In the aftermath of the gun massacre in Roseburg, Oregon, the chorus of gun zealots already can be heard sounding the same cynical refrain they always chant -- more guns save lives and gun-free zones kill people.
However, the tragedy's lasting lament is even louder -- guns don't belong in the classroom.
The Roseburg gun massacre relates directly to protests raised by educators in Texas after the State Legislature passed a law that allows guns on public university campuses.
In his anguished statement after the shootings President Obama asked incredulously, "We need more guns, they'll argue. Fewer gun safety laws. Does anybody really believe that?"
Yes they do, and they want to put them in my classroom too. That is why I say and repeat often that the Texas State Legislature went one gun too far when they put firearms in my classroom at the University of Texas at El Paso.
The Roseburg shooter owned a dozen firearms legally. All legally purchased and legally carried in Oregon. Oregon is one of seven states that allow carrying of concealed weapons on public college campuses. And the killer was himself a student at the college in the classes where he shot the students and the teacher.
Merely carrying guns on a campus does not mean that a heroic individual will rise and counter-attack. Actually, a student carrying a concealed gun was nearby as the killings occurred and he decided not to act. This is what John Parker, Jr., told MSNBC:
If there was something we were able to do, we were going to try to do it. Luckily we made the choice not to get involved. 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 the their response time, they wouldn't know who we were, and if we had our guns ready to shoot they could think we were the bad guys.
Parker made the right choice. And the right choice, not to get killed just because you are carrying a gun, is another hole in the campus-carry rationalization that carrying a gun will make you a hero and that armed heroes will save lives.
There are enough guns in America, some 300 million in private hands legally and plenty of people die from gunshots daily, routinely, virtually unnoticed. Estimates range as high as 32,000 deaths per year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 406,496 people died by firearms in the U.S. from 2001 to 2013, including homicides, accidents and suicides.
Putting more firearms on public university campuses in Texas only disrupts the security of the classroom and endangers students and faculty.
Yes, the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right of Americans to keep and bear arms, but in the 21st century this right must be exercised rationally and common sense legislation is necessary to prevent senseless mass murder by killers who should not have legal access to guns.
Criminals with illegally obtained guns did not commit the mass gun killings of recent years -- 11 during the Obama presidency. No, the shooters are mostly similar to the Roseburg killer. You wouldn't notice him in a grocery store, and was not flagged by any law as he purchased his weapons. He was probably also unnoticed in class.
Some blame mental illness, but that is just a red herring in an ocean of guns. I blame the easy access to guns, the lack of any sensible legislation designed to weed out likely killers, mentally ill or not, and the gutless politicians we elect to office. The gun lobby opposes any such legislation and their full-court press on all politicians is unrelenting and successful.
The rally at the University of Texas in Austin last Thursday protesting the Texas campus carry law virtually at the same time the killer was shooting in Roseburg, drew national attention when Frank Bruni of the New York Times wrote about the Texas law:
"This is madness. When it comes to guns, we have lost our bearings in this country, allowing misguided chest-thumping about a constitutional amendment penned in an entirely different epoch, under entirely different circumstances, to trump all prudence and decency," Bruni wrote in Sunday's editions.
Here in Texas, I can only hope that UT system officials and each university president will fight against the implementation of this crazy law, fight it on the campuses and fight it in the courts.