On Wednesday, the worst occured in the United States…again. Phone calls were made, survivors taken to the hospital, and the headlines poured out across the media.
Why are mass shootings beginning to feel monotonous?
For the families and friends of those murdered by gunfire at Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, and to thousands of Americans across the country, it is clear that this shooting could have been prevented.
The names change but the story does not. This time the shooting was in California; this time the shooting was at the Borderline Bar & Grill.
The bar was having its “College Night” and college students from the neighboring school, Pepperdine University, were present when the gunman opened fire. Alaina Housley was a first-year student at Pepperdine and one of twelve victims.
Other victims included one of the first responders and a police officer who lost his life entering the bar while the perpetrator was still actively firing gunshots. Sgt. Ron Helus ran into the bar to attempt to stop the shooter from hurting or killing any other civilians inside. He died in the hospital of the wounds he sustained. Now Helus is being hailed as a hero for his selfless act of courage in putting the lives of those inside the bar above his own.
For two men in particular, the shooting was nothing less than entering a nightmare that had already been lived. Telemachus Orfanos and Brendon Kelly were both present at the Las Vegas shooting at the Country Music Festival in 2017. Brendon Kelly survived this week’s massacre, but Telemachus Orfanos was murdered by the gunman. The video footage of his mother begging for gun control has been widely circulating the internet. The pain is visceral, the message clear: prayers are not enough.
The other victims of the shooting were Daniel Manrique (a Marine Corps veteran), Justin Meek (a security guard at Borderline), Cody Gifford-Coffman (a 22-year-old with plans to join the army), Noel Sparks (a 21-year-old college student), Kristina Morisette (a cashier at Borderline), Sean Adler (a father of two and bouncer at Borderline), Jacob Dunham (a 21-year-old off roader), Blake Dingman (a 21-year-old rising mechanic), and Mark Meza (a 20-year-old busboy at Borderline). I write their names because that is all there is left to do. I offer their family condolences which I know ultimately do nothing to alleviate the grief.
According to USA Today, the shooter posted to social media during the time of the mass murder saying, “It's too bad I won't get to see all the illogical and pathetic reasons people will put in my mouth as to why I did it. Fact is I had no reason to do it, and I just thought f*** it, life is boring so why not?” His social media has been taken down until it can be subpoenaed and further examined. The shooter took his life before he could be taken into custody.
Authorities are still searching for the motive and the meaning behind the violent mass murder. No one wants to believe that neither exist. The shooter had the resources and agency necessary to kill, and he killed.
The number of mass shootings in the United States has risen above 300. From college students, to police officers, to moviegoers, to those visiting their place of worship, to people trying to get through a day of work to fund their dreams or the futures of their families, gun violence has become an epidemic that is indiscriminate in the choosing of its victims. However, the reform of gun laws and passage of gun control legislation is unlikely while the Republicans hold a majority in the Senate and while President Trump exerts veto power in the Oval Office.
The Thousand Oaks shooting took place ten days after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting on October 27, 2018.