Frustrating Thoughts on the Oregon Shooting

I do not know much about guns. I did not grow up in a household with guns, I have never hunted, and I have never been in a situation where I feel having a handgun would have helped me out in the least.  For most of my adult life I just did not get guns. However, since moving to Oshkosh I think I have evolved a bit on the issue. Living in a smaller community where hunting is more culturally engrained, guns are more commonplace.

And that is ok. Like I said, I do not hunt, but I love to fish and do understand how special an experience it is to be out in nature with friends and family completely focused on the task at hand (Be it catching a fish or hunting a buck). Thought harder for me, I guess I can even understand why someone might want a handgun safely locked away in their home. What is impossible for me to understand are the mass shootings that keep occurring in our country. As a professor, the recent shooting in Oregon scares the hell out of me. Why does such horror occur?

It is natural and important to search for a reason, some kind of policy failure. Is it the guns? Well, yes. Without access to guns that individual does not perpetuate that crime. Is it mental health? Yes. Obviously I do not know the specific situation with the Oregon shooter, but I am sure there were some mental health issues there. Is the issue living in an open society? Yes. Part of living in an open society, and specifically being on a college campus, is an environment that encourages diversity, conflict, and creativity. If someone wants to exploit that environment, it is difficult to stop them without giving up the benefits of an open society.

My knee-jerk reaction is to ban any firearm that is not used for hunting. That would partly address the access problem. But the facts on the ground…the number of guns in circulation…makes this solution incomplete. Oh, and there is the Constitution, and the legitimate gripes from gun owners. That fact that I am not a gun owner does not make it ok for me to ignore or discount the opinions of those that are.

So, I guess I got nothing here, which is frustrating.


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