Old wounds

bethel school

Bethel High School/GDM Inc. photo

By Jill Burke for

Far from the metropolitan areas that today dominate the American consciousness,  remote in relation to the contiguous United States, the community of Bethel, AK population 6,300 – is one of the bookends on a mass-shooting generation of school students that rose in protest across the nation on Saturday.

It was in Bethel in 1997 that Evan Ramsey took a Mossberg Model 500, 12-gauge, pump shotgun into school to kill. Before he could be subdued, he’d fired shots that killed the school’s principal and a fellow student.

Twenty-one years later, under blue skies in a land where winter still rules this time of year, about fifteen activists – a mix of students and educators – formed a small, March for Our Lives event on Saturday. The day’s temperature barely warmed to freezing, but the short days of the near-Arctic winter were fast lengthening as they strolled from the Bethel cultural center (Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center) to a building owned by the Bethel Native Corporation and back.

The small group carried signs echoing the views heard nationally:  “Protect our children, ban assault rifle;, “Speak out loud, let it out;” “I don’t remember sharp shooter or human shield in my teacher contract, #booksnotbullets;” and “No more massacres, America’s children have a right to safe education.”

Bethel is far from Parkland, Fla., the site of the shooting that sparked the protest. The two  communities are near the extreme northwest and southeast corners of the North American continent. Parkland is on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean not far from the tropics; Bethel is near the coast of the windswept Bering at the northern edge of the Pacific Ocean.

Separated by vast geographical distances, they nonetheless share a bond in the experience of a fatal school shooting and a desire that something be done. This is some of what they had to say about the shooting that rocked their community.

Survivors speak

Maddie Reichard, 25, the event organizer, was a preschool student when the 1997 shooting happened.

“I kept thinking it was a movie. And that it was a joke. But it wasn’t,” she said.

Reichard works now as a teacher in the  Ayaprun Elitnaurvik Yukpik-language immersion school in Bethel and serves as manager of the Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race, the community’s best-known sporting event.

She said the reason for the march was simple: “We wanted our voices to be heard.”

Bethel is in a somewhat unusual position in the gun debate. Many residents obtain a significant share of their sustenance from the land and the sea. Firearms are everyday tools. People use them to hunt for food, or for protection from wildlife when gathering berries.

Many of the people on the snowmachines traveling the still frozen Kuskokwim River carry firearms for wilderness survival. Almost every boat traveling the river in the ice-free months to come will likely contain a firearm for the same reason.

Firearms have a valued role in the community’s daily life and culture. Yet organizers of the march do not see gun control as a threat to their hunting tradition. How widely that view is shared across rural Alaska is hard to say. The Ruger Mini-14, a semi-automatic rifle, is one of the most popular firearms in the state’s villages.

Few in rural Alaska view that firearm as an “assault rifle,” but writing a law that leaves the Mini-14 legal while outlawing more ominous-appearing weapons is not easy. Still Reichard and others would like to see lawmakers try.

“I have a gun,” Reichard said by telephone the day before the march. “We have to go out and catch food so we can eat throughout the winter, but that’s a different kind of weapon than an assault rifle. I’m not going out and shooting a moose with an assault rifle. And I am also not defending my home with an AK-47. That’s not an effective way to defend your home.”

“We’re asking for stronger restrictions on military grade weapons that should actually only be in the hands of trained professionals, and (we’re asking for) background checks.”

Bethel Regional High School senior Kelly O’Brien, 17 helped organize a 17-minute school walkout on March 14 in concert with students across the nation and planned to be in the Saturday march as well.

More oversight

O’Brien wants tighter regulations and more rigorous background checks, measures she feels will help keep children and young adults safer.

“All kids deserve to go to school in safety and not be scared that they are going to die at school,” she said.

While walkouts and rallies create awareness and drive a social agenda, O’brien is also keenly focused on getting her peers to do something even more powerful.

“They can walk out and march and protest all they want but nothing will happen if they don’t go out and vote for themselves,” she said.

Stephen O’Brien, 68, (no relation to student Kelly O’Brien) was an English teacher and athletic coach at Bethel Regional High School on the day 15-year-old Ramsey, a student of O’Brien’s with a troubled past and the target of bullies, came into school armed and angry.

Ramsey fatally shot Josh Palacios, a 15-year-old  basketball player, and principal Ron Edwards, a good friend of O’Brien’s. A Navy veteran and a volunteer firefighter, O’Brien provided first aid to the injured before medics arrived. His son, a seventh grader at the school at the time, escaped with other students by jumping out a second story window.

In the years since ’97, every school shooting, every mass shooting, has brought back memories for O’Brien.

