Attendees of a candlelight vigil

Charleston. Sandy Hook. Aurora. And now, Umpqua Community College in Oregon, where a 26-year-old shooter killed 9 people and wounded 7 others, before dying himself. We open the phones lines to get listener reactions to the Oregon tragedy and America’s epidemic of deadly mass shootings.

Guests:
Deb Del Vecchio-Scully, clinical recovery leader and trauma specialist of the Newtown Recovery and Resiliency Team
Chris Lehman, Salem correspondent, Northwest News Network
Adam Lankford, criminal justice professor, University of Alabama; author of "The Myth of Martyrdom: What Really Drives Suicide Bombers, Rampage Shooters, and Other Self-Destructive Killers"

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    My concern is these shootings are happening so often that most Americans are becoming desensitized to the point that they are just happy it isn’t themselves or loved ones being killed, with the added belief that those in power just don’t care!

  • EIDALM

    Gun owners are 80 times more likely to use their guns shooting family members ,friends , or themselves, than in self defense.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      And most lawful firearm owners never use their firearms to shoot anyone.

  • EIDALM

    Most illegal guns are stolen from legal gun owners

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Most illegal firearm use are from firearms that are bought at gun shows where one doesn’t need to do a background check. Or from purchased from private owners who also need not do background checks.

  • EIDALM

    The easy access to guns in the U S is the main reason for so many incident like this sad case in Oregon ,but also plays big part in the finality and death in many domestic violence ,and simple dispute between friend ,it also may be the main cause for serial murderers which is near unique phenomena to the U S with thousands more cases compared to any other country.

  • EIDALM

    The gun violence in the U S is hundreds of times more than any other country in the world ,and the main reason is the easy access of guns.

  • EIDALM

    Please ,please ,please ,don’t blame this incident and other like it on MENTAL ILLNESS ,this person and other like him would not have killed so many people without a gun…

  • EIDALM

    Back ground check is not enough ,because many illegal guns are obtained from legal gun owners through theft ,and even sane legal gun owners often shoot others if they are angry with others specially in domestic violence cases.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Actually illegal gun use is committed by people who buy firearms legally thru gun shows or private owners in neighboring states, who are not required to do a background check. Go to a gun show, pay money, walk out with a firearm. This needs to stop but its something the NRA has fought tooth and nail.

      • No_Slack_Jack

        Very true. The gun shows and the guys who legally sell their guns from out of the trunks of their cars are the #1 source of “Saturday night specials,” which are responsible for the bulk of gun deaths, and yes this is a racially/culturally spiked matter. IIRC, The 2 leading “Saturday night special” manufacturers are in SoCal. So-called “straw buyers”(proxy buyers) are another awful, legal loophole that will only be closed via much closer gun registration and sales scrutiny — this US sales loophole is the source of most of Mexico’s drug guns.

        This all boils down to profits, surprise, surprise. If this really matters to any of us, we need to hit the manufacturers in the pocket book; as in shaming them via public exposure (they don’t like this one); via taxing them at a rate that reflects the societal damage the wreak, etc…

    • chris wallace

      All background checks for a firearm should require a face-to-face interview with a qualified law enforcement officer in addition to examining relevant records (the vetting process has to be thorough). This implies that if a licensee’s weapon is subsequently involved in a gun-related death the licensing officer may have to bear some responsibility if it can be shown that he/she was negligent in the vetting process.

  • EIDALM

    People with guns kill people ,but people without guns can not kill people with guns….Instead going around the bush and fall for the NRA propaganda all guns must be banned….The 2nd amendment stops when my life or other lives are endangered with guns

    • No_Slack_Jack

      This statement really challenges me.

      On one hand, I completely agree that the Supreme Court’s view that the 2nd Amendment is truly trampling on my fundamental right to a life without constant fear of my life or that of someone I care about being harmed by someone with a firearm — this seems to be a Constitutional conflict where “I” lose my right in favor of “the other guy’s.”

      On the other hand, the topic is far more complex than simply outlawing all firearms. The point is we want a safe society which is free from repression, whether that be the repression associated with out of control violence or repression from draconian laws and law enforcement.

