The paragraphs below were drafted just after the “King Soopers shooting” in March of 2021. This morning, I awakened to the news that there was a mass shooting at Club Q, a LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs late last night. That’s about 90 miles south of me. My state, my people.
March 23, 2021. Yesterday afternoon, I was walking from our house to some shops a few miles away. Crossing the pedestrian bridge over the main highway, I noticed several unmarked emergency vehicles speeding towards Boulder, lights flashing. I continued on to do my shopping, and returning over that same bridge was surprised to notice yet more vehicles speeding up the highway. Once I got home, I turned to the internet and discovered that there was an “active shooter at Table Mesa King Soopers”.
Say what? That’s a few blocks from my childhood home, where my brother and his two sons still live. I’ve shopped in that store hundreds of times. Both of my nephews worked in that store as students. The good news is that my brother and nephews are safe. My brother had finished his shopping twenty minutes before the shooting. The horrible news is that ten people are dead, killed by a 21 year old with a rifle. The shooter is currently in the hospital.
Another 10 individuals, dead due to gun violence. Last week it was Atlanta. This week, it’s Boulder. Something is horribly wrong.
Immediately after news began to spread, I noticed two groups of comments on my neighborhood FB page. One was from those who feel and advocate for a reduction in access to guns. The other line was from those who said “this is why I always carry a gun, particularly if I’m shopping or with my kids” or some variation thereof. Within my own family, I know there are adherents to each viewpoint.
From my perspective, something has to change, and the answer is not more guns. Guns are designed to kill, pure and simple. More killing to stop killing is stupid. Deterrent, not so. A culture of violence, based and fear and a need to defend oneself and one’s property or people, inherently sets up an “us versus them” point of view.
November 20, 2022. This mornings headline: Colorado Springs Shooting: At least 5 dead, 25 injured at LGBTQ Club. Another one. According to today’s Washington Post, there have been more than 600 mass shootings in the US this year. What is wrong with this country, this culture that so many believe that guns and violence are the solution to anything? I’m not going to go into a long rant on polarization, the dehumanizing of groups of “others”, but its certainly part of things, as is divisiveness and cranked up fear. Early reports suggest that last nights’ shooter had been arrested in the past for threatening to bomb his family. The King Soopers shooter is also mentally ill, still unfit for trial nearly two years later.
Most people with mental illness aren’t violent. I’ve retired from my practice working with people with trauma and PTSD, but violence against others wasn’t common, and a great deal of research supports this. And in Colorado, we do have a “red flag” law, which allows a person’s weapons to be confiscated in certain circumstances. And yet, here we have another shooting, and a lot of people who want more guns. It isn’t a healthy solution to anything. More violence isn’t the cure for violence, or hatred, or anything else. While I doubt that controlling assault weapon ownership will resolve the issue, a law in this direction can certainly reduce the problem (see Australia).
I don’t have a solution. I’m sad that there is so much gun violence and so much word violence and hate speech around. It makes people easier to manipulate, so is a common tool for politicians and those interested in selling anything.
But really, we are all in this life together. I wish we would all remember this. To quote the Dalai Lama: “my religion is kindness”.
Peace and healing to us all.