It really is astonishing that the knee-jerk reaction that many Americans have to mass shootings is to reflexively freak out about the possibility that we might take steps to rein in the reckless proliferation of firearms in our nation. It is equally horrifying to learn firsthand just how directly that fuels the likelihood of such atrocities happening again. New evidence reveals that the mother of the Oregon shooter is a paranoid Second Amendment zealot who actively encouraged her son’s fascination with firearms, even though she knew he had mental issues.
Laurel Harper is a nurse who was very open about her love for guns. Former patient Shelley Steele said that Harper told her that “she had multiple guns and believed wholeheartedly in the Second Amendment and wanted to get all the guns she could before someone outlawed them.” Steele also revealed that Harper was very aware of her son’s mental problems, but often took him shooting anyway. “She told my husband she just purchased some new guns a few weeks ago and took him shooting. I thought the whole situation was very strange. If you know your son has mental health issues, do you encourage a fascination with guns?”
The Oregon shooter had four weapons on him, all legally purchased, when he walked into Umpqua Community College and brutally massacred nine people before killing himself. There were ten more weapons recovered from his apartment. The reaction from the right has been the same as it always has been- distracting false narratives about “gun free zones” (which the college was not), blaming mental illness, and obstinately resisting all attempts to engage in a rational discussion about the epidemic of shootings that kill thousands of our citizens every year. The rise of gun sales after these tragedies just goes to show how dysfunctional our nation is and how giant a battle we have yet to fight if we have any hope of saving our citizens from themselves.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.