“How do you respond when your friends and colleagues are shot and killed? That’s not just something that goes away. It’s always there,” O’Brien said.

“I was in the Navy.  I never heard a shot fired in anger until I was teaching at Bethel high school. At one point in my life I was prepared for that but I just never expected to experience that in a high school setting.”

O’brien eventually moved away from Bethel and retired from teaching. He now lives in Palmer, a community about 45 minutes north of Anchorage.

Like many individuals in Alaska, O’brien supports the use of firearms for hunting. But he feels some weapons offer far more firepower than necessary.

“I really don’t understand people who feel that they have to have a semi-automatic weapon. It’s not really an effective hunting weapon. It’s really a gun that’s designed to kill. It’s what we would call a ‘street sweeper.’ You could clear a street with that gun. I think that only people who are trained in its use should even have one.”

Twenty-one years ago after the Ramsey shooting,  the Bethel school district brought counselors in to help students and teachers cope with the trauma. O’brien went to two sessions. More than two decades later, he’s still thinking about the shooting and the what ifs:

What might have happened if he’d been standing in the hallway instead of a classroom? What would he have done had he encountered the shooter? Could lives have been saved? Could he have been killed?

It’s the loop of an internal voice he’s never been able to quiet:  ”What if…?”

Watching a generation of young people who have grown up with school shootings and gun violence throughout their lifetimes, he said, brings both heartache and pride.

“I think it’s a travesty that students have to walk out of schools in order to protest their fear about getting shot,” he said. “As adults we are supposed to provide a safe learning environment for students. It breaks my heart to think about how we have failed them. They have a right to grow up and go to school and get married and have babies and raise families.

And yet, he added, “As a teacher it makes me proud to see them exercising their constitutional right to speak out and to express themselves.”

43 replies »

  1. Let’s take the current Austin Texas bombings, not a shot fired by the killer.

    I do believe he shopped the Home Depot for his choice of weapon. Do we now get a background check and no sharp tipped nails for the Nonpro browsing the isles of their local hardware store.

    Points: When there’s a will they will find a way. It’s not the tool/weapon they use it’s their mental state.
    In the end don’t leave yourselves defenseless.

  2. When Congress allows guns in the gallery, only then might I listen to their warblings about gun control. When the NRA gets rid of that fuckwit LaPierre I might join again (joined in 1960, age 11) but only after The American Rifleman never ever again uses the word ‘tactical’ in an article. I’m sick of all this bullshit.

  3. Hawkeye I agree . Thank you for doing such a good job of spelling out a clear picture. I also agree getting to bottom of and resolveing mental problems is imperative part of solution. On many fronts. Well stated and written. I hope people in power read it with an open mind .

  4. “We’re asking for stronger restrictions on military grade weapons that should actually only be in the hands of trained professionals, and (we’re asking for) background checks.”

    The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    Without “military grade rifles” in the hands of Americans, we can never have a “well regulated militia”…so, comments like these are blatant attempts at destroying the second amendment.

    Having grown up in Pennsylvania about an hour away from Gettysburg, I can tell you folks feel strongly about their right to maintain firearms to protect themselves.

    History shows us time and time again that “disarming” a democratic society is the first step towards Fascism.

    During the battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War, farmers in PA watched “Gatling Guns” roll into their corn fields and kill nearly 60,000 people in days.

    Faced with the global enemies that the U.S. currently has, It would be idiotic to believe that a reduction in firearms (no matter what type) would make the citizens safer.

    True change will come from treating the mental illnesses like PTSD that are rampant in our nation.

    • “Without “military grade rifles” in the hands of Americans, we can never have a “well regulated militia”…so, comments like these are blatant attempts at destroying the second amendment.”

      Steve, your same argument could be made for 50 caliber machine guns or anti-tank weapons. Yet I don’t really think you would support folks running their commutes with recoilless rifles on their front fenders. And we have already gotten rid of full auto weapons (military or not).
      Would certainly take care of our overpopulation problem, though.

      • Bill,
        You are wrong.
        With the right license and paperwork, folks in America with a clean back ground could own both a 50 caliber & an automatic weapon.
        Even Schaeffer Cox’s mother stated if he would have obtained the proper license, he would never have been charged for the crimes he was.
        With that said, even soldiers in battle rarely select “fully auto” on their weapons unless faced with an ambush situation.
        Semi auto is much more accurate of a setting and does not waste ammo, something which is always in a limited supply during conflict.
        As for “recoiless rifles on their front fenders”…
        That happens everyday in the Middle East in countries like Yemen and Syria.
        I hope our country never sees a civil war again and again, treatment of diagnosed mental illnesses is our best path to safety.
        Think over 1 million veterans with PTSD!

