Again, society must grapple with issues of gun violence, school safety and our rights

Another week, another tragic and senseless shooting.

Has society become accustomed to news that another male has walked into a school, movie theater or shopping mall and opened fire?

What should our response be? Outrage, one would think, but that outrage doesn’t seem to rise to the level where we are willing to take definitive action.

Portland Mayor Charles Hales, commenting after last week’s shooting at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, renewed his call for stricter state gun laws. He pointed to our neighbor to the north, Washington, which recently implemented a law that requires that people who have restraining orders against them turn in their firearms.June 18 editorial

Hales lauded the law as simple common sense and we would agree if it weren’t for the knowledge that restraining orders are typically temporary, while giving up one’s firearms to a government agency could very well be permanent.

And, unfortunately, the Washington law would do nothing to stop the increase of shootings in the schools.

Other people are calling on the media to censor their coverage of these massacres to eliminate the name of the shooter and, some contend, the details of the shootings. They believe that if the shooters remain anonymous they will not receive the publicity they seek and will stop short of arming themselves.

It’s an interesting concept and, if the media operated in a void, might even be possible. But the truth is that in today’s everybody-is-a-journalist, post “facts” to Twitter and Facebook within minutes of them happening society, the name of a shooter is often on the Web even before the police respond.

What’s more, media outlets need to be more, not less, thorough in their reporting of these incidents. It’s important, for society’s sake, that journalists roll up their sleeves, check and recheck their sources and render the kind of journalism that will actually help people understand, as much as possible, these senseless acts.

Unfortunately, in their drive to be first, to “scoop” the competition, some media did little to distinguish themselves last week when covering the Reynolds shootings. Info was presented as facts, then quickly retracted. Assumptions were made without access to real information. Whole reports were done that contained nothing but speculative posts to social media sites.

We would call on government agencies, legislators and school officials to sit down and produce common sense practices to curb the scourge of shootings, but we are not hopeful that would render anything of substance.

Perhaps nothing can be done. We suspect we’ll be addressing this issue again in the near future, and again, and again ...

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