Clearer actions from institutions are vital in fight against gun violence | #students | #parents

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On Sunday, Nov. 13, a former University of Virginia football player allegedly shot and killed three students, who were current members of the football team, and left two injured. The university ordered students to shelter in place for 12 hours while the University of Virginia Police Department detained the shooter.

The shooting at UVA is emotionally taxing on many SU students. The two institutions bear many similarities — they are both medium-sized universities with a high sense of school spirit. Both schools play in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Two coaches on SU’s football team have previously coached UVA’s team: Jason Beck and Robert Anae. In a statement from SU Athletics, Offensive Coordinator Anae relayed his “profound sorrow” for the deaths of Virginia players Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry. He had a close relationship with them throughout their collegiate football careers, from recruiting, developing and mentoring these young men.

College campuses are open fields for school shooters. There is nothing stopping anyone from walking onto campus or into a building with a gun. SU needs to make clear what its safety plan is if there were to be an active shooter on campus. Students should not have to be on lockdown for 12 hours like the students at UVA were. And the university’s chief of police Tim Longo’s promise to “try to do better next time” is not enough. Those not near a shelter or a safe space should be informed by the university on what to do in the instance of an active shooter.

The shooter shot his three fellow students on a bus in the university’s parking garage after they had just returned from a field trip in Washington, DC for their drama class. The three victims did not expect to be killed that day — they were simply planning on enjoying a play for their class. To make matters worse, UVA was previously aware that the shooter was a threat after a student reported that he made a comment about possessing a gun.

The investigation revealed that the shooter had been convicted in 2021 of a misdemeanor concealed weapons violation, just one of several misdemeanor charges that he had been charged with over recent years. Although students are obligated to report a concealed weapons violation to UVA, the shooter did not. He then refused to cooperate when officials questioned him about it and eventually went before a student judiciary body on Oct. 27.

UVA should have suspended the shooter from their institution immediately after knowing that he could be a threat to the safety of other students. Instead, they kept him on campus and allowed him to be around other students. Even though the university did not prove that the shooter had a gun prior to the shooting, he still should have been suspended until the case was closed.

Like UVA, SU’s policies also prohibit any possession or use of a firearm or other weapons, but both schools have little protocols in place to enforce said rules. The lack of immediate reaction and protocol for such an incident, even after the patterns of gun violence in our country and in schools, is alarming because violence is not a new occurrence for SU students. In the past, students have called attention to the continuous lack of safety protocols on campus.

On multiple occasions, international students have reported being robbed at gunpoint at the Aspen apartment complex. Those living on South Campus have also reported a string of burglaries that are still occurring today. The Department of Public Safety sends routine emails to students living on campus telling them to lock their doors and protect their belongings.

Given the rise in crime on and around SU’s campus, the university has failed to properly address the safety of its students. This was evident during #NotAgainSU, when a student airdropped a manifesto written by the Christchurch, New Zealand mosque shooter to students in Bird Library. Afterward, students were left mostly in the dark about the incident and expected to go to classes the next day as if nothing had happened. SU’s administration then assessed and found nothing related to the incident, and DPS announced that there was no specific threat to the university, ignoring students’ fears.

Many students across the nation have personal stories of school or public shootings. Discussions around this topic now feel repetitive, and some have even become desensitized to this topic. Such an important conversation should not be going in this direction. We are stuck in a cycle of reports of sudden shootings and officials stating they will implement gun-control legislation. After a few days, there is the usual silence with no actions taken. We, as citizens, need to hold our officials accountable in their promise for change and call them out when they favor the gun industry over the people they’re meant to represent.

People who favor guns often refer to the ideology that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But such mindsets seem to ignore the overall gun issue in our country. Compared to other wealthy countries, Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed in a gun homicide. This is a result of the U.S.’ weak or non-existent gun laws while having more guns—the U.S. has 393 million—than any comparable nation.

The district that contains Syracuse recently elected pro-gun Republican Brandon Williams to Congress. He has publicly stated that he will fight against Congress’ efforts to pass gun reforms that limit access to firearms. Instead, Williams recommends a federal concealed carry law, an action that favors and mimics the language of the gun industry rather than the traumatized general public. As inhabitants of Syracuse and constituents, we must pay close attention to his movements in such dire times. Such pro-gun movements have proven to be a threat as the death toll by gun violence has increased. SU has a responsibility to this city and students to speak out against such rhetoric.

Following this lethal incident, SU must send out a statement to the community promising that they will protect their students and faculty, with tangible steps being drawn out. If there is a potential threat to students, even one that has not been proven, that person needs to be removed from campus immediately until the threat is proven to not be real. SU students deserve to know that their university will protect them from any possible shooters, especially given how common mass shootings have become in the U.S.

The Daily Orange Editorial Board serves as the voice of the organization and aims to contribute the perspectives of students to discussions that concern Syracuse University and the greater Syracuse community. The editorial board’s stances are determined by a majority of its members. You can read more about the editorial board here. Are you interested in pitching a topic for the editorial board to discuss? Email [email protected].

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