      At the core of the issue is that our society clearly has evolved to a point where the pursuit of money and other uniquely self-centered pursuits have primacy over our collective or community interests. We have lost sight of the fact that the notion of self-defense is bogus in a civil society, and the main purpose of guns are entertainment and recreation — American society has decided that our ability to play is more critical than for us to live in harmony as a civil society.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Chicago has the toughest firearm laws which as I recall do not allow a homeowner to show a weapon outside his home. Like brandish one from ones porch etc. Yet, Chicago has firearm deaths pretty much weekly in one area of town. And those firearms are not being purchased legally. So one thing we need do is find a way to keep/prevent firearms from getting into the hands of those intent on using them to murder people.

  • ScottJ

    I wonder what role the media plays in these instances. When perpetrators are made into instant celebrities and given blanket coverage on T.V. news, it gives mis-adjusted people their fifteen minutes of fame for days and days. Who cares about so-called “manifestos” or rationale of these evil acts. Solution: give each shooter a pseudonym such as “loser #14”; do not analyze twisted motivations; do not show their photo on the news.

    • Ehkzu

      Since the repeal of the FCC’s requirements that broadcase media present the news as part of each station’s license mandate, and of American newspapers being acquired by large corporations, news departments have become profit centers.

      And what sells is scandal and outrage, the more personalized the better.

      “If it bleeds it leads; if it thinks it stinks.”

      To get what you want we’d have to re-regulate broadcast media, reversed the corporatization of the media the Reagan instituted.

      • ScottJ

        Ehkzu- What you say makes sense. Although, “if it bleeds it leads” is a media maxim from decades before Reagan. I’m not in favor of regulation in this area- as I trust the government little more than corporations.

        It would be nice if media outlets recognized their own participation in this dynamic and did the decent thing- which would be to de-incentivize such behavior instead of reward it.

        I’m not holding my breath however.

    • Paul

      Extremely valid point. My thoughts exactly. The good news, the local sheriff giving his report to the media made it a specific point to say absolutely Nothing about the person, his/her name, place of residence, any motive, if any ‘manifestos’ were written —nothing whatsoever. Good job Mr Sheriff.

  • Livegreen

    Gun libertarians have recently been saying that on a per capita basis there are not more masacres compared to European countries. Is this true or false?

    • Ehkzu

      Not just false but a baldfaced lie. The NRA is a massive Fake Fact Factory, In this case they took a spike in homicide in Belgium in one year, as I recall, and wove it into a cherrypicked narrative that’s completely false. All civilized countries are vastly less homicidal than America.

      But the NRA has found that when its lies suit the prejudices and fears of its white, largely Southern base, those lies are embraced eagerly.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Its an NRA lie. And as one Nazi said in the 40’s, tell a lie often enough and its taken as truth.

  • Sam Badger

    I am teaching at community college right now, and it makes me so sad to think that this event has happened. I think in America we fetishize certain kinds of individual violence, and for some twisted people, that comes out in the form of mindless brutality against innocent peers. They see their brutality as justified by some kind of personal sleight, and combined with narcissism, gun culture and a desire for attention, we have a disaster on our hands.

    • Ehkzu

      American gun culture is a direct heritage of slavery. Slaves resent slavery, and tend to run away and/or kill their masters. So slavery is maintained by brutal suppression and thin-skinned “honor” such that the slightest sign of insubordination is responded to instantly.

      This is the dark underbelly of Southern white culture, hidden from view in fantasies like Gone with the Wind.

      And in fact all demographics are more violent and homicidal in the South than elsewhere in the USA. Including, say, white suburban middle class areas in the South vs. their counterparts elsewhere. So much so that most of the difference between America and other developed countries re: homicide comes from the South.

      It’s also the source of the 2nd Amendment, which might as well be called the White Supremacy Amendment. James Madison wrote it in response to the campaign against ratifying the Constitution being carried out by anti-Federalists in the Virginia legislation, claiming that under the new Constitution the Federal government would disarm the South’s ubiquitous slave patrols–the militias the 2nd Amendment refers to.

      Of course Madison had to keep its purpose obscure so as to not offend the Northern states. Look up a detailed analysis of the 2nd by law professor Carl T. Bogus and you’ll see how this came about in detail.

    • AutismDadd

      Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer was on the autistic spectrum like Adam Lanza. Both vaccine victims. Both had frustrating lives. Jeremy Holmes no doubt had the same and was another vaccine casualty.

