Stop Sacrificing Students for Gun Rights


One of the most contested topic in the great American political debate is gun control. There is no quicker way to ruin a family dinner or end a friendship than starting a conversation about gun rights in America. It is absolutely unacceptable that mass shootings and gun violence have become not only standard in the U.S., but expected.

For students, school shootings are a daily worry as they become more and more frequent, and schools allot time in the day, taking away valuable teaching time, to practice active shooter drills. Most people will either remember or have knowledge of a particularly brutal school shooting that happened in 1999: the Columbine High School shooting. At the time, it was the deadliest high school shooting with 13 killed and 20 injured. Sadly, that is no longer the case. This can be attributed as the turning point for many when school shootings began to be normalized. 

The next devastating school shooting that is ingrained in every generation’s head, but is especially prominent in the memories of Gen Z as this was the first real encounter with school gun violence, is Sandy Hook. This deadly elementary school shooting occurred in 2012 and took the lives of 26 people. Both Columbine and Sandy Hook garnered national attention and remain common knowledge due to the number of people murdered on those days. The years that followed were littered with equally as horrific school shootings with equally as high death counts. 

Flash forward to last week, when a gunman killed three people and injured five more at Michigan State University (MSU). In this instance, the gunman had no connection to MSU, making it more difficult for law enforcement to figure out the motive. Due to a lack of universal background checks in Michigan, the shooter was able to purchase a firearm legally despite having felony charges against him for another firearm related crime. How is it ethical with the current state of the U.S. and with the knowledge of the number of shootings that happen in this country per year to not have legally mandated universal background checks? It is officially easier to buy a gun in Michigan than it is to be approved to rent an apartment. 

 For a few students at MSU, this is the second mass shooting they have survived. One student survived Sandy Hook 11 years ago and another, Emily Riddle, survived a shooting at her high school 14 months before the shooting at MSU took place. The Sandy Hook shooting was 11 years ago and nothing has changed. It is incomprehensible that a student has lived through two mass school shootings in 21 years. Even in the wake of 647 mass shootings in 2022 alone claiming 44,000 lives, this country does not feel compelled to save the lives of its citizens, but rather turns a blind eye and allows history to repeat itself. 

MSU is not the only collegiate shooting to have made national news in recent years. In 2007, there was a mass shooting at Virginia Tech that resulted in the deaths of 32 people. At the end of 2022, there was a shooting at University of Virginia resulting in the murder of three football players and injuring two other students. These types of emergencies are becoming more and more common in a university setting. Fordham itself has a robust emergency plan in place should an active shooter situation occur. 

The first positive thing Fordham has done is require all Public Safety officers to receive alert training from the NYPD counterterrorism unit. There is an emergency messaging system in place in the form of mass text or email communication of the situation, but should community members miss the messages, the blue lights on campus double as speakers and will project the announcement across campus. Additionally, Fordham officers are armed and highly trained in how to use their weapon as all officers are ex-law enforcement. Fordham has prepared as best they can, but it is impossible to tell if this planning can withstand the chaos and terror of an active shooter situation. However, most students have grown up preparing for and worrying over this emergency as these deadly attacks on schools became a norm.
Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer said it best in the wake of the shooting at MSU: “Our campuses, churches, classrooms and communities should not be battlefields.” This is, sadly, what schools, malls, movie theaters and places of worship have turned into because of the selfishness and lack of compassion on the part of those who continue to advocate for gun possession in the wake of these incomprehensible, violent tragedies. If you conduct a Google search of the top risk factors for gun violence, at the top of every list is easy accessibility to guns due to the lack of regulations and laws in this country. No matter what the other risk factors are, they could not contribute to gun violence if there was no gun to begin with. 

Owning a gun should not be a right. Owning a weapon that can only hurt or kill a person should be a privilege. If you believe otherwise due to an archaic document written by long dead men even after reading a nowhere near comprehensive list of recent school shootings, then a serious question needs to be asked of your morality.