      • Bill,
        I understand you need a federal license complete with fingerprints to own those “machine guns”….not that I am an advocate or saying anyone should own them…BUT, knowing what can happen to a democracy (like civil war or terrorism) I am glad there are some law abiding citizens that choose to own them in a legal fashion present today. Many are ex milatary and are quite comfortable with their operation and safety.
        As for Mr. Cox, I personally feel he had mental illness that was untreated. (Who else would think and say the things he did) He also committed some crimes, but it does not seem fair he got nearly 30 years in prison without physically injuring another person. His mother said a bulk of his sentencing came from federal charges resulting from owning machine guns without a license. He was not a felon at that time and potentially could have obtained the legal license from the feds.
        As for the whole story…it got muddy with gov informants.

      • Well Steve, what would you think of requiring of semi-automatics like AR-15s needing such paperwork like for machine guns??? Would that be an infringement?
        Frankly such a requirement would solve a lot of problems with these mass shootings IMO without the outlawing of them. Takes care of the background checks, etc. If it takes 9-12 months to get the paperwork done for machine guns (relatively few) just imagine how long the paperwork would back up for AR-15s and then throw in all other semi-automatics and you would be talking a long time before you can take your assault rifle to the range. Such a requirement would not cause me a second’s thought but I suspect it would create a bunch of criminals unnecessarily and its for this reason I would oppose such, at this time.
        On the other hand, if these one issue 2nd amendment folks (and NRA) oppose reasonable solutions then I could very well get on board with something like that application requirement for all military rifles. Naturally I want to be on the committee that decides the reasonable solutions. Heheh!
        By the way, I am a former NRA member that gave up on them twenty-some years ago when they wouldn’t support trigger guards on handguns in the home. I had a young son, at the time, and was wary of his buddies that may drop by after school-I put trigger locks on mine, then.
        Schaeffer Cox was a nutjob who threatened to kill federal employees and his 241 plan was just plain insane IMO. His few cult-like followers were not what I’d consider critical thinkers, either.

      • Bill,
        I am not against paperwork, registrations or background checks…
        I was taught it was always better to “do the paperwork” when purchasing a firearm.
        Like you stated though, it is a balance and too many “restrictions” only fuels the black market which is already flooded with forgein made weapons (a whole different story).
        As for singling out specific makes and models, actions,etc…this opens a huge can of worms for the lobbying groups of manufactures and the NRA.

        Again, just like with Cox, the treating of mental illness would help many of these situations before help is too late.
        The problem is many of the vets diagnosed with PTSD are also the gun owners and no politician in their right mind wants to begin to disarm U.S. veterans.
        A Classic “Conundrum”!

      • Just my opinion but we can’t treat other health issues properly so I’ll not hold my breath till we can adequately treat mental health problems.
        In the meantime, we are left to get a handle on these mass shooters. And we have plenty of other gun issues, many of them suicides, but the pressing issue is nutjobs getting these AR-15 type guns to get into guiness book of records with their body count.
        Not that many years ago kids in Juneau took their shotguns to school with them, keeping them in their locker, until they could hunt on their way home. What a distance we have come! Our society has run amok, it seems. As the late Hunter S Thompson said “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
        The going has gotten plenty weird.

      • Bill,
        Some good points there.
        Hunter was a leader and brilliant writer.
        As for the mass shootings, they are heart breaking and emotional….but still a small fraction of overall homicides by firearm.
        Only 15 percent of guns involved in crimes were obtained legally in U.S.
        Therefore the illegal gun trade is the elephant in the room on “gun rights” discussions.
        Until the ATF gets a handle on this issue, all restrictions on legal gun sales will only help a small percentage.
        I was taught by my grandfather (an NRA shooting range instructor) that: “If guns are outlawed, then only outlaws will have guns”

  5. Bill first I meant right circumstances for high capacity magazine. Tight was typo but close . Third I think discussion should be to find non invasive methods to deal with mass shootings not constitution discussions as I think that’s just a distraction. Highly knowledgeable individuals are needed for constitutional issues. To many people have heavy opinions. I prefer solutions that don’t infringe on people’s rights . Ok now to Show 2 nd amendment protects high capacity magazine. first you must carefully read constitution. It directly says all rights not discussed are reserved by states and citizens. Thus the right for high capacity magazine is protected twice . It’s pretty clear . As best I can understand English language and military jargon arms includes bullets or projectiles. The constitution said shall not be infringed thus high capacity is allowed . I say that’s also common sense as a crazy can cause damage with any form of weapon. That’s should answer your question as to coverage by 2 nd . Now as to usefulness of high capacity in right circumstances. Example – laying down cover fire against shooter for concert goers. Protecting oneself in the dark . Or with a poorly sighted in rifle . From people or even animals. My dads experience was with a brown bear in the dark . Coyotes has been harassing bird pen but pitch black of night it turned out to be brown bear . He had taken a small caliber mini 14 and when bear stood up 10 ft away to face him he put many bullets into its front rib cage . Neautralizing the threat regardless of a small caliber. Granted was relatively low capacity magazine 20 bullets ? Can’t remember. He has been charged by 4 large bears at once . No joke . Now multiple human intruders at night , high capacity could be needed . Also consider if we had to defend our country from another country or worse yet our governments. I think that would bring high capacity into right situation. When I suggest 2 Nd amendment is broad coverage keep in mind I have never purchased any firearm remotely ( high capacity) that doesn’t mean we should throw out the intellectual efforts of our far seeing forefathers. A truly dangerous path to take . Now as to your bump stock question . I hate them . Stupid . Inaccurate. Wish they were non existent. That said I sacrifice my personal feelings about them and say let state decide not feds – that’s constitutional,but my opinion is 2nd allows them . Huge nuisance that they are . Perhaps they could be gotten rid of as they more an entertainment item than a functional arm acesorie. Never used one but that’s my understanding from users . Now as to swat coming and possibly injuring a citizen defender . That’s obviously a concern. But a sacrifice a defender might make to save a large crowd . It would need adressed in swat training. I personally would trust a swat team more than a crazy gunman or multiples . Obviously not my forte to speak and I think subject should be pushed how to solve the issues without infringing on bill of rights . Mess with constitution and can of worms is opened. Simpler to solve issues with forward thinking American resourceful ingenuity! Who has great ideas ? Let’s get em to our political representatives and the media !

    • I think you are dreaming when you suggest magazines are covered by 2nd amendment. As I stated before, the BATF has already ruled that they have no jurisdiction on bumpstocks, that are just another accessory similar to high-cap magazines IMO.
      Whatever the case, our Congress is going to be held accountable to do something and I suspect we will see increased background checks (as approximately 97% of Americans support). We are already on our way to banning bumpstocks and I also believe we have a large majority of Americans on board. Now, the real issues are high capacity magazines and so-called assault rifles. Both are needing to be banned by the majority of Americans (though not as much). Frankly, I’ve not seen a poll since that last high school shooting but I’ll wager there are a lot more coming for those guns, now.
      I also would hope to not infringe on 2nd amendment, only because I don’t want to create a bunch of criminals, unnecessarily. A ban on assault guns would not in the least cause me any grief but I also like to see just the facts used (such as given by Bradley Miller). I’m hoping that banning magazines will take some pressure off the gun banning public but even that may not be possible (in the wake of these mass shootings).
      Perhaps NRA tries suing Sessions on the banning of bumpstocks and they could do something similar with high cap magazines but IMO the Courts may get their say. Its politics, too but the polls have been reluctant to get involved ever since our previous assault gun ban was overturned. The are getting their feet held to a pretty hot fire IMO.

  6. Bill . A reply to your statements. You make an assumption off subject when you assume I think something. No I don’t nesasarily think Alaskans have more guns . I’m not familiar with Nevada so I gave Alaska as example .to Hard to judge a situation with variables I know to little about. Such as Nevada . I do think anchorage has a high proportion military, gun nuts , hunting guides my opinion is we have a lot of professions and lifestyle that requires high compentcy with firearms thus a good chance of success to stymie a shooter . That said the best shot I ever saw with high caliber scoped rifle was a young man from Michigan. ( during my many years as a guide ) I will read and reply to your other statements in a bit .

    • I only used Nevada as that was where that hotel shooting took place. Have a first cousin who lives in Lake Havasu who never goes anywhere without his handgun (mostly in his car as he is a car dealer). Just spoke with him in Palm Springs a week ago and he has permits to carry concealed in a half dozen states. For his reasons he feels the need for self-protection. Something I’ve never had a call for and I’ve never considered carrying a loaded handgun in my glovebox.
      By the way, that was no assumption, just said it sounds like (to me). And not more guns either, more “good people with guns.” Remember all we both were talking about was the Las Vegas shooting, compared to something similar in Alaska.
      I’ve never weighed in on that good guy with a gun in a random shooter situation-just not something I’m familiar with.

