Well, it's happened again. There's been another mass shooting in America.
On Thursday, 26 year-old Christopher Harper-Mercer walked onto the campus of Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon and shot 18 people, killing 9 of them. He then killed himself in an apparent suicide, after a brief shootout with police.
In any other country on Earth, this would be major news. In the United States, we've learned to live with it. So far in 2015, there have been 45 school shootings in America. In just 274 days, there have been 294 mass shootings - in schools, bars, churches, restaurants, movie theaters, and almost any other public place where Americans gather.
How common are mass shootings in the United States? So common that presidential candidate Jeb Bush, when asked what he would do to stop the violence, shrugged his shoulders and responded, "Look, stuff happens."
Gun lovers, meanwhile, were quick to point out that the Umpqua shootings took place in a so-called "gun-free zone," even though they didn't. On UCC's website, its rules regarding firearms are clear: "Possession, use, or threatened use of firearms... except as expressly authorized by law or college regulations, is prohibited."
The key words on the UCC website are "expressly authorized by law." UCC is not a gun-free zone. What does Oregon state law say about firearms on college campuses? In short, it says they're legal. Therefore, Umpqua Community College, like other colleges in Oregon, is not a gun-free zone.
If you're still not convinced, we also know there was at least one man on the UCC campus who was carrying a gun when the shootings began, and he was doing so legally! A "good guy with a gun," as the NRA would call him.
John Parker, an Air Force vet and student at UCC, told MSNBC he was in a building on campus with a concealed handgun when the shooting started.
"And just for the record," Parker was asked, "Oregon is one of the states that does allow post-secondary concealed carry, so what you were doing was legal here at the university?"
"Well it's not just legal here," Parker responded. "Of course our U.S. Constitution 2nd Amendment protects it, but Oregon Article 1, section 27 goes even further."
Parker, however, said he, his classmates, and his instructors decided not to get involved - even though he was carrying a firearm that, conceivably, could have stopped the violence.
"Luckily we made the choice not to get involved," Parker said. "We were quite a distance away from the actual building where it was happening, which could have opened us up to being potential targets ourselves. Not knowing where SWAT was on their response time, if we had our guns ready to shoot, they could think we were bad guys."
And therein lies the problem for gun lovers. For years, they've been telling us "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." For years, they've been telling us that gun-free zones are the problem, because they invite more gun violence. For years, they've been telling us that if more gun owners were allowed to carry in more places, less gun violence would occur.
But Air Force veteran John Parker proved, in one simple sentence, that "good guys with guns" can't always stop the violence. What happens if the good guy with a gun is in a building across campus when the shooting starts? What happens if the good guy with a gun is in the bathroom? What happens if the good guy with a gun has his earbuds in, and doesn't even hear the violence? Or, in John Parker's case, what happens if the good guy with a gun, his classmates, and his instructors decide it's not a good idea to get involved, even though he's carrying a weapon himself?
We all know the answer. In each of these scenarios, a good guy with a gun won't make a difference.
And we've seen this before. We've seen numerous examples where good guys with guns couldn't stop the violence. We've seen numerous examples where gun violence has erupted in non-gun free zones. We saw it in Shawnee, Kansas, where a gun owner was shot and killed at his own gun store. We saw it at a gun range in Florida, where a woman killed her son, then herself, before any of the "good guys with guns" could get a shot off. We saw it in Waco, Texas, where twelve armed police officers couldn't prevent a mass shooting from taking place at a bar and restaurant earlier this year. And of course, we saw it in 2013, when Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were shot and killed - while armed - at a gun range in central Texas.
In each of these cases - and many, many more just like them - multiple people were shot, and some even killed, even though the shootings took place in non-gun free zones where good guys with guns could have stopped the violence.
Now don't get me wrong; I've always believed that if a shooting occurred at my school or place of work, I'd prefer to have a gun on my person to protect myself. But I'm not delusional about it, and I do realize that carrying a gun does not necessarily make me immune to the violence. It would be nice if more gun lovers would admit this themselves. It would be nice to hear them acknowledge, once and for all, that more guns aren't necessarily the answer to gun violence. It would be nice to hear them admit that guns couldn't even protect the greatest military sniper in American history from being shot and killed himself.
When bad guys get their hands on guns, good guys can't always stop them. We know this. Our latest mass shooting in Oregon - which again, did NOT occur in a gun-free zone - is just the latest reminder that good guys with guns, as good as their intentions might be, are oftentimes no match for bad guys with guns.