Gun-loving conservatives and their NRA-bought legislators pounced on President Obama’s decision to visit with the families of victims murdered in the massacre at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, slamming him for “politicizing a tragedy” and doing everything possible to prevent our nation from having a conversation about passing reasonable gun reform to rein in the epidemic of gun violence that grips our nation. The truth of the matter was, inevitably, quite a different story.
The President did not use the meeting as a chance to push his gun-reform agenda. Instead, he used it to emphasize with the families and share their grief. “I’ve obviously got very strong feelings about this,” said Obama. “When you talk to these families, you’re reminded that this could be happening to your child, or your mom, or your dad or your relative or your friend. But today it’s about the families.”
Chris Dietz, whose ex-wife Kim was shot to death while teaching at UCC, was very moved by his meeting with the President. He told People magazine that:
“A lot of people can seem larger than life. Especially somebody on TV all the time, big important people like that. Certainly all the security presence is impressive. But he’s a very personable man. Have you ever had encounters where there was a lot more feeling involved than the words that were said? That’s the kind of meeting this was. He’s the president of the United States, but he was very there in the moment with us. It was a good feeling.”
Dietz also had some harsh words for our country’s healthcare system, very concerned about those who fall through the cracks but somehow still have access to deadly weapons. “The mental health system in this country was dismantled back in the ’80s, and it’s never been put back together. Situations like this are a part of that.”
President Obama’s meeting was a beautiful display of true leadership. Sidestepping the politics for the moment and making sure the people of America knows he really supports us, in times both good and bad. The right-wing’s relentless smear campaigns against him and against the people’s efforts to enact some kind of reasonable gun reform is an absolute disgrace to our nation and an insult to all the Americans who are killed by guns every week. The madness has to stop at some point.
Authorities identified the nine victims as 19-year-old Lucero Alcaraz, of Roseburg; 18-year-old Quinn Glen Cooper, of Roseburg; 59-year-old Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, of Roseburg; 18-year-old Lucas Eibel, of Roseburg; 67-year-old teacher Lawrence Levine, of Glide; Jason Dale Johnson, of Winston; 18-year-old Rebecka Ann Carnes, of Myrtle Creek; 44-year-old Sarena Dawn Moore, of Myrtle Creek; and 20-year-old Treven Taylor Anspach, of Sutherlin.
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.