  7. Bill let’s supose this the mass hotel shooting occurred in Alaska . God forbid. A percentage of concert goers would have been armed and had scoped rifles in their trucks or mini 14 or even larger semi auto . A guide , hunter citizen , or military individual may have accomplished taking shooter out . At a minimum could have provided cover reducing casualties . Now also throw in I have a good old freind with terminal cancer who would not hesitate to storm the building . He carries 1-3 guns at all times and both him and wife keep guns in car . Old time Oregonians . Pretty sure someone would have assisted. ? That said bottom line is it’s impossible to make safe at all times but I say hotels or places people congregate should have safety measures in place to protect against crazy people. To best possible. Or it’s irresponsible of event organizations. Same as a fire escape. Fires happen . The main problem is criminal people ignore laws . Law followers tend to try and follow laws witch automatically puts them at disadvantage. Thus second amendment is imperative to leave alone and find alternative solutions. A high capacity magazine is useful under tight circumstances. It should fall under second amendment protection. Crazy’s will take advantage if you take away law abiding citizens rights . It’s not a debatable issue as it’s factual and reasearchable . Worldwide . I challenge all the brilliant people out there to push for non invasive solutions. What are they ?

    • You sound as if you think Alaska somehow has more good people with guns at all times than say Nevada. I don’t buy it!
      The issues with protection has been much greater in lower 48 (until our recent crime rate increases) and many States (including Nevada) have large concealed carry folks. There is not a chance in a carload that some militia-type was going to beat law enforcement into that Las Vegas hotel IMO. Doesn’t really matter, because it was all over by then, anyway.
      I’ll grant you that the only one who would be holding a gun, when law enforcement shows up, is someone who doesn’t particularly care if he gets shot. And anyone going to their pick-up to retrieve their scoped rifle wouldn’t last two seconds after SWAT shows up.
      What makes you think high capacity magazines falls under 2nd amendment? What are these tight circumstances you speak of?? Do you feel that, say, bumpstocks are also necessary in tight circumstances?
      Frankly, if bumpstocks don’t fall under 2nd amendment, there is no real difference IMO. BATF has already spoken about bumpstocks as accessories not covered by them. Thus it becomes a legislative problem and AG Sessions has taken it upon himself to end-run around Congress, so far.
      We’ll see how it shakes out.

  8. Hi Bill . I believe founders meant to secure all public events by allowing and encouraging every person to be armed . This is an auto secure method especially against mass shootings. Perhaps not so much against occasional nut who cracks . But it massively slows any mass shootings. What are other options?

    • You could be right, Ramey.
      However the encouragement of armed civilians has certainly not deterred these mass shootings. What would armed folks have done to counter that Las Vegas shooter?
      And frankly I can’t imagine being one holding a gun when law enforcement shows up.

      • armed civilians have stopped mass shootings, Bill, but not a lot:
        the Vegas incident as an outlier, and one shouldn’t draw and conclusions from it. and mass shootings themselves are pretty rare if you take out the drug- and gang-related shootings in which more than one person gets killed.
        it’s a difficult problem, and there’s no telling what might happen if we could find a way to take guns out of the hands of these people who want to commit mass murder. there area lot of other ways to do it.

      • It’s only an outlier because you infer it, Craig. It’s frankly so new that we really can’t say much about it, even the motive remains unknown. Its use of “bumpstocks” is also new and look what is taking place over them.
        The fact that mass shootings tend to be rare really has nothing to do with why we are having these debates, right now. A lot of people are just plain pissed off over what they feel is unacceptable occurences of them (mass shootings).
        My position on the “good guy with a gun” is that it doesn’t seem to have resulted in less of these shootings (not whether/not a good guy has stopped one). And these good guy stopping them is what I might refer to as an outlier, too.
        I agree we have a difficult problem!

  9. Here’s my opinion on safe public schools. Option #1 Ban them all, give the money in voucher form to families to choose a private school or homeschool. Simple saves money and repairs America’s social fabric Option # #2 install a sprinkler system that sprays sticky gummy foam onto people who have weapons . Certain amounts of metal could trigger it or it could be controlled by a teachers number code ? Possibly a heavily paid guard would have control of a sticky sprinkler/ video system. In each class this system Paired with a locked case containing a fast firing fully composite tranc gun with antidote and vest . a second deaper case containing a semi auto firearm large capacity magazine. Each case would have rotating changing codes given to teachers . Teachers would be required to train but none required to use or defend. Option #3 drones armed with trancs combined with firearms in locked cases . I hate drone concept/ ai . I’m sure there are many other options . This is a start though . Obviously anything infringing second amendment should be 100% off limits particularly during a volatile time in history we now live in . If anything we need to move back to founders original position- shall not be infringed. Like to hear some more brilliant ideas in national debate that could fully resolve our nations many issues.

