Letters to the editor

The views expressed in letters to the editor are exclusively those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Santa Rosa Junior College, the Oak Leaf or its staff.

Consider other countries’ solutions to gun violence

My opinion on this issue [of gun violence], is that I hate how people are trying to blame violent video games, or mental illnesses. Other countries have these too. The reason other countries don’t have so many school shootings is because they have better gun control.

I wish people would stop trying to point fingers elsewhere, just because they want to keep their guns. Yes, criminals would still find ways to obtain guns illegally, but haven’t most of the school shootings have been with guns that had been obtained legally, by a parent or a friend?

I think we need to look at what steps other countries have made to reduce this sort of violence, because whatever they have done could not have raised the crime rate by much, otherwise they would have reversed the changes.

– a member of the Santa Rosa Junior College community


A call for day of remembrance and contemplation

On October 2, in an email to all the faculty and staff of Santa Rosa Junior College, I proposed that SRJC cancel all classes and other scheduled activities on Thursday October 8, as a response to the shootings at Umpqua Community College of October 1.

Over the weekend, faculty and staff discussed and debated this proposal and the many related issues on the email list.

Few spoke in favor of staying away, while many of those who wrote argued that we should meet on campus and use the day to teach the issues.

After reflecting on these responses, I wish now to make one last call for closing the school, because I think doing so would offer us a rare chance to teach some hard lessons, both to ourselves, and to audiences far beyond the borders of the SRJC campus.

The first lesson is that we at SRJC—along with teachers, students and staff at schools around the country—are not safe from random, mass violence—not safe from the man with a gun. This is an uncomfortable truth, but it should make us much more uncomfortable than we are to reflect on the toll of the dead and injured at schools around the country in recent years—on the traumatized survivors, the shattered communities and, pathetically, the larger society that increasingly accommodates itself to this horrible “routine,” as President Obama puts it, and goes about its business.

By breaking that routine, by leaving the college empty and silent for a day, and telling the world that we’re doing so, and why, we might also, perhaps, begin to teach that larger society to awaken from their numbed routine, and to realize that their lives, too, are threatened by the man with the gun.

We have an opportunity as a teaching community here to do our neighbors and fellow citizens a good turn, because they don’t seem to recognize or understand either our lack of safety or their own—our collective national response to massacre upon massacre at schools and so many other places now for many years, has been to do—nothing.

We have a rare opportunity now, as educators, to stop, to reflect, to understand and then to communicate to the entire country that this is a national problem, and it will require a national solution. We will not solve the problem by ourselves here at SRJC, no matter how much thoughtful, well-informed, innovative teaching we do, how much caring we show, how many locks we put on doors, how many sessions on responding to an active shooter we attend. 

Worse, these worthwhile efforts themselves risk becoming our own form of accommodation to the threat, of routinizing it.

The President of the United States is trying to lead us; in response to the attack in Oregon he’s called the country out to join him in denouncing and stopping the routinizing of mass murder. We have an opportunity now, as a community college collective, to do just that.

We need to break the routine. We need to change our laws, and to change our culture. We are, most of us, and particularly those of us in schools, living in thrall to a minority who are in love with the idea of the man with a gun. In this minority’s vision of a good society, we simply assume that “bad guys with guns” bent on violence might be anywhere at any time, and that the only response is “good guys with guns,” ready to threaten violence or to use violence.

As these murders become routine, we drift closer and closer to living in the sick fantasy of this minority. We need to understand, and to profess, that it’s not a vision of a good society—it’s a vision of bloody anarchy, dominated by violent, paranoid men with guns, a wild west where no one is safe anywhere, ever, where everyone is armed to the teeth, and ready at any moment—at the office, in the restaurant, at church, in school, in each and every classroom—to draw and open fire.

I don’t think this is fear-based thinking, but, alas, merely the truth. A sane and meaningful response to what is frightening requires us first to recognize what is frightening, to take its measure and to understand it. It’s worth taking a day to do this.

One last, uncomfortable question. If we do meet here as usual, and teach about these issues, and attend a Town Hall meeting and attend the active shooter sessions—then what are we going to do the next time this happens?

It’s going to happen again. It probably won’t happen here, but it might. Let’s think ahead for a minute. How will we respond the next time?

– SRJC English department faculty member Terry Mulcaire


The Oak Leaf welcomes your opinions. To submit your letter to the editor for possible publishing, email us at [email protected]