The Shootings at Santa Monica (June 7, 2013)
Martin M. Goldstein
It could have been worse – much, much worse. A man clearly out of his mind, who had already killed four people, entered our Library crowded with students studying for Final Exams, and was about to open fire with an automatic weapon when he was taken down by a joint effort of the Santa Monica city and college police. It was an invasion of crazy into our normal world, and it shocked and hurt us deeply and profoundly. There’s nothing more I can say about the lunacy of having assault weapons available for the average citizen to buy and use that hasn’t been said. Things like that shouldn’t be happening, but they do happen. They did happen. They happened to us.It was in the aftermath of the shootings that both the wound and the healing became so clearly apparent. Santa Monica College is rightly seen as one of the jewels the crown of this progressive and prosperous city, and everybody in the city was shocked by this event. No – not there. Not at the College. But it was there, and since then, the school and community came together in a series of memorials and marches, culminating in a communal gathering at the Corsair Field. And it has worked. Through all the many efforts, including intensive grief counseling made available by the college, especially valuable to those who were on campus at the time (I observed it on television as it developed) – we have moved on. There is a memorial to Marcella Franco, the young student shot down in her car which crashed through the wall of the parking lot I use routinely. Her cousin works at the College; it was a death in the family. The flowers and candles are kept fresh. It is not forgotten, and for some never will be. But we have moved on, healed, and are now far better trained and prepared for such things in the future. Every time I step onto campus, however, or into my classroom, I now think about what to do if a shooter is at the door or outside the window. It’s different now. We are healed, but we are different. We have to be.