The Sunday before the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, Wartburg Seminary joined with Loras College, Clarke University and the University of Dubuque for a march and rally at UD. “Life is irreplaceable. End gun violence” was the theme. Dr. Jeremy Brigham, who had been at the University of Iowa during the mass shooting on that campus in 1991 and is now the Executive Director for Iowans for Gun Safety, was the main speaker saying that “Guns create a climate of fear.”
Professor David C Cochran of Loras College was one of the local professors to introduce the main speaker. Here are some of his opening remarks: “Human violence is complex. Innate aggression, brain development and impulse control, peer groups, cultural, and economic forces make it more or less likely. And that is why it can be difficult to address and make sense of showing violent acts. Gun violence shares these underlying complexities. Guns make it much easier to kill. They amplify violence and make it far more deadly.”
Cochran went on to say that gun violence is primarily a function of access to guns. “The United States with 4.5% of the world’s population has almost half of all civilian-owned guns so we shouldn’t be surprised when people use them to kill each other. Our rate of violent incidents is similar to other countries. We are not any more violent. What is different is the number of dead bodies that result. Homicide is much higher than comparable countries. Suicide is much greater; the success rate of guns (96%) is much higher than other methods (8% for poison). Mass shootings now has risen to an average of around one a day in 2015.” For more information, click here.
“‘Guns don’t kill people, people do’ is correct. People do kill people, which is why the more available guns are to people, the more we kill each other with them. The United States has made a choice. We have plentiful and accessible guns. By choosing this, we pay the price of more people dead than would be otherwise. In other countries people sometimes behave violently. We are unique in making it much more likely that there will be a gun around when doing so.”
Dr. Cochran is author of Catholic Realism and the Abolition of War (Orbis Books).
The students and professors marched with townspeople. Sponsoring organizations were Dubuque Coalition for Non-Violence, Dubuque Area Congregations United, Children of Abraham, and Dubuque International Day of Peace. They did not know that a few days later their contemporaries would be gunned down in Roseburg, Oregon. But they knew that in rural areas, small cities and urban metropolises everywhere, we are not safe from one another. My taking a gun to class and students having a permit to carry a concealed weapon will not make our campuses safer. Together we marched. Together we talked, and listened, and planned and took action. We can be dangerous to one another. Or together we can act and change things in this country.