Tragedy strikes again with another shooting

Published 10:34 am Friday, July 24, 2015

Though the details are few, we know this much: Our country has suffered another mass shooting at the hands of a deranged individual.

This time it happened in a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, just a couple hours from here. The suspect, a 59-year-old who police described as a drifter, fatally shot himself after police officers arrived quickly to the scene.

Police have said he was intent on escaping the theater after the Thursday night shooting.

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Mayci Breaux, 21, died at the scene, and Jillian Johnson, 33, died later at a hospital, according to police. From all accounts, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As far as motive, police have no clue.

“Why did he come here? Why did he do that? We don’t know that,” Col. Michael Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police said.

Are we now at a point in this country where going to the movie theater is a risk? Should we now be afraid of any public space where people have gathered? Already, we have learned that churches are not safe from shooters. Schools are not safe. Movie theaters are not safe. Where will it end?

We live in a country of guns because our Constitution has enshrined the right to bear arms. That won’t change — and it shouldn’t. But that doesn’t mean some common sense gun regulations can’t save lives.

Would those measures have mattered Thursday night in Lafayette? At this point, no one knows. The shooter may have been a law-abiding citizen who purchased the gun legally.

Whatever the investigation reveals shouldn’t deter us from taking a harder look at gun regulations. Would universal background checks help keep guns out of the hands of criminals? Probably, but too many gun rights advocates fear that background checks would lead to some sort of gun owner registry that will be used to confiscate guns.

But our country already requires background checks for sales by licensed dealers — and has since 1994. There have been no registries or confiscations since then. So why not require a background check for all gun sales? If a law requiring universal background checks could save even one life, it’s worth pursuing.