Art by Sarah Rietz
Content Warning: This story discusses topics of gun violence and recent tragedies.
Transparency Item: The Perspectives section of the Graphic is comprised of articles based on opinion. This is the opinion and perspective of the writer.
A peaceful day abruptly interrupted by gunshots. Screaming. Panic. Deciding whether to run, hide or fight. Texting loved ones “I love you,” and not knowing who will live to see tomorrow.
This massacre sparked conversation about ending gun violence in schools, but the violence has not stopped. In fact, the number of mass shootings per year has grown, according to Britannica.
There is no denying that the Pepperdine community has been touched by gun violence. However, the recent shooting at Michigan State University may not have seemed as consequential due to the frequency of school shootings and the thousands of miles in between Malibu and East Lansing, Mich. As a Michigander myself, this attack hit close to home — literally and figuratively.
When my best friend called me and first told me about the shooting, there was nothing but chaos and panic — the shooter was still on the loose, and gunshots and misinformation seemed to be everywhere. Immediately, I asked about my friends and reached out to anyone I knew that attended MSU, trying to ensure their safety.
Thankfully, they were all safe but still in hiding, as the shelter-in-place order was still in effect. The terror I felt was still minuscule compared to what MSU’s students were going through as I listened to live news reports, received texts and updates from my Spartan friends and tried to track the shooter’s path through campus.
After being on the phone for hours, I heard news of the gunman killing himself — putting an end to the campus’ immediate threat and lifting the shelter-in-place order. The night of terror was over, but the violence altered many lives forever.
When one looks at the tragedy with historical context in mind, it becomes even more heartbreaking. The shooting at MSU on Feb. 13 came a day before the 5 and 15 year anniversaries of the Parkland and NIU shootings, respectively.
For many students, this was not their first school shooting. Survivors from the 2021 Oxford High School shooting and 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting lived through the shooting at MSU, according to The New York Times.
The fact that massacres like these are so widespread that students have endured multiple is horrifying. No person should ever have to go through that once, let alone twice.
How much longer will this have to go on? How much longer will we allow the creation of mass shooting veterans?
In the United States, gun violence has become a regular occurrence. When one hears news of another shooting at a school, the reaction is often, “another one?” rather than treating it as the horror that it truly is.
This is partially due to the U.S.’ unique gun culture; it is the only country in the world where there are more guns than people, as well as the country with the “highest firearm homicide rate in the developed world,” according to CNN.
At some point, it stops being a matter of simply supporting the Second Amendment and protecting one’s freedom; it becomes a matter of public safety, where guns are so readily available that if someone wanted to enact serious damage, they would have easy access to deadly firearms.
Only 52% of Americans want stricter gun laws, according to a 2021 Gallup poll. However, this was before the 647 mass shootings in 2022 and the 84 in 2023, according to Gun Violence Archive; these numbers alone indicate the desperate need for change.
So, what can be done?
To start, stricter gun laws are needed.
“US states with more relaxed gun control laws and higher rates of gun ownership have higher rates of mass shootings,” The BMJ wrote.
Comprehensive background checks before one buys a gun should be mandatory; while it is federally required for licensed gun dealers, background checks are not a necessity when unlicensed dealers are selling online or at gun shows, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.
Taking action comes in many forms. Reach out to your representatives, donate to organizations that are lobbying for more regulation or even help out a victim’s GoFundMe. Research the Prevention Institute and Everytown for Gun Safety, organizations passionate about making positive change.
I made the mistake of accepting mass shootings were just a tragic part of today’s violence-ridden world. I never confronted the fact that it could happen to the people I love until it did. Don’t make the same mistake; make a change before you are forced to.
People can hold vigils, post pictures and keep the victims in their thoughts. But unless real, direct action is taken, innocent people will keep being killed.
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