Today is a particularly somber day as we remember and honor the lives taken from families by mass shooters at Umpqua Community College in 2015 and the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas just two years later. Our hearts and thoughts are with the families and communities as we continue to work in their honor to reduce gun violence.
The Umpqua Community College shooting in Snyder Hall left ten dead, including the shooter and eight injured. In 2018, Snyder Hall was replaced with a new building named Taphòytha´, pronounced duh-POY-tuh, a Native American word that comes from the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Indian Tribe. Taphòytha´means to be blessed or to prosper.
The Las Vegas shooting left 58 people dead, 422 suffering from gunshot injuries and another 429 injured in the panic. It was the single deadliest shooting committed by one person in U.S. history.
In the years since these mass shootings, Congress banned bump stocks which the Las Vegas shooter used to fire his semi-automatic weapons at a rate similar to that of a fully automatic firearm. But in a deadly move, Congress refused to take additional action to prevent mass shootings or at least reduce the high rate of death and injury.
Some people believe that both locations were gun-free zones. That is simply untrue. A 2011 Oregon Appeals Court decision stated that all Oregon public schools, including K-12 and community colleges, must allow concealed handgun license holders to bring loaded guns on campus. An armed concealed handgun license holder was on campus that terrible day but was not able to stop–or prevent–the shooting.
Caleb Keeter, a musician who was at the Las Vegas concert, stated, “”We actually have members of our crew with CHL [concealed handgun license] licenses, and legal firearms on the bus,” Keeter said. “They were useless. We couldn’t touch them for fear the police might think that we were part of the massacre and shoot us.”
Our legislators must stop protecting the gun manufacturers’ profits and turn their attention to protecting lives. We know that strong, effective legislation including licensing, registration, safe storage and banning military-style assault guns, high capacity magazines, and ghost guns save lives.
Today, please honor those lost on this day in mass shootings, suicides, domestic violence, and any other means by taking action. Please contact your legislators to tell them you support licensing and registration for firearm owners and firearms; holding gun owners responsible when they recklessly do not secure their guns; and a ban on military-style assault guns, high-capacity magazines, and ghost guns.