The Springfield mother of a local man who died in the Colorado theater shooting said after learning of the deadly rampage in Oregon that she wishes mass killings would stop.
Jerri Jackson, whose son Matt McQuinn was killed by a mass shooter in 2012 while watching a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises,” said she has sympathy for the victims and families of those who were injured or died Thursday at Umpqua Community College.
“I think more about those who are left behind, especially the parents who are going to have to go through missing their kids. No more holidays. No more birthdays. And then the ones who survived and have to live with this for the rest of their lives,” Jackson said. “I wish I could wave a magic wand and all of this would just stop. But I don’t know what the answer is. I wish I did.”
Jackson’s comments came a day after Chris Harper Mercer killed at least nine and wounded seven others Thursday at the community college in Roseburg, Ore. Mercer died after a shootout with police.
Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly sent a message to his staff Friday morning telling them to be prepared because a mass shooting could happen in any community.
“My message was to all of my command staff to go over training every single shift, to make sure everybody is following our guidelines, our training, making sure they are wearing their vest and taking every precaution,” Kelly said. “They might think, ‘I’m just working a ball game. I’m just working at the cinema.’ But those could be potential sites where there could be gunfire and violence erupts so they have to be vigilant and prepared.”
President Barack Obama expressed frustration over the lack of gun control legislation following the shooting.
“We are the only advanced country that sees these kinds of mass shootings every few months,” Obama said.
Jackson said she favors background checks and responsible gun use. But said there needs to be more education on conflict resolution.
Ohioans for Concealed Carry spokesman Phillip Mulivor offered his condolences to families of those killed in gun tragedies. But he said stricter gun laws aren’t the answer.
Mulivor’s organization advocates for lawful, qualified people to be allowed to carry guns on college campuses like they can in coffee shops, stores and other businesses.
“If you or somebody that you love had been in that classroom in the middle of that horrific scene, wouldn’t you have wanted somebody, some good guy, a lawful, law-abiding gun owner, to be carrying a gun to defend the slaughter of those good, sweet, innocent people,” Mulivor said.
Jennifer Thorne, executive director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, said mass killings keep happening because a lack of gun regulations. She called on lawmakers to take action.
“The culture of fear that the gun lobby is so good at inspiring in order to protect the bottom line of their clients, the gun manufacturers, has made it extremely difficult to have really broad, commonsense gun regulations passed,” she said.
State Rep. Kyle Koehler said his prayers go out to the victims and the families of the Oregon mass shooting.
Koehler, who sponsored legislation to clarify how concealed carry permit holders may possess handguns in school safety zones, said he was disappointed Obama politicized the tragic shooting in Oregon.
The Springfield Republican pointed to Chicago, where Obama once lived. It has strict gun laws but more than 100 people were shot there over the past two weekends, Koehler said, but the president didn’t talk about that tragedy as he did with the victims in Oregon.
“In my opinion, I don’t believe we have an issue with guns,” Koehler said. “I believe we have an issue with society being raised to treat people the way that this shooter did … Children more and more have no respect for life.”
Jackson questioned how many of these mass shootings are copy cats and whether kids needs more education on how to handle anger or mental health issues. Media coverage may also be an issue because shooters want the notoriety, she said.
“Rather than going out and shooting somebody, go talk to somebody,” Jackson said.
She still struggles with the loss of her son more than three years after his death.
“It’s not getting any easier,” Jackson said.
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