.
Last night I spent what seemed like hours watching coverage of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon where a gunman killed 10 people. Roseburg is a town with a population of 22,000 and does not seem unlike our own community. This drew me in with the initial thought that this could have been our town, our friends, and our family.
Upon the initial receipt of the news of this tragedy, I was not shocked. My heart was filled with sadness, but it was a sadness with which I was familiar. My heart went out to each individual involved, but I felt lost as to what I could do. This did not strike me as unusual until I watched President Obama’s address on the incident to the nation. That was the moment when the shock hit.
The President addressed the fact that these incidents are happening so often that they and our responses have become routine. The President has addressed the nation on 15 different occasions regarding mass shootings in his tenure as President. That number is astounding and heartbreaking. What is more heartbreaking is that we are no longer shocked as a nation. The press coverage is all the same coverage that we’ve seen before. It is painful that we feel so lost on the issues behind this that we generate the same responses and don’t allow ourselves to act.
One of the biggest issues that President Obama addressed was gun control. He questioned why we have made such great strides in the war on terror, but we still have a huge battle still happening on our soil. How can we eliminate this almost routine tragedy?
He called public news organizations to action last night to investigate this, and in his speech he said, “I would ask news organizations – because I won’t put these facts forward – have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports.”
The call has been heard, and that is what I intend to do. According to the Center for Disease Control, the number of gun violence homicides in the U.S. from 2001 to 2013 was a staggering 153,144, and according to the Global Terrorism Database, the number of deaths due to terrorism in the U.S. from 2001 to 2014 was 3,054. Take a moment to process that information and use it how you see fit.
Where do we begin? What can we do? We all have our thoughts and opinions on what can be done to change this course for America. It is time to do our duty as citizens of this great country. I encourage everybody to write our local legislators and let your opinion be heard. Let’s discuss this openly and with civility toward each other and put party lines and traditional stances aside. Re-evaluate your stance and take into consideration where compromise can be made. In the upcoming elections, please consider this one of the most important issues of our time in deciding who you want to represent you on the state and federal levels. But more than anything, let’s change the road we are headed down. The next time could be much closer to home.
Reach Matt Moran at firstname.lastname@example.org