  • pm05

    Are we “numb” to this or hopeless? I am sick of it. I am angry at our politicians. We should be furious and tell these politicians to stop it! The reason the politicians don’t is because they want they money from the NRA – how sick is that! And, we are allowing it! Contact your congress person and ask them how much blood money are they taking from the NRA and STOP IT!

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      And yes the majority who still vote with the NRA take no money from the NRA. The issue is still the NRA, because they run ads during the election season targeting those who are anti NRA. So we need to use Citizens United to raise tens of millions of dollars to run ads targeting the NRA and those who lick their boots. Until we make this damn personal the NRA will win.

  • Ehkzu

    If there could be a single action item today in reaction this this latest mass shooting, it should not be any changes in gun regulation–instead it should be to reverse the gun industry’s ban on government agencies collecting and studying the nature and causes of gun violence.

    How could a private business cartel order around the federal government? By exploiting the violent Southern white culture of violence–in place since the first slaves were brought to America. Southern whites see it as a proud culture of honor and manliness of course. And the gun industry has propagandized this voter base into attacking any politician who challenges gun worship in the slightest, and, like africanized bees, the gun industry is vengeful, pursuing any politician who challenges its supremacy as long as that person lives.

    This has worked especially well with the Republican Party, which has embraced this business cartel with open arms, and which diligently carries out its dictates. In this case the GOP has banned gun violence research through legislation and Congressional intimidation for over 20 years, with the Democrats standing by helplessly.

    This ban extends to the state and local level. From police departments on up, gun violence is underreported–in part because it makes police departments look bad–especially when its police shooting unarmed civilians.

    So we swim in the dark.

    • No_Slack_Jack

      WooHoo, well called! 2 things to remember:

      A) Back in the ’80’s, Austrian gun maker Glock, in conjunction w/ Darryl Gates’ SWAT tidal wave, rapidly accelerated the current gun problem by offering up their 32-round automatic handguns for a ridiculously low discounted amount (many were free) to police departments around the country, and these 2 things exploded the America’s gun problem. Those sick bastards at Glock-America didn’t do this at a fiscal loss. Oh no, they only gave their arms away when the PD’s turned over their old classic Smith & Wesson revolver’s to Glock, which then turned around and sold them to the general public for at least the cost of the Glocks that were being given to the PD’s, and ultimately these largely increased in value and were sold for close to twice the cost of the Glocks!!

      B) WRT guns, the gun industry and the RNC have focused their attention not just on Southern Whites. They are also very interested in the disaffected working class; to whit the RNC’s success at gutting union rolls. It seems this has been accomplished by 1st encouraging mistrust of people in the local society (or union), 2nd by encouraging those disaffected individuals to “take control” of their lives by force if need be, and 3rd by encouraging the previous collective bargaining-minded to support the collective power of the NRA Team. The sad-sack NRA types wish they were much more independent than they really are; they just cannot see how they are being played by a bunch of rich industrialists who only care about the money in the NRA supporters’ pockets.

    • ponzerelli

      little-known fact: the Sandy Hook attack never took place. it was entirely faked. You will never see photos of children’s bodies, because no child was harmed. the children who sang at the Super Bowl to commemorate the so-called attack, were in fact the exact same ones whom the media claimed were killed in the massacre. and those kids have never been heard from since…

  • James R

    Our founding fathers saw the greatest threat to our republic are minority factions, for example, the NRA. Money controls our federal government law makers.

  • Kevin Egan

    I think it completely wrong to say we are “numb”: how can we be, when we have never actually experienced the full horror of these shootings? We don’t have the courage to face, to see, the consequences of our political apathy and dysfunction: we allow the police and the media to censor the images of destroyed bodies, which means that these events always exist as verbal abstractions for the overwhelming majority of people.

    Show the bodies every time, with faces digitally altered, and you will pass effective, sensible, 2nd Amendment-respecting legislation against guns within a few months. Get permission from relatives, of course–but knowing that this is our only chance to change, I think you would get it in the vast majority of cases.

    • No_Slack_Jack

      I used to be averse to this idea because I thought it would ultimately lead to society’s numbing out to the violence, but after years of seeing Operation Rescue and the other “right to life (what a BS moniker)” activists successful utilization of highly inflammatory graphic images to build public dissatisfaction w/ abortion, now would be a good time to try out that bully stick to get positive public safety improvements.

      • Beth Grant DeRoos

        Has non stop viewing of bodies killed in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other war areas by American made guns and military armament made most Americans averse to killing?

        Good grief if the killing of dozens of young children in a school in Connecticut just before the Christmas holidays cannot cause the American majority to rise up and demand their elected officials stand up to the NRA, what will it take?

        • Kevin Egan

          We don’t see those bodies either–the Pentagon used to censor the sight even of coffins returning to Air Force bases in the U.S. until Obama made them show the images. They remembered how images of battle from Vietnam turned the population against the war.

          “Out of sight, out of mind”–that cliche has a profound truth in it, and Jack’s allusion to Operation Rescue supports the point also, as does the recent success of Carly Fiorina–in her case, a graphic *word picture* motivated tens of thousands of people and tripled her support overnight. It’s a sad truth: people act upon what they see much more readily than by any other means. Last example: the image of the Twin Towers falling was enough to make us spend several trillion dollars on wars. Would we have done that absent the TV pictures?

          Show the results: stop hiding the effects of assault weapons on innocent bodies.

  • chris wallace

    1. Announce a moratorium of 6 months to obtain a license for gun ownership or turn it in to the police (or equivalent agency) – no questions asked.
    2. Impose severe penalties for possession of gun without a license.
    3. Register all guns (over .177mm caliber).
    Similar laws were successfully enacted in many European countries after WW II (and in Australia in the 1990’s). The above should drastically curb gun violence in the USA but I doubt many politicians have the courage to act.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Have you ever gone to a gun store to buy a firearm? One doesn’t just hand over money and walk out with a firearm.

      The issue for me is gun shows or private owners selling firearms, where NO background check via the FBI/Justice Dept is done. This is where these firearms used in crimes are coming from.

      We also need to require that ANY one who knows of a friend or family member who is mentally unstable, be required to notify mental health, law enforcement etc.

      And that those in authority take such notifications seriously! Congresswoman Gifford and all those shot in AZ, the recent church shooting in Georgia, the theatre shooting in CO, could all have been prevented had people taken the warning of intent to kill, seriously.

      • chris wallace

        Rubbish! Your arguments are not supported by the evidence. They also make little sense.
        The real problem is: a) The proclivity of weapons in this country (300m +) and b) The failure of Congress to pass sensible nationwide effective gun control laws (fear of the NRA).

        • Another Mike

          The problem is coming up with laws that are both sensible and effective. All of the mass shootings of recent years were conducted by people who obtained their guns legally, after passing a background check, except for three: The Clackamas killer stole a rifle from a friend who had passed a background check.The New York State killer of firefighters was a convicted felon who got his next-door neighbor to buy it for him. She passed her background check. And the New Town killer’s mother had passed a background check each time she bought a gun.

          • chris wallace

            This suggests gun licensing laws are ineffective and the vetting process is inadequate. Anyone licensed to own a gun has to be held accountable for the weapon. What is the purpose for owning the weapon? Where will the weapon be kept when not in use (in a safe place under lock and key)? etc. and a licensed gun owner should be subject to random police checks. If a weapon is stolen it should be reported immediately. The rules for gun ownership in the UK and Australia are very effective and are also very strict; but they work. In a country like the US with so many guns, where does one start? In my opinion, all guns must first be registered. This is probably impossible to implement without a moratorium: Register all guns or turn them in to the police (6mo to 1 year, no questions asked). It will be messy, but it can work if there is a will. Unfortunately, I don’t think the will is there yet. Perhaps a few more senseless killings will do the trick?

  • No_Slack_Jack

    Greetings Forum,

    I wish you didn’t have to present today’s topic, but thank you for attending to such a sad occasion.

    As the father of a 16-year old male child, and as one who grew up with BB-guns in a region where hunting is a regular part of life, I have been exposed to 2 very different sides of firearms in American society. When I was my son’s age, I saw and was trained in the safe use of firearms as tools; and now I see how our kids are trained about firearms by ridiculous bloodlust entertainment in the form of what can only be described as “demented” video games. I have watched much of my son’s video gaming and I can confirm that all of the cited shootings are directly lifted from these games in terms of weapon choices; body armor; use of IED’s; flagrant destruction, not neutralization of threats, but innocent bystanders (a.k.a., collateral damage) too; the way the shooters move and acquire new targets throughout the game-space; the perpetrators’ temporal sense; the senses of mission and power; the quest for fame via high-scores which are derived from “kill streaks;” and then the will to die as if there is a “respawn” waiting for them, which points to a real imbalance in sense of mission versus the cost of the mission.

    This strikes me as the confluence of 1) a society that has willingly ignored this sick “training” (because of the protections under freedom of speech), with 2) a societal egoism which has quit caring about other people particularly when involved with advancing one’s notoriety, and then in combination with 3) a society that is convinced it can correct all wrongs via violence/executive action. Frankly, there are even more vectors that contribute to this problem, but the scope begs to be limited.

    IMO, the important point here is that we need to look at this as a complex societal psychosis, it has several tentacles that define it and for us to reign this behavior in, it will take a complex approach that addresses the interplay of the related tentacles. As a start, it seems critical to start examining the reality that we live in a world of rapidly increasing “virtual reality,” and yes, high-tech video gaming very much pursues the most immersive and virtually real presentation that it can possibly deliver because that is what the market demands. Will we invoke some sort of “governor” to keep ourselves on a philosophically sound path?

    • Another Mike

      While I don’t believe it is possible for video game play to turn a normal person into a crazed killer, I do think it is possible for a crazed killer to obsessively play these video games.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    One question not being seriously discussed is why are young white males committing these killings? Young white males.

  • EIDALM

    Something real wrong with this society when one person mentally ill or not have 13 guns in their possession .

  • Another Mike

    Let us wait a bit until the facts come out before proposing solutions. Realize the state of Oregon recently implemented a law requiring that all private party sales go through a licensed dealer who runs a background check before the transfer can take place. And the mother and son came from California with its strict gun laws just a couple of years ago.

    Guns aren’t cheap — where did the money come from, when were the guns purchased, where were they purchased? And the killer graduated from a school designed for the learning disabled and the emotionally disturbed. Was he emotionally disturbed? If so, how can we keep the emotionally disturbed from arming themselves?
    And what role did the mother play in all this?

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Mike you bring up some excellent points. We know in the Sandy Hook case that the mother not only purchased the firearms but took her son to the shooting range even though he was autistic and should not have had access to any firearms.

      Am a high functioning autistic and I refuse to have any firearms in our home. Not only because of my autism but because my late husband who was left disabled by a drunk driver had severe depression and I feared he would kill himself.

      We learned today that some of the firearms the young man in Oregon used were bought by family members.

      • Another Mike

        I think responding to your concerns the way you did is quite wise. We grew up with guns in the house, but even with normal adolescent angst, we never dreamed of acting out with them.

        • Beth Grant DeRoos

          Grew up in a hunting family (food not trophy hunting) and never touched my Dads firearms simply because they did NOT belong to me.

          Yet we read of children getting their hands on a family members firearm and accidentally killing a sibling or friend.

          Seems some parents are not keeping firearms locked up or lecturing the child(ren) on the fact the firearms are NOT their so do not touch!!

    • Ehkzu

      If you want the facts to come out about gun violence, get Congress to rescind its ban on gun violence research by federal agencies, in place for over two decades now–done of course at the behest of the gun industry, which didn’t like the facts that were coming out before then.

      • Another Mike

        I think it is telling that the ban is not on gun research but on gun control advocacy.
        There are plenty of gun researchers, all over the country, like our own Dr. Wintemute of UC Davis. Johns Hopkins is a hotbed of gun research, Harvard, and so on. Further, the ban applies only to the CDC. The DoJ, Department of Labor, etc. are free to do research.

      • Beth Grant DeRoos

        Ehkzu excellent point!! After the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston SC killings in June it was noted that a majority of law enforcement offices in the states still do not let the feds know how many deaths by firearms are committed. The only ones we know of are those that are reported.

  • MattCA12

    This tragic event was driven by our fame-obsessed and hyper-media driven culture. Nothing to do with mental health. Nothing to do with the prevalence of guns in our society.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor