If You Want Change, Take Action

Businesses in the Oregon District could take a hit after the shooting. (YouTube | NBC4 WCMH-TV Columbus)

On the morning of August 4, nine people were killed and 27 were injured in the wake of a mass shooting in Dayton’s Oregon District.

This is the latest mass shooting in the U.S. and is the 251st to occur within the first 216 days of the calendar year.

And as shocking and bewildering as this is, these shootings don’t have to happen. Every time it does, social media is riddled with the dismay of people, saying that this shouldn’t have happened and that “enough is enough” and “we need to change this,” and I wholeheartedly agree.

Some of you may be asking, however, what can we do in both the long and short term to end these horrible crimes? Here are just a few of the things we can do to support victims of mass shootings and ensure that they happen less frequently.

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A group of protestors outside of Dayton’s city hall. (Photo Credit: Maxwell Patton)

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Nine people lost their lives on that night, and nine families are grieving heavily as they face the loss of a loved one. They also have to face monetary stress in terms of funeral costs and other expenses.

Those that were injured in the chaos also have medical bills that may need to be paid for, as well as coverage for work time they may miss recovering from their injuries.

The most direct way to help is to donate to the Dayton Foundation’s Oregon District Tragedy Fund, which directly gives 100% of your donation to the families of victims.

Another option is giving blood at the Community Blood Center, located at 329 S. Main St. The blood supply always needs replenished following disasters such as this.

In addition, don’t let this shooting be a black mark on the Oregon District and Ned Peppers as a whole.

When you feel safe enough, give those businesses a like on Facebook, and shop there. It would be a major shame if those businesses closed down due to the actions of one homicidal prick. The Oregon District is a nice place in our city that shouldn’t be abandoned because of this.

(YouTube | NBC4 WCMH-TV Columbus)

Forget About the Shooter, Never Forget the Victims

We have a bad habit of focusing on the story of the one holding the gun rather than the ones they shot down. As a member of the media, I understand the reasoning behind it, as many people want to know what compelled someone to do such a reprehensible act, and the minds of killers are fascinating to humans in general and equal more readership. It still doesn’t sit well with me.

For example, I still remember James Holmes (the guy who shot up a Colorado theater in 2012). I remember his stupid hair, his name, everything; but for the life of me I can’t remember the names of any victims from that shooting.

And those people who didn’t have a choice in their fate deserve better. Megan Betts, Monica Brickhouse, Nicholas Cumer, Derrick Fudge, Thomas McNichols, Lois Oglesby, Saeed Saleh, Logan Turner and Beatrice Warren-Curtis deserve better. These are the names that should be associated with this shooting, not some coward that killed innocent people for no reason. 

While I don’t know if it will have a profound effect, not mentioning the shooter until a long time after the fact may dissuade others from committing the same act, as I think the notoriety killers get is a factor in why mass shootings have become as prevalent as they have.

The officers that stopped the shooting in roughly 30 seconds and prevented catastrophe and bystanders on the scene that stepped up to help, such as pro wrestler Jeremy Ganger (more on his story later this week), deserve to be put in the spotlight more than the disgusting man that caused the chaos.

These are the individuals that we should be thinking about and memorializing in the wake of this tragedy. 

Check on the People You Care About

A performance of “Stand by Me” at the vigil held for those killed in the shooting. (YouTube | NBC4 WCMH-TV Columbus)

This act of cowardice affected much more than just those that went to Ned Peppers that night. Many in the community may not feel safe in their own homes, their own neighborhood for the foreseeable future.

Some people will need comfort, company and reassurance before venturing out on the town again. Some people will just need someone to talk to in an effort to clear their minds. Be a friend to these people, and offer them help. At the very least, direct them to resources in Dayton or Sinclair’s campus that they can get help from.

Even the gesture of sending a group text to your friends/families and just reminding them that you care about them and are grateful for their presence is a nice action that can make someone’s day.

This is a very important time to be a pillar of support to those you care about. Simply checking in on them and asking if they’re ok, or if they need anything is a small gesture that could go a long way. Don’t take them for granted.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks at the vigil. (YouTube | NBC4 WCMH-TV Columbus)

Don’t Stop Talking About It

The news media cycles through big events such as mass shootings extremely quickly. In a week, CNN, CBS, Fox News, NPR and all the other national outlets will stop talking about the shootings in Dayton and El Paso. The only time it’ll be brought up again, is in arguments about gun control between talking heads, and once a more current, more deadly shooting occurs, this will never be talked about again. 

But we shouldn’t let it stop there. This will affect those who lost a loved one for the rest of their lives. People won’t feel safe in their own city for years to come, if ever.

We can’t forget that this senseless, violent act happened. We should make sure our local and national politicians don’t forget about it and the only way to push for change is to stop talking about what should’ve happened, and use this tragedy to change the future.

Former Ohio governor John Kasich offered his thoughts on Sunday’s “State of the Union” program on CNN, stating that “…So you want to get gun control legislation, begin to march for it and you will get it.”

He places the blame on members of both the Republican and Democratic party, as they “run for the fences” whenever discussions on the topic start.

So if we really want to stop this from happening again, we need to continue talking about shootings, and call out those that aren’t taking it seriously, and not let Dayton be just another city that was shot up.

Elect Officials in 2020 That Will Do Something About Mass Shootings

This is the furthest out, but it is probably the most important action you can take to ensure these senseless killings stop.

For the love of God, elect officials that will actually do the rudimentary amount of necessary research to say the correct name of the cities affected by tragedy in a statement. We are not Toledo, or Michigan.

Also, don’t elect officials that state that same-sex marriage, transgender rights, “drag queen advocates,” immigrants, Barrack Obama and violent video games (an argument debunked back in the mid-2000s) are to blame for the increase in gun violence.

Yes, this is a real Facebook post from an Ohio state representative, Candice Keller.

State Rep. Candice Keller, a Middletown Republican, speaks on the Ohio House floor. She has said she won’t resign after facing backlash to her post. (Tribune News Service)

Instead, elect officials that have gone on record saying that they will vote for and draft legislation that institutes common-sense measures such as background checks and red flag laws.

Those very bills are sitting in limbo, as they’ve been passed by the House of Representatives in February, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel hasn’t bothered to bring it to the Senate for a vote.

I won’t tell you who to vote for, but do some research. Find out which members of Congress truly support the same beliefs you do, and support them. If we really want change, we have to work for it. We have to replace what we have in office now with elected officials that aren’t in the NRA’s pocket and are unafraid of triggering hot-headed gun owners.

A discussion from PBS News about the next step and what needs to be done to prevent further gun violence. (YouTube | PBS NewsHour)

At the end of the day, Dayton is a city I’ve grown to love as I’ve spent more time here after graduating from high school in the country. To see what we’ve gone through this summer and have the tag of “mass shooting” attached to us is surreal.

So it’s time to take our safety back. Elect officials that will do something about gun violence. Take self-defense classes, be aware of your surroundings and use the buddy system. Give the people you love a hug. 

There is always something you can do, big or small, in the face of tragedy.

Henry Wolski
Executive Editor

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