In the Wake of the Safeway Shooting, We Know How This Is Going to Go | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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In the Wake of the Safeway Shooting, We Know How This Is Going to Go 

we are living in an America where shootings of this type have become so commonplace that there is a threshold for what Congress defines as a “mass shooting,” and Bend’s recent tragedy doesn’t even rate among that standard.

Although we are afraid to confront it, we have all become familiar with gun violence in our public spaces. And, if we are honest, we know how the conversation around this violence will proceed. The faction of Americans tired of the violence, the death, the senseless trauma will call, now, in the wake of a shooting that killed two innocent men in Bend, for people to finally ban AR-15s —the same type of gun that the 20-year-old shooter in this weekend’s tragedy was allegedly able to obtain just this summer. We recognize, after reading some of the killer’s online manifesto, that he was suffering from anger and depression, and that his mental health concerns went unnoticed or unchecked. There will be calls for us all to recognize the signs of mental health distress and to seek help for those suffering. There will be calls for change surrounding our state and nation’s abysmal track record of managing illness in general, let alone mental illness, often so much more silent than cancer or diabetes. There will be pleas for ways to make things better, how we should ban automatic weapons and fund mental health or even universal health care that will take the financial burden out of the health equation.
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And people will be right to say all of these things.

We know this, because all of these things are said every time there is a shooting like the one that happened at the east side Safeway Sunday night.

And yet, we are living in an America where shootings of this type have become so commonplace that there is a threshold for what Congress defines as a “mass shooting,” and Bend’s recent tragedy doesn’t even rate among that standard. We are not the only country with guns, and certainly not the only country that suffers from mental health concerns. But we are the only country that sees these shootings happen on a regular basis—the only place on the planet where we have a language and a standard for what constitutes a mass shooting. It is appropriate for us all to feel helpless and angry and frustrated and to feel like nothing gets done. And, sadly, we know how this is going to go. Even the people who shape public opinion by writing on topics of import every week are struggling to muster the sense of hope that is supposed to be prescribed at a time like this.

In the U.S. Congress, it is ironic that the body can agree on what constitutes a mass shooting, but cannot agree on doing anything about it. It feels like creating false hope when we say that we can pressure our elected leaders to once again pass an assault weapons ban similar to the one that was in place from 1994 to 2004. The U.S. House passed such a bill last month, but it appears doomed in the Senate.

However, the scope of the problem and its fallout demand that we persevere. In Oregon, voters will be able to vote on Measure 114 this November—a measure that would require safety training and require law enforcement to sign off on gun permits, in addition to banning magazines larger than 10 rounds. This is progress and voters should pass it. It’s sensible and does not violate the rights of Oregonians.

From now until November, the names of the two victims in this tragedy—Donald Ray Surrett, Jr. and Glenn Bennett—will be invoked in a number of different ways; to talk about heroic acts and victimhood; to debate what one would do if put in the same situation; to use as a reminder about why we should pass this present gun measure.

We cannot give up hope for incremental change in the way of sensible gun policy. We hope that incremental change can happen in Oregon come November… and we hope this can be the beginning of the sea change in how we view health care, mental health care and access to assault weapons nationwide.


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