Another mass shooting in America — this time at a country music dance hall in Southern California.
I woke up this morning to news alerts of the 13 people killed, including the gunman and a sheriff’s deputy trying to stop the carnage.
Within minutes, my daughter, Kendall, a Pepperdine University sophomore studying in Shanghai this school year, texted me to ask if I had heard that “a bunch of Pepperdine students” had been there.
“It’s like a super popular place, too — like I’ve been there,” she said. “Super scary.”
At that point, it really struck close to home. My son, Keaton, a junior journalism major at Oklahoma Christian University, had the same feeling. He expressed his emotions in a must-read opinion column (full disclosure: I’m his father, so perhaps I’m biased) that he wrote for his campus newspaper, The Talon.
A religion angle? Obviously, a shooting at a grill and bar will have a different storyline than one at a Baptist church or a Jewish synagogue.
But Pepperdine — which one of the victims attended — is a Christian university and organized a prayer service that drew reporters this afternoon:
“My prayer right now is for peace for our campus community and the other communities impacted by this terrible loss,” Pepperdine President Andrew K. Benton said in a statement.
Also, there are some reports of survivors praying, although my quick Googling didn’t find any immediate news coverage of that. I did notice that a USA Today reporter has replied to this tweet:
Sadly, enough of these mass shootings have occurred that we know part of what we can expect. That includes community prayer vigils and emotional funeral services where — in most cases — spiritual reflection and language will be emphasized.
In the meantime, I’ll refer you to these parting words in my son’s column that I referenced earlier:
For the first time in years, I cried this morning. I thought about the sight of the innocent people at this bar being viciously murdered. I thought about their parents, girlfriends, wives and spouses receiving the horrible news that they would never speak, see or hold their loved ones ever again. I thought about parents having to plan the funeral of their child.
If you are a pro-gun person, speak up. If you are an anti-gun person, speak up. If you offer a solution which compromises between the two sides, speak even louder. This country needs answers more than it ever has before. Just remember to be respectful, courteous and empathetic to everyone you encounter. If you say something on social media you would never say in person, you are doing things wrong.
If the American people remain apathetic—distracted by video games, sports, work obligations, homework and movies—nothing will change, and more people will die. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that guilt on my conscience.