When there’s a spree killing, The Truth About Guns publishes the name of the killer or killers, and his or her image. That’s our policy. For some reason, Chris Mercer’s homicidal attack at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College has triggered a particularly strong desire to refrain from naming the perpetrator and keep his picture out of the media, as both our commentariat and the LA Times story ‘Don’t say his name’: Oregon community wants to make shooter anonymous indicate. To quote a man who was anything but, I want to be perfectly clear . . .
Although TTAG has evolved into a pro-gun advocacy blog, our main thrust remains journalistic. As a journalist with some 20 years in experience, I feel an obligation to report facts. One of the facts of the Umpqua slaughter is that the killer’s name was Chris Mercer. If I hid that fact or shunned his picture, it would betray the ethos underlying this entire endeavor.
Not to put too fine a point on it, this website is called The Truth About Guns. Not The Positive Spin on Guns. In the same sense that calling gun control “gun safety” obfuscates the truth about the crusade for civilian disarmament, only referring to Chris Mercer as “the killer” and eschewing his picture blunts the truth about his crime.
Mercer may be an archetype, but he’s also a man. A specific man with a specific history. We need to examine his nature, the full and complete facts surrounding the killing, to gain insight into what we can and cannot do to stop similar slaughter – before, during and afterwards.
I’ll go further.
Voldemorting Mercer is infantile. It reflects a completely understandable, but ultimately fruitless desire to turn away from the full horror unleashed by the Army reject. To deny Mercer’s existence is childish. As adults with adult responsibilities we have to face evil men and women head-on. Because there will other spree killers, and further terrorist attacks on innocent Americans. Our best weapons against them are vigilance, courage and clarity. And, of course, guns.