  10. Bradley miller . Interesting thing . Craig medred wrote an incomplete article prompting you to educate us . ( thank you ) rarely can one person have all the facts or even understand them . So we are more educated due to Craig and you . Thus Craig doesn’t have to be a super genius and his readers can help fill out the picture. Thanks Bradley ! Keep more info coming!

  11. Craig,

    Not to pile on as the others have pointed out that people who demonstrably don’t know the technical details of what they are talking about are not qualified to recommend changes to laws, much less laws impacting fundamental rights.

    Anyway, just from an editing standpoint, “12 gauge” has no decimal. It isn’t a distance unit of measurement. Calibers like .45 (.45 inches) and 9 mm (nine millimeters, not “.9,” which we also often see) measure the width of the bore/bullet.

    A shotgun’s “gauge” is a measure of weight, the fraction of a pound a round lead ball that will fit the bore weighs. In the case of a 12 gauge, that’s a 1/12 lb lead ball. Of course, there’s the .410 bore shotgun, which is the mid-19thC fly in the ointment.

  12. Craig, I was surprised to hear that the mini-14 was that popular in rural Alaska. I happen to own a stainless one that was used years ago to shoot seals (mostly just scared them a bit) but got too expensive for ammo (replaced it with stainless Ruger 10-22).
    Anyway, I got my mini-14 that came with a 30 round magazine that I’ve never had any use for. And when I was thinking on taking that rifle through Canada (about 15 years ago) I was told to not even try it, so it appears the Canadians consider it something they don’t want on the order of their banning the transport of handguns through their country.
    I suspect any attempt at “assault weapons” banning will almost guarantee the mini-14 be included. Frankly I can’t see the argument that would ban the AR-15, yet allow the mini-14. I personally am vigorously opposed to the large capacity magazines (like my own) to reduce the firepower available to those semi-automatics that accept them. I’m a hunter and have never obtained a gun for self-defense (unlike so many) so my opinion is based in this situation. A mini-14 could be a great weapon if one had to defend his/her castle but even this situation would not require those large capacity magazines.
    Just my opinion.

    • Bill,

      Gary Kleck recently examined mass shootings by incident, and higher capacity magazines did not appear to play a significant part in most mass shootings. The number of rounds fired over the length of the engagement made most possible with lower capacity mags, and most involved more than one firearm. Note Parkland only involved 10 round mags.

      The key factor in minimizing casualties is how quickly armed opposition can engage and stop the shooter’s ability to kill at will. Otherwise, they kill until they decide to stop.

      The key factor in preventing future events, per law enforcement and psychological professionals, is to break the “Columbine effect” and quit glorifying these killers and spurring those who might want to try for the next “high score.”

      In essence, minimize coverage to the bare facts and otherwise DontNameThem. (you can google it) Treat them like we finally decided to treat suicide victims in media, and for the same exact reason.

      • Thanks for that but I know the Las Vegas shooter did use large cap magazines. And it does not take a rocket scientist to tell me that a shooter can more easily pack ammo with those large cap magazines than if say they were limited to 10-rounds. What is your 2nd amendment argument for the continued use of large cap. magazines? I view it similarly to “bumpstocks”, namely an accessorie that increases the firepower of a legal weapon, yet does not infringe on the right to own and carry the weapon.
        I’m having a problem with making a lot of gun owners criminals by outlawing so-called “assault guns” but frankly I see no reason for not limiting those same gun’s firepower. It could even come in the form of grandfathering them and stop future selling of those magazines.
        That said, the limiting of firepower of long guns wouldn’t make a lot of sense without the same limit placed on automatic handguns IMO. Again, the grandfathering of available guns could reduce the making criminals out of now law-abiding citizens and some sort of future allowable capacities for handguns.
        These are just the opinions of a gun owner that has never purchased a gun for self-protection, so throw me a bone here and show me my thinking error, here.

      • Bill,

        Yes, higher cap mags can hold more ammo. The point was, that capability hasn’t been relevant in practice in almost any mass shootings however defined. Liberty is the default, restrictions on liberty, even something so seemingly innocuous as on larger mags, requires actual evidence, not just common sense assumptions. Given that larger mags have been around since the turn of the last century, have a host of legitimate uses including many of the modern shooting sports, recreation and self-defense, and are not used in crime, street or mass shootings, to any large degree, and even when present in mass shooting scenarios have not been clearly necessary, there’s no good reason to ban them other than looks and distaste. And even trying to ban, given there are hundreds of millions worth billions of dollars extant in tens of millions of law-abiding people’s hands, is hard to justify based on cost and logistics.

