How Will We Respond?

The U.S. is reeling from yet another school shooting – the 45th this year – in which a 26-year old man killed ten and wounded seven others at a community college in Oregon. The shooter had six guns with him (and another seven at his apartment) and was also armed with a flak jacket with steel plates and five magazines of ammo.

“America is the only developed country where when someone asks if you heard about that campus shooting, you have to clarify, ‘Which one?’ That is unacceptable. Something has to change,” Colin Goddard, one of the survivors of the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, commented.

This is unacceptable. In the words of President Obama the other day, “our thoughts and prayers are not enough.” By all means, let us pray for those who were killed and injured, and for their families and friends. And let us pray for the shooter. But that is not enough. We need to do more.

I believe that part of what we have to do is enact meaningful gun control, a position I know not everyone agrees with.

But I also don’t believe gun control is the total answer. The shooter in this case, according to one news report, left behind a document that “bitterly referred to his lonely existence with few human contacts outside of the Internet.” He spoke of an “isolated life with little promise.”

Too many young people fall through the cracks. They lack family ties or other supports. In his speech to Congress last week, Pope Francis called attention to “those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young.” He said that while many of them look forward to a future of countless possibilities, “so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair.”

The question is: What are we as a society, as a Church, as brothers and sisters, going to do about that?