I spent yesterday morning driving north again, for a soccer game again, and to take Carson shopping again.
I arrived at the apartment, and C had not been in the car more than one minute before we heard the news.
A mass shooting at a school again.
That word. It wears a person down. And in that moment I realized it is almost worn by a person because it cloaked us both, reducing our response to two heavy sighs, a setting of our jaws in anger, and then a sort of weary acceptance.
Innocent lives were brutally taken for no other reason than they were simply in the wrong place at the "right" time.
Nine families did not sleep last night, will not know rest again - at least not in the form they had come to know. The kind where you know your loved ones are safely at home, too. (The count is ten, which includes the gunman.)
Candles were lit in vigil. A community mourned in the dark.
Politicians, those who do have the power to effect change, offered up rote "thoughts and prayers" on Twitter.
It will happen again. And again. And again. And again, and again, and again, andagainandagainandagain...
Because this is what happens when a country simply doesn't give enough of a shit to stand up and do something.
Those of you sitting at home in your tiny towns and hamlets, much like Roseburg in Oregon, thinking, "Oh, that could never happen here"? Think again.
Every person who ever finds themselves staring into the camera lens after a tragedy echos the same words, "I never thought it would happen here."
No one ever does.
The problem is that "Here" is a moving target. "Here" is an equal opportunity destroyer. "Here" shows no allegiance to a single location. And "Here" likes nothing better than to sneak up and surprise an entire community.
At this writing, the details are far from complete. What they do know is that 911 calls began to come in just after 10:30am. Shots were being fired on the Umpqua Community College campus in a building in which classes were taking place. Police arrived, engaged the shooter, and within minutes he was dead.
But not before also ending the lives of 9 completely innocent human beings and injuring far more.
Police have confirmed the dead shooter, although the investigation continues as to who he was, his background, connections, etc. A name has been released as well as his photo. (He will get no exposure here.)
In the end, that makes no difference.
Whoever this animal was, he came, saw, deliberately unloaded his weapon(s), and then exited forever, leaving only trauma, taking with him any answers.
Not that any answer could ever justify the bloodshed and loss of innocent life seen yesterday.
Like you, my heart goes out to the students who now join the club of those who have survived a mass shooting. I physically ache for the parents, friends, relatives of all UCC students – as they desperately attempted to reach their children, spouses, BFFs to verify their safety. And I cannot begin to imagine the anguish of those who heard only an endless ringing and no answer.
What I also feel is anger. Anger that better systems do not exist to protect college campuses, yes, but mostly anger that yet another waste of oxygen has decided to play God and end the lives of so many innocent people.
My message to people like him? If you are hellbent on leaving? Just leave. Find your balls and stick that gun in your own mouth and pull the goddamn trigger and leave the rest of us out of your miserable equation.
We don’t need you.
I don’t care if your childhood was pure shit. I don’t give a rat’s ass if your girlfriend dumped you or if you just lost your job. I don’t care if you have chronic acne and never got laid. I don’t give two shits in a whirlwind that you believe you have been slighted, maligned, misunderstood, or marginalized by someone or something in this life.
We all go through shit. We all get treated in ways we don’t appreciate at some point in our lives. We all experience disappointments, let-downs, slights, heartbreaks, dashed hopes, crushed dreams, bad people, and life’s general ability to make us feel small.
That does not give us the right to strike out and demand some gory retribution.
So whoever you were? I’m glad you’re dead. Call it un-Christian. Call it callous. I don’t care.
I’ll save my prayers for the victims, and especially for all those who now have to learn how to take the next breath in this life, knowing that their child, their spouse, their loved one, their friend, is not taking it with them.
We are a nation that literally has in circulation enough guns for every man, woman, child, and infant in our population. Let that sink in. That is over 300,000,000 firearms. And you cannot tell me that every one of those is owned by someone sane, competent, responsible. And do not give me the worn out old excuse, "Well, if there had been someone with a gun..."
News for you - UCC allows, with prior permission from the college - concealed carry on its campus. Roseburg is a small town where the life of the outdoors (hunting, etc) is practiced daily. Guns are not alien to this town.
But you could be strapped up like Rambo and not make a tinker's damn worth of difference. These shooters rely on the element of surprise. They do not send a calling card indicating when they shall arrive to kill. And even if you could get to your weapon? Your own abilities paired with panic and adrenaline mean the outcome could leave more innocent lives taken as you try to "protect" them. (See recent example out of Texas when a concealed carry enthusiast shot a car jacking victim in the head while trying to "protect" him. He ran after realizing what a Great White Hunter he actually was not.)
Roseburg is not a huge city, roughly 20,000 people. Over 3,500 of them attend the community college. And it is a town like this that will feel this tragedy to the bone. Small towns may have some drawbacks, but one of them is not a lack of community. Small towns, for better or worse, have that one down cold.
People know one another. They have grown up together. They look out for one another. Yes, sometimes they are WAY too much in one another's business, but that's part of the tradeoff.
Their community will rally, they will mourn, they will move forward. What else is there to do?
I'll tell you.
Look at your child. Hold the baby you just birthed. Embrace your spouse. Call your parents. Hug your friend. And then ask yourself if you are willing to sit idly by anymore and allow them to be sacrificed to a mindset that believes "more guns" is any kind of answer.
Because if you think it cannot happen in your town, you are wildly naive. If you think it won't happen again, you have not been paying attention.
Someone in your town is angry. In fact, there are hundreds, thousands of these shooters out there. They inhabit every school, at every grade level. They are your co-workers, the people choosing apples next to you at the store. They are there, feeling invisible, marginalized, penalized in life for things over which they feel they have zero control. Feeling feelings that are too big, overwhelming, desperate.
And most of all angry.
Angry at their circumstances. Angry at the perceived inequities of their life vs the lives they see others living where everything appears Nirvana-ish. Anger because they have been told to be angry at someone, something, some group. Directed to blame their life's lot on someone else. The government, a skin color, women who won't date them, an ideology, a religion.
And that anger sits, ferments, begins to boil, until one day it runs over, cannot be contained, and with the help of 300,000,000 guns - explodes.
Changing yet another town's name to Here.
I know this because this article has been written by using entire sections of past articles I have written after past mass shootings. All I have had to do is change the town, adjust the numbers.