Editorial: Don’t jump to conclusions or legislation after shooting


Published Dec 18, 2012 at 04:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

The impulse to rush into action in the wake of a tragedy like the one in Newtown, Conn., last week is understandable. The idea that someone can walk into a school — or a theater or shopping mall — and simply begin shooting is appalling.

There have been plenty of suggestions to introduce legislation in the last few days.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has said she will introduce legislation next month to reinstate the national ban on assault weapons, which lapsed in 2004. A similar measure will be introduced in the House of Representatives. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, meanwhile, believes gun control should be the president’s top priority in the months ahead.

The proposals don’t stop at the federal level, either, and they’re not all aimed at limiting access to certain types of guns or ammunition.

Here in Oregon, state Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, told three school superintendents in southern Oregon that bans on weapons at schools must be lifted. He believes, he said, that every school should have at least three people on campus trained to use firearms and armed in case they need to do so.

That proposal, by the way, did not sit well with the Medford chief of police. “Teachers don’t go into teaching to be police officers,” he said. Expecting them to use a gun effectively in moments of crisis is not rational unless they train “constantly” for that sort of situation, he added.

What we knew Friday morning about the Sandy Hook School shooting is not what we knew Monday, and what we knew Monday is not likely to be what we’re certain of by Thursday.

Friday, for example, we “knew” that shooter Adam Lanza’s mother had been a teacher at the Sandy Hook Elementary School; by Monday we knew that wasn’t true. We also knew by Monday that Lanza’s brother was not involved in the shooting.

Until authorities and the public have a much more clear understanding of what actually occurred during Friday’s tragedy, changes to the law may miss the mark. We shouldn’t forget how these recent shootings made us feel. But we should give the victims a response marked by thoughtfulness, not just speed.