In the aftermath of a deadly community college shooting last Thursday that left nine dead, students opened up about the impact of gun violence affecting the nation and themselves.
“I’m just waiting for the next one to happen, hoping it’s not here,” said Ryan Krupa, individual studies student. The Umpqua Community College shooting marked the 142nd school shooting (including gun discharges and shootings where no one was harmed) since Adam Lanza fatally shot 26 people at Sandy Hook elementary school in 2012.
Six community colleges have been the subject of shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre. “It’s very tragic that you can’t feel safe at school,” said Nile Lynch, physical education student.
“Seeing that across the country, I wasn’t shocked but it did alarm something in my brain that something does need to be done,” said Emanuel Babb, liberal arts student. In President Obama’s speech following the massacre, he mentioned that mass shootings have become “routine.”
Derrick Henry, criminal justice major said, higher security at community colleges is the answer to preventing mass shootings. “People are going to say ‘we’re having our rights violated’ but you have to ask yourself: do you want to have your rights violated or die? Pick one’,” he said. Since the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, security measures have been tightened at many four-year institutions but community colleges, like Umpqua have fewer resources for higher security.
“I don’t think the average person needs an automatic assault rifle,” said Sarah Crouse, individual studies student about tightening restriction on firearms. Christopher Harper-Mercer, the shooter at Umpqua, was armed with three pistols and a semiautomatic rifle on the fourth day of the fall semester at the college. Fourteen firearms were found at Mercer’s apartment, all of which were purchased legally.
“It’s not guns because they’re just an object,” said Tim Grashaw, CIS student. After the president’s speech last Thursday, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called the President’s remarks following the shooting “ignorantly inflammatory.” Republican presidential hopeful, Ben Carson said, “Gun control only works for normal law abiding citizens. It doesn’t work for crazies.”
Rebecca Foster believes changing the way mental illness is viewed can prevent future tragedies. “People should put more emphasis on taking away the stigma of mental illness,” she said. According to law enforcement officials, Mercer had a long-time history with mental illness, white supremacy, anarchy and anti-religious views.
The gunman in last Thursday’s attack reportedly shot Christians in the head after asking for the victim’s religion. According a victim’s brother, who escaped the classroom shooting, those who identified as a different religion were shot in another area of the body. “People were shot. People were injured. People lost lives. It’s not just about Christians,” said Devin Mahar, criminal justice student.