SEATTLE — I was in Seattle last week visiting my beautiful daughter Maria and my precious 11-year-old twin grandsons, Duncan and Vincent. All lives are precious of course, and that’s why I was going to stop off in Roseburg, Ore. on the way north to pay my respects to the eight victims of a deranged shooter at Umpqua Community College in that usually peaceful logging town in southern Oregon.
President Obama was visiting Roseburg last Friday, however, and I’m allergic to 20-car motorcades, so I took an alternate route to Seattle. As I drove north through southern Oregon, where I once lived, I thought of the similarities between Carson and Roseburg, two unlikely places for this kind of horrific and inexplicable violence to erupt. In Roseburg, 26-year-old Chris Mercer opened fire in a classroom at the local community college on Thursday, Oct. 1, killing eight people and wounding several more. Mercer then killed himself in a shootout with police.
Of course all of us remember the mass murder that occurred at the Carson IHOP restaurant on Sept. 9, 2011, when 33-year-old mental patient Eduardo Sencion shot and killed three people, including two uniformed national Guardsmen, before turning his gun on himself. So it’s clear this kind of senseless violence can occur anywhere at any time. In fact, the Roseburg attack was the fourth shooting at an American college campus since August.
It’s interesting to note former Appeal Publisher Jeff Ackerman is now the publisher of the Roseburg News-Review, and former News-Review Publisher Mark Raymond is the current publisher of the Appeal. I sent a condolence message to Ackerman, who replied it was “a horrible day in Roseburg, but this is a blue-collar timber community and the folks here are tough people who take care of each other.”
In an Oct. 2 “publisher’s notebook” column, Ackerman wrote “this story isn’t going to be about the killer” because “history is filled with evil people taking innocent lives. Nor is this the time to talk about guns or whether new gun laws would have kept the horrific event from happening.” Ackerman added “this is a time to mourn our dead and care for our wounded. It’s time to do what we do best . . . unite.”
As usual, President Obama and his followers immediately called for more gun control, but I don’t think that’s the solution to the random violence problem. All we have to do is to look at the president’s adopted hometown, Chicago, which has strict local gun laws. Nevertheless, there were 60 murders in Chicago last month, the deadliest September since 2002. Chicago’s murder rate is up 21 percent over last year, when there were 426 murders in that city. And moreover, nearly 80 percent of the victims and the shooters were African-American.
So why isn’t our first African-American president talking about black-on-black violence and family values? He seems to be much more concerned about occasional mass shootings and incidents involving white police officers and black victims than he is about escalating black-on-black violence in our inner cities. I know that it’s politically incorrect to single out the African-American community, but those are the facts. Let’s not forget all lives matter.
Later, we learned the Roseburg shooter was a gun-obsessed loner who lived with his overly protective mother, so I think we should pay close attention to mental health issues as we begin yet another gun control discussion. And the Feds should vigorously enforce existing gun laws, ban assault weapons and close gun show loopholes.
Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, isn’t a Gun Guy.