        To get into the weeds, the casualty count in Las Vegas had more to do with the planning than the guns. He was shooting down, which essentially eliminated any cover, into a packed crowd, which minimized the need for precise aiming, that crowd having limited exits, which prevented them from dispersing, at night from several hundred yards away, which made it difficult to locate the direction of fire to flee away from, and hindered the ability to find the exits to flee to.

        Given any other scenario he would not have been able to utilize the sustained fire capability of the bump stocks (which really didn’t seem to be required given the round count and time involved) and even then he had 20 rifles, even with 10 round mags that’s 220 rounds on tap without a reload. He fired 1,100 rounds in 10 minutes, that’s only a 2 second per shot rate of fire (yes, I know it wasn’t evenly spaced). Even without a bump stock, shooting twice as fast as that is not difficult if precise aiming is not required. Throwing in 5 mag changes and switching guns would likely not have seriously hampered him as he only stopped when law enforcement arrived and AFAIK the targeted crowd was still pretty thick.

        Here is a look at Texas church shooting that, according to the above article, was fairly exposed to large capacity magazines. At least 15 30-round mags. amounts to close to 500 rounds that was made possible due to those high-cap magazines. While the shooter could possibly have been able to utilize smaller cap magazines successfully, I suspect he would have needed a wheelbarrow to carry them. Frankly, he most likely was burdened enough even with those 30-rounders. And I believe he used up his ammo and dropped the gun when confronted.
        Your position that Las Vegas shooter may have been something of an “outlier” as suggested by Craig Medred, this church shooter is nothing of the sort. Here is a case where smaller cap magazines would have lowered the body count (IMO) for nothing more than “common sense reasons.”
        I’m still on board with the limiting of the firepower of these “assault weapons.” I just plain don’t buy your “legitimate” uses for these magazines-granted they would be nice to have in very limited situations but, while the gun is a constitutionally protected right, the high-cap magazine is not IMO. You will have trouble explaining your position on high-capacity magazines to those victims in Texas and you’ve not convinced me, either. I will say that some sort of grandfathering or even requiring the registering of them (high-cap magazines), on the order of the way machine guns, silencers, etc. are controlled could go towards saving those “legitimate” uses. Again, this is not an infringement as the 2nd amendment refers IMO.

      • Bill: like you, i see no need for high-capacity magazines. that said, i also don’t see any evidence that banning them would make a difference. and i’m sure, as i write this, there are people out here buying high-capacity magazines and stockpiling them without a thought to selling them on the black market if restrictions are imposed

      • Well Craig all the available bumpstocks sold out in short order after news broke on them. Perhaps I can capitalize on my 30-round magazine for a mini-14. Everything I own is for sale, for the right price. Heheh!

  13. There is to much inconsistent information contained in this article that is fails carry any weight to those who are informed about this subject matter.

    Unless of course, the intent is to further an agenda betting on the lack of subject matter knowledge of a larger number of readers.

    First, let me state, I in no way want to take away from the tragedy of this school shooting in Bethel in 1997. It is tragic and horrible. It is nice to see that event organizers chose to remember and honor this.

    First let’s make one thing completely and totally clear. “Assault” is a verb. The term Assault Rifle is a made up term changing the words usage from a verb to an adjective.

    Yet, holding signs which focus on banning “Assault Rifles” while using the shooting from 1997 as a “similar event” is misleading. As stated the shooting in 1997 was perpetrated using a Mossberg 500 pump shotgun. This is entirely different than an assault rifle, it is at an entirely different end of the spectrum. This difference is important to note because it shows the problem is not a weapons type or platform problem it is a people problem.

    The first quoted segment of a survivor mentions the Ruger mini 14, and makes note that few consider it an “assault” rifle. However, the bottom line if you insist on utilizing the term “assault” in this case and to try and further the definition by a more descriptive label like “military grade weapon”, even then, anyone who is knowledgeable and educated can say without doubt and with fact the Mini 14 should be classified as an assault rifle.

    Let’s compare. AR-15 = a gas operated, lightweight, semi automatic firearm. Caliber 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem. Capable of utilizing a 5, 10, 20, 30 round magazine. Changeable and adaptable after market stock parts allowing for accessories such as scopes, and broom handles.
    Ruger Mini-14 = a gas operated, lightweight, semi automatic firearm. Caliber 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem. Capable of utilizing a 5, 10, and even a 30 round magazine. Changeable and adaptable after market stock parts allowing for accessories such as scopes and broom handles, collapsible or folding stocks. This similarities are striking. Neither one is any more powerful nor deadly than the other. They can both fire the same number of rounds and are the SAME CALIBER!!! And both can be changed to look IDENTICAL!!!

