In 20 years as an administrator in higher education in the US I have only been in a lockdown on campus once, but you don’t forget how anxious you felt after getting a call from the security office that there is someone armed with a gun on campus and that the police are chasing him, instructing you to keep your office locked and the staff inside. You and your staff are relatively safe in one of the administrative buildings, but you are mostly concerned about your students and instructors, who are scattered all over the campus and may be at much higher risk. However, there is nothing you can do but wait until the all clear signal is given. In this case that was after three hours, when the gunman, a drug dealer who had first shot a policeman in the leg, had been shot and killed by the police, and the on-site investigation of the shootout had ended. From my office I could see the whole thing unfold at a distance. All afternoon I saw the red and blue lights of police cars and the white lights of fire trucks and heard their sirens. Now two weeks ago there was another lockdown on the same campus, for the same reason. Fortunately I’m no longer there.
On Friday President Obama traveled to Roseburg, Oregon, to offer his condolences to the families of the nine victims of the shooting at Umpqua Community College and comfort them. The members of one of the families refused to meet with him because they are opposed to gun control, and Obama was awaited by a sizeable crowd of gun lovers who were openly carrying their hardware, which must have given the secret service a solid headache. On the same day there were two more deadly shootings on college campuses, one in Arizona and one in Texas. About Roseburg the usual suspects plus Donald Trump came with their obligatory statements that the shooting was caused by a mental health issue and that the availability of guns had nothing to do with it, which made me wonder why nobody in this crowd has ever proposed an overhaul of mental healthcare in the US. GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson went entirely off the deep end by declaring that the victims should jointly have attacked the shooter and that what happened to them would never have happened to him. Apparently he didn’t know that the shooter had been attacked.
When it comes to guns in the US insanity rules, in spite of the fact that a majority of Americans and even a majority of NRA members support what is called ‘common sense’ gun control, such as background checks and closing down the gun shows where 40% of all the guns are sold. Obama may try to issue executive orders to that effect, and Hillary Clinton has a similar agenda, but although developed with good intentions and more than just window dressing, it is not enough.
There are well over 300 million guns in the US, one for every citizen. Even if background checks become mandatory and loopholes are closed there are still far too many weapons in the hands of those who should not have them. A good start would be to require every gun owner in the country to become licensed and to weed out the crazies and the crooks in the process.
An even better step would be to get rid of the second amendment altogether. It was adopted in 1791, when people had one-shot muskets, not assault weapons, and based on an English Bill of Rights from 1689, which has long since been abandoned. If that is not insane, what is?