Last Thursday I watched a video entitled “Surviving an Active Shooter,” a theatrical, high-budget short film created by Ohio State in conjunction with the OSU police department. In the film, a gunman is shown entering an academic building on campus and proceeds to pull out a handgun and fire at innocent students and faculty. The video, while informative, truly made me realize how desperately and pathetically this country is struggling to find a reactive solution to a problem that should be handled proactively.
Minutes after watching this terrifying video, I read the first news article about the community college shooting in Roseburg, Oregon. Another school, another town, another 10 lives with hopes, dreams and futures cut short.
As I read the breaking news stories covering the shooting, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmingly angry. Sad, yes. But as President Barack Obama so accurately stated in his speech following the massacre, “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough.”
I am sad for the victims and families that were affected by this and every mass shooting. But my sadness is absolutely worthless in the face of senseless murder. My sadness will not prevent another 10 people from dying at the hands of a coward with a weapon. But my anger might.
So let it be known that I am angry that I live in a country where multiple military-grade assault rifles can be obtained by a mentally ill murderer. I am angry that the United States of America has had 133 mass shootings in which four or more victims were killed in the past 14 years, the most of any developed country in the world. I am angry that I live in a country where defense against terrorism is taken so seriously that I have to be X-rayed to get on a plane, but an armed murderer can waltz into an elementary school and kill dozens of children with weapons that were purchased in this very country.
I am angry, and I am scared. I am scared to sit in my lecture halls, because our academic buildings are not locked. I am scared to sit in a movie theater, because those doors aren’t locked either. I am scared to go to church, because church doors are always open. At what point will we realize that locking our doors will not stop evil from entering them? At what point will we realize that making educational videos will not save our lives? At what point will we realize that we shouldn’t have to prepare for these situations?
No matter what gun advocates may say, guns do kill people. Guns were created to kill. Yes, a gun sitting on a table does not fire itself, but a person standing in a doorway unarmed is incapable of mass murder. So let’s stop bickering over the chicken-and-egg argument and start making change.
Gun violence is no longer an issue that we can sweep under our doorsteps. It is an epidemic that we must stop by implementing stronger common sense gun laws that prevent people with mental illnesses (associated with homicidal tendencies) or criminal histories from getting their hands on guns. Period. We need to change our nation’s stance on gun ownership as a right to as a privilege, a privilege that must be earned and that can be taken away.
When we finally stop reacting to gun violence and start proactively preventing gun violence, we will all be safer. Until this is done, I will remain angry, and I urge my fellow classmates to consider their own safety as a student in this country. Watch the OSU gun safety video. Ask yourself if learning how to survive an active shooter was something that you wanted to