Kalamazoo shooting spree brings national epidemic closer to home

Saturday night, the 42nd mass shooting of 2016 happened in the United States.

That means in the past 50 days, there has essentially been a shooting that took the lives of at least four people once every 34 hours. Saturday night, that killing happened much closer to home.

As a gun-crazed killer took to the streets of Kalamazoo, people all over Michigan felt the pain and worry that many have likely become desensitized to as these tragedies have grown so common in our culture.

In the years following the Columbine and Sandy Hook murders, headlines have been filled with mass shooting after mass shooting, and try as they might, officials have yet to find a solution to the problem.

Until now, most folks in Michigan have not had to deal with the direct pain that comes with these senseless crimes. While the continual problem is certainly unsettling and plenty have hurt over the endless violence, it has always been at arm’s length — in another state with few (if any) people we know.

Less than 60 miles from home, most people in southwest Michigan know someone who lives in Kalamazoo, or someone who lived there at some point. Many of us have visited the city for concerts, sporting events, college visits or school trips.

The point is, unlike the string of violent acts that have occurred in our country in the last several years, this one hits very close to home.

It’s easy to turn our heads to crimes committed hundreds of miles away, to wait for others to make a change and solve the problem.

But now that we have felt the fear that so many have felt, it is Michigan’s turn to seek solutions to stop these murders from happening.

Could these crimes have been prevented? Could six innocent people be home with their families tonight, and countless others have been saved the pain of mourning their loss?

Yes, the crime in Kalamazoo was completely random and we may never know the motive of the madness, but something has to be done to end the violence.

Now that this epidemic has made its way to our state, we challenge our local legislators to open their eyes and take a good, hard look at the mental health treatment deficiencies, gun laws and background checks.

We can argue until we’re blue in the face about civil liberties, but at some point, we have to open our eyes to the fact that the right to life trumps any other right we are given as Americans.

It’s time to stop the violence.

 

Opinions expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Ambrosia Neldon, Craig Haupert, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.

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