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The Washington, DC-based Coalition to Stop Gun Violence made the following statement today in response to the mass shooting yesterday at Umpqua Community College:

We were sickened and angered yesterday at the news of another mass shooting tragedy, at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. We are devastated to see so many additional families destroyed by preventable gun violence. At CSGV, we have survivors of gun violence working on our staff and they feel these days intensely. We hope those affected by this tragedy will be able to find comfort and support in the tough days ahead, but as the President said last night, thoughts and prayers are not enough. We need to fundamentally change the discussion about gun violence in this country.

Yesterday’s tragedy should end the juvenile debate about “gun-free zones” perpetuated by the gun lobby and those who fetishize firearms. Umpqua Community College allows students to request permission to carry their concealed handguns on campus, and media reports yesterday confirmed that at least some were doing so when killer Chris Harper-Mercer attacked the campus.

MSNBC interviewed a UCC student named John Parker, Jr. who has a concealed carry permit and was armed on the Umpqua campus yesterday (but in a different building than the shooter).

“I know there’s many people on campus who concealed carry,” Parker told the reporter, adding:

When we found out there was an active shooter on campus, we were going to go see if we could intervene. Veterans are trained—be it Air Force, Navy, Marines, or Army. We’re trained to go into danger, not just run away from it. 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 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.

According to Parker, law enforcement at the scene inspected his concealed handgun permit and allowed him to drive home.

Let’s rid ourselves of tired old canards and engage in evidence-based conversations about how to prevent suicidal young people and other dangerous individuals from having unfettered access to high powered firearms. As the President has pointed out, we have done this and enacted meaningful regulations for virtually every other consumer product in America—including automobiles—and these regulations have saved countless lives. It’s time to do it with guns.

We have seen a cultural reckoning recently in this country on issues like gay marriage and the Confederate flag. We are approaching a reckoning on the gun issue as well. The preposterous notion that our society should have to endure such regular horrors to live in freedom is a worn out and hollow idea that is being exposed for all to see.

The President was right. We are collectively responsible for the bad policies that have led to this constant suffering. We all have to ask ourselves how important this issue is to us. Do we want to build a better America for our children? If the answer is yes, then we must begin to engage in the hard but rewarding work of democracy by applying constant, sustained pressure on the elected officials putting our loved ones in harm’s way.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy. CSGV can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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