    Lets look at another couple of weapons. The common “military grade” weapon carried by our military in WWII was the M-1 Garand. It utilized an 8 round clip. fired semi automatic, caliber .30-06 springfield. Meanwhile the Remington 7400 sporting/hunting rifle, is a semi automatic rifle which utilizes a 5 round magazine (with after market 10 round magazines available), caliber .30-06 springfield. Stunning, don’t you think? especially considering one of the most popular big game hunting cartridges/calibers in the world is none other than the .30-06 springfield. GUESS WHAT? The Remington 7400 has available after market stock options allowing for collapsible or folding stock buttstock and forearm parts to make it look very similar to the “military grade” weapon known as the AR-15. Yet, the .30-06 round is far more powerful and deadly than the AR-15s 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem.

    Then the second survivor quoted in the article says, “I really don’t understand people who feel that they have to have a semi-automatic weapon. It’s not really an effective hunting weapon. It’s really a gun that’s designed to kill.” This is an ignorant statement. A bolt action single shot weapon used for hunting is designed to do what exactly? scare the game into compliance? NEWS FLASH! almost all weapons are designed to kill. I don’t want a weapon, whether it is a single shot handgun, pump shotgun, semi automatic rifle or whatever, that isn’t designed to kill. Whether I am out hunting birds, big game , or varmints or whether I am having to defend my life, my families lives and my home; The weapon I use either way is designed to kill. Don’t try to beat the drum that semi-automatic (such as the AR-15 or the M-1 Garand) is not effective for hunting. Just refer to what I have pointed out. The Mini-14 is a semi automatic and as stated one of the most popular hunting rifles used in the interior villages. The ONLY DIFFERENCE between it and the AR-15 is LOOKS. Same thing goes for the Remington 7400 versus the M-1 Garand.

    Let’s be honest, this article is just another attempt to forward and agenda and perpetuate the lack of knowledge and education of the majority of the readers. When you allow those you interview to continue to believe inaccurate claims and then publish them, you are not helping the situation. You are merely continuing to breed “sheep”.

    Let’s examine a couple more weapons. The AK-47 versus the Ruger Mini-30. Both are gas operated semi-automatics, the AK uses a 30rd magazine, the Mini-30 utilizes a 5, or 20 round magazine. both of them fire the 7.62×39 cartridge. Both are identical in fire power but one is a “ranch rifle/hunting rifle and the other is a soviet designed military weapon.
    Then there is the AR-15/AR-10 platform weapons chambered in .308 Win/7.62×51 NATO. There is also the M-14 (an early Vietnam Era weapon, now popular among hunters and collectors), which…. uh-oh, could it be, they operate the same way and have the same capabilities and shoot the same caliber. Yet the .308/7.62×51 NATO is another of the most popular hunting cartridges/caliber in the world today. Even more so, this happens to be one of the most popular calibers used by law enforcement and military in a “Sniper” Rifle. Which is usually a bolt action rifle with small modifications (any civilian can have done) to help the rifle shoot a little more accurately and is equipped with a scope to help the shooter make a more precise shot. Now what is the difference between a Sniper Rifle and a standard bolt action hunting rifle? Both have scopes. Both are capable of making precision shots.

    Come on Craig Medred. Do some good journalism. Report the facts, educate your readers first, then let them make their determinations. Based on good knowledge.

    In closing. As a firearms enthusiast, and a retired Marine, I believe in our Constitution. Yet, I agree with people regarding the mass shootings or in actuality regarding any senseless murder perpetrated with a firearm. Something needs to be done. I am willing to explore options which do not interfere with ANY of my constitutional rights. However, in order to have a good conversation and in order to find a good solution, Both sides need to be educated with the plain hard facts (not the facts as they wish them to be).

    • I have heard, nearly verbatim, you arguments time and again. I’ll give you a little tip: many of us gun owners don’t listen. Why is that? Because we know that demographics are going to take care of the matter, eventually. These techno ‘explanations’ are tiresome.

    • Very well Stated Bradley….. I could contribute to your post but you did a great job…. And Ramey I wished you would have won the Iditarod…. Great job…..

  14. “We’re asking for stronger restrictions on military grade weapons that should actually only be in the hands of trained professionals, and (we’re asking for) background checks.”

    Comments like this do nothing to support their argument and only go to show the ignorance of the general population.

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