After the shooting at Reynolds High School in Troutdale this week, media quoted many parents and students saying they never thought it could happen there.
It’s safe to assume that people said that about a movie theater, a small college town on a balmy evening, a university campus. Everyone presumes they are safe from such mayhem until they’re not.
People carrying a grudge and seeking revenge can be anywhere, small towns to big cities. People with mental illness can be anywhere. People who stop taking the drugs that help even out their troubled minds can be anywhere.
If there were an analytic about where such acts occur, law enforcement could focus on those places and perhaps avert a tragedy. But there is no way to know what town, theater or school will be the next target.
With 74 shootings at schools since Sandy Hook School in December 2012—three incidents in just the past few weeks—we have to ask if the public is getting immune to the news. “Another one?” seems to be the nation’s default response.
Should the public rely solely on law enforcement to avert mass shootings? When police are stymied by privacy laws, society needs to step in, not to be a vigilante, but to inform. After 9/11 we were told ‘if you see something, say something.’ It shouldn’t be any different on the domestic side.
As a society we value privacy, but we also value order and safety. Not getting involved in someone else’s business is generally a good rule except when it can save lives.
People in places like Keizer around the country are shocked when their town is visited by such violence. They thought it couldn’t happen there, it did. It can happen anywhere and as a society we need to be prepared for the possibility it could happen in our own town. If we see or hear something, we should say something.