Editorials

Did you miss these shootings?

The Observer editorial board

Two people embrace Friday outside a Northern Arizona University student dormitory after an early morning confrontation between two groups of students escalated into gunfire.
Two people embrace Friday outside a Northern Arizona University student dormitory after an early morning confrontation between two groups of students escalated into gunfire. AP

You might have missed the news of another campus shooting Friday. The incident made it near the top of some news websites, but not all.

It happened at Northern Arizona University, where a fraternity member was killed and three others wounded in a fight that escalated into a killing outside a fraternity house. The suspected gunman, an 18-year-old freshman, was taken into custody.

There was another Friday shooting, too, at Texas Southern University. Did you miss that one? It's understandable. Only one person was killed, which these days is too ordinary to warrant the really big headlines.

Those go to mass shootings like the one at Oregon's Umpqua Community College earlier this month. In that one, nine people died at the hands of a shooter flush with guns. America raised its head, shook its head, and started debating again about gun control. This week, the Washington Post reported that President Obama is seriously considering using his executive authority to impose new background-check requirements for buyers who purchase guns from high-volume dealers.

That discussion is needed, but not only because of horrifying, mass killings. It’s needed because every day, about 30 people die because of guns. It happens at the end of drug deals gone bad, or bar fights that escalate, or family discord that spirals out of control. It also happens at schools, just in smaller – but no less lethal – incidents than Oregon.

Can gun control legislation stop all of these – or even most of these? No. But reasonable legislation can prevent some deaths simply by making it harder for some people to purchase guns or pass them on to others.

What’s reasonable, according to polls? Passing tougher background checks. Removing obstacles so states can share information on mental health issues of gun buyers. Closing loopholes allowing “straw purchasers” to pass background checks before passing guns to those who can't.

Then there’s the alternative from the NRA and gun lobbyists: More guns, so that good armed guys can stop bad armed guys. Presidential candidate Ben Carson took that another step this week, suggesting that in incidents like Oregon, everyone could just rush the shooter.

It's the same rationale as the more guns approach. Only a few would die before someone subdued the bad guy. And what’s a few deaths, right? We’ve grown accustomed to 30 a day.

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