UCC Shooting: Victims Identified and Politicization

[Content Note: Guns; death.]

The nine people who were killed by the shooter last week at Umpqua Community College in Oregon have been publicly identified: Lucero Alcaraz, 19; Rebecka Ann Carnes, 18; Treven Taylor Anspach, 20; Quinn Glen Cooper, 18; Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, 59; Lucas Eibel, 18; Jason Dale Johnson, 34; Professor Lawrence Levine, 67; and Sarena Dawn Moore, 44.

At the link, you will also find their pictures and brief bios.

My sincerest condolences to their family, friends, coworkers and/or classmates, and community.

* * *

Now, of course, is not the time to politicize this tragedy, says anyone who wants to silence criticism of gun access in the United States, which is a politicization of its own. Whether one argues for tighter gun laws, or argues against even having that debate, it's a political position. Because guns are political objects in this country.

Our President argued passionately that this is, in fact, the time to get political:
Somehow this has become routine. 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.

...And what's become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they'll argue. Fewer gun safety laws.

...And, of course, what's also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic. 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. This won't be information coming from me; it will be coming from you. We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so. And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?

This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn't make sense.
Emphasis mine.

[CN: Video autoplays at link] Also "politicizing" this tragedy by calling for stricter gun acquisition laws? The shooter's father: "How on Earth could he compile 13 guns? How can that happen? They talk about gun laws, they talk about gun control. Every time something like this happens, they talk about it, and nothing is done. I'm not trying to say that that's what to blame for what happened, but if Chris had not been able to get a hold of thirteen guns, it wouldn't have happened. ...How is it so easy to get a hold of guns? How is it so easy? Thirteen guns— I've never held a gun in my life, and I never want to. But I know there are people that do. But you have to ask that question: How was he able to compile that kind of arsenal?"

He doesn't understand why his son acquired those guns, or why he used them to kill and injure and terrorize so many people. And he doesn't defend his son. He simply observes, with evident regret, that his son's murderous shooting spree wouldn't have been possible if he hadn't been able to easily acquire guns.

* * *

Naturally, the presidential candidates have "politicized" this shooting in one way or another: Either they have failed to call for gun reform and/or criticized anyone who has (especially President Obama), substituting thoughts and prayers for action, or they have called for gun reform.

Jeb Bush was the worst of the Republican lot, saying: "We're in a difficult time in our country and I don't think that more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It's just, it's very sad to see. But I resist the notion—and I did, I had this, this challenge as governor, because we have, look, stuff happens, there's always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something and it's not necessarily the right thing to do."

Stuff happens. Shrug. Proponents of unrestricted gun access tend to talk about gun violence, and mass shootings in particular, as though they are natural disasters, totally outwith our control. But this is the absolute nadir of that attitude. Stuff happens.

Bernie Sanders, who has a mixed record on gun control, including voting against the Brady Bill, tweeted following the shooting: "We need sensible gun-control legislation which prevents guns from being used by people who should not have them." Which is better than saying we don't need any legislation at all, but advocacy without concrete policy suggestions is ultimately about as useful as thoughts and prayers. Sanders may well follow up with some concrete policy suggestions, for that very reason.

I have seen a lot of people asking over the past few days: Who is going to be brave? Who is going to stand up to the NRA and prioritize people's lives over their political fortunes?

Hillary Clinton is going to brave, that's who:
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Monday began detailing new proposals aimed at closing gun sale loopholes and holding accountable those who sell guns for violence committed with those weapons.

...Clinton appeared viscerally frustrated as she spoke after Thursday's shooting at Umpqua Community College, in which authorities say a student killed nine people before turning one of several guns he had with him on himself. "What is wrong with us, that we cannot stand up to the NRA and the gun lobby, and the gun manufacturers they represent?" Clinton said Friday at Broward College in Davie, Florida. "We don't just need to pray for these people. We need to act."
Clinton's plan will reportedly include support for:

1. The repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, "which gives legal protection to gun manufacturers and dealers whose guns are used for criminal activity... As a senator from New York, Clinton voted against the law in 2005 and, the official said, would lead an effort to repeal it if elected president. Her closest competitor in the Democratic primary, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who served in the U.S. House at the time, voted in favor of it."

2. Eliminating the "Charleston Loophole," a reference to the AME Church Shooting in June, "which allows gun purchases to go forward if a background check isn't completed within three days."

3. Legislation prohibiting "all people with histories of domestic abuse from buying or possessing guns, since current laws don't apply to people in dating relationships or convicted stalkers."

Clinton will also reportedly promise to make this shit happen by executive action, if she is elected and if Congress fails to act.

Now who else is going to be brave with her?

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