By Monica Mitrovic
Copy Desk Chief
“ALERT: Lockdown on campus,” Brookhaven College officials tweeted Nov. 29, 2016. “All outside doors are locked. No entry or exit into the building. If not at campus stay away.”
An introduction to sociology class was barely underway when a campuswide lockdown was initiated at 9:20 a.m. The professor maintained his composure as he herded confused students into a designated safe area in the classroom in S Building. The classroom has two large, glass walls and is across from campus police.
An emergency caller reported that man threatened to shoot Brookhaven students in the parking lot, according to nbcdfw.com. The incident occurred one day after Abdul Razak Ali Artan plowed his car into a group of people at Ohio State University and then attacked them with a knife. Eleven people were injured.
Seconds ticked by slowly as nervous students scrolled through their cellphones for more information or updates.
I contacted my loved ones because it was not a drill.
The longer the lockdown lasted, the more an unsettling calm washed over me. I could faintly hear my heartbeat in my ears as a delayed fight-or-flight response froze my hunched form. With steady hands, I managed to swiftly inform my loved ones of the situation. The Columbine, Sandy Hook, Charleston church, Pulse Orlando nightclub and South Carolina school shootings flashed through my mind as I kept panic at bay.
The lockdown was over in less than half an hour, but the fear didn’t dissipate nearly as fast.
RESULTS OF INACTION
It’s a minuscule inkling of the fear Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors experienced Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida. A former student, Nikolas Cruz, opened fire at the high school, and at least 17 people were killed and 14 others hospitalized, according to CNN.
Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, where 20 first-graders and six adults were killed, there have been at least 239 school shootings nationwide, according to The New York Times.
Two-hundred and thirty-nine.
“In those episodes, 438 people were shot, 138 of whom were killed,” according to The New York Times.
Over 100 lives were lost because lawmakers can only seem to offer thoughts and prayers instead of real action.
After the Feb. 14 shooting, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer challenged Florida Gov. Rick Scott on gun control laws. In response, Scott said, “We cannot let this pass without making something happen that hopefully, and it’s my goal that this will never happen again in my state.”
But a mass shooting occurred before during Scott’s term. In 2016, Omar Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, according to CNN, gunned down 49 people inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, the second deadliest mass shooting in the U.S.
After the Orlando shooting, CNN reporter Pamela Brown asked Scott whether he could accept any responsibility for the firearm laws in Florida, where it’s easier to purchase an AR-15 assault weapon than a handgun. Scott said: “Let’s remember, the Second Amendment has been around for over 200 years. It didn’t, it didn’t, you know, that’s not what killed innocent people. Evil killed innocent people. There’s gonna be a time to have a conversation about what we do to make our state or city, our country, safer again. But let’s have a conversation about how we destroy ISIS. Where’s that conversation?”
Lawmakers seem to never have had that gun control conversation, too focused on IS. It probably has nothing to do with the fact that they’re supported by the National Rifle Association. Right?
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Scott received an A+ rating from the NRA for his stance on firearms. During a re-election bid, a 2014 mailer from the NRA stated, “Re-electing Rick Scott as Governor will stop the gun control extremists from pushing their agenda to restrict your rights in Florida.”
He’s not the only politician with ties to the NRA. According to The Independent, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who tweeted his sympathy after the Parkland shooting, is reported to have also received an A+ rating and $3.3 million in donations from the NRA over the course of his career.
These tragic and traumatic shootings could have been avoided.
They still can be avoided, if lawmakers decide to stop evading serious gun control conversations as they offer thoughts and prayers. Those are important, but action is what is needed. Action that prevents people with bad intentions from committing mass murders.
Those complicit in the murders of victims of gun violence should be quick to put pen-to-paper and enact change before more lives are lost.
In an article for The New York Times, Christine Yared, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, wrote: “If you have any heart, or care about anyone or anything, you need to be an advocate for change. Don’t let any more children suffer like we have. Don’t continue this cycle. This may not seem relevant to you. But next time, it could be your family, your friends, your neighbors. Next time, it could be you.”