Editorial: The shot(s) heard round the world

There have been over 350 mass shootings in the United States alone in the last year, which are defined as when a shooter opens fire in a public place and kills four or more people. With the attack in San Bernardino on Wednesday, many have come to wonder whether or not we will ever live in a world where this isn’t a fear.

This paper discussed the terrorist attacks in Paris last month, and it again sees a concern for violence in the world in the wake of these shootings, particularly here in the United States. As an institution of higher education, we’re acutely aware of the potential for shootings on college campuses, high schools, and, somehow, even elementary schools. The question, we, like everyone, asks is “why?”

It’s impossible to answer, to find a universal understanding that will suddenly explain the motivation of all shooters because they do it for so diverse of reasons. Some do it because of where they came from, others because they’re mentally ill. Some, of course, do it to send a message, but the message communicated and the message received are often vastly different. The shooter wants to say something about a cause, but we as a people often see a call to for an end for such attacks. The issue steps into the background, and the shooter into the spotlight.

In the Planned Parenthood shooting last week, we saw someone accusing those who had an abortion of killing someone and sought to make a statement as to why they shouldn’t do that by killing others. Why do people think that violence will make this better? Why is it so often violence that people use? Why does it seem like a good idea to injure another for the sake of proving a point, a point that isn’t often proven?

No matter one’s stance on abortion, there should be no question of sympathy for the victims, their families, and their friends. No one is to blame in a shooting, but people do it anyway. Some even blame Planned Parenthood for attacks that they didn’t make happen, as though they called the shooter and requested his presence like ordering pizza. There is only one person responsible for shooting and killing others, and it’s the shooter him or herself. It’s never the victim’s fault (this paper is offended to see that victim-blaming still exists).

Canisius College is a place where we hope to never see such an attack, though, of course, Public Safety plans for it. They have to, but they then are the ones who most must confront the fear occupying the United States today, and they are the ones who will fight rather than flee in the case, God forbid, that someone opens fire on our campus, our students.

This paper wonders whether or not students recognize this fact, that Public Safety lives in fear so that we don’t have to.

This paper also wonders why society immediately goes to gun control as a solution, not necessarily because we have a stance on what should be regulated and what shouldn’t be. Why don’t we go to people, to education? We’re an institution of learning, a Jesuit liberal arts school that seeks to educate students academically and personally. We are taught to balance empathy and compassion with right and wrong. Those who commit these crimes are people too–though the degree of inhumanity evident in them is not unacknowledged–and they are people whose backgrounds are often (but not always) both explanatory of their actions and out of their control. There is a balance to strike, and justice must be found for attacker and victim.

At the end of the day, people kill people, and they do so all over the world, and it is as effective insofar as everyone lets it be. It is not effective if we do not let us stop them because the reason is often not just to take the lives of others. We as a people, as a community at Canisius, are stronger than that, even in this most stressful section of the semester.

Of course, one pre-emptive solution is just to not do it and to find the support needed. After all, psychologist Steven Pinker once said, “With violence, as with so many other concerns, human nature is the problem, but human nature is also the solution.”


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