On two previous occasions, I have used the Americas Quarterly blog as a space to talk about gun violence. The incidents in Aurora (July 2012) provoked one, and another surfaced when remembering the events of Montreal’s Polytechnique Engineering School in 1989 where 14 women were gunned down. We can also recall Virginia Tech, Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Dawson College as further evidence that gun violence is still very prevalent. All this violence has occurred on school campuses involving assailants with serious mental problems.
Now we have the sad and scary events in Santa Barbara. As the parent of one of the victims said last Saturday: when will it stop?
This past weekend we were exposed to the YouTube video of the alleged killer in Santa Barbara where six people died and 13 were injured. The footage was chilling to watch and was replayed continuously over various newscasts. The killing rummage was quick and sudden and it surfaced that the assailant purchased his weapon and armaments legally.
It would be easy to say this is an American problem and that we in Canada can only shake our heads in disbelief, especially given that these killing sprees are more frequent in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world. However, violence does not stop at the border as we have seen all too often.
Opponents of gun regulations point to the need for greater support in dealing with law enforcement and security matters. Some argue that it is neither the access to nor the quantity of firearms that is the issue, but the support system dealing with security of school campuses, and the treatment of patients suffering from mental illness.
Granted, there are support needs that go underfunded, and problems with mentally-ill individuals that go unnoticed. Yet, the facility with which an individual can purchase a firearm legally and the quantity of these firearms available needs to be revisited. The gun lobby is not on the ballot come election time.
Breaking news, shock and grieving have become all too common on our screens. Repeating the YouTube video all weekend did nothing to comfort parents who fear the thought of a gunman rampaging on a school campus. In fact, the wide-spread videos may actually encourage copycat criminal activity. It is time for policymakers to do the right thing and not cater to the special interests, in particular, the gun lobby. Otherwise, it will only be a matter of time before we have another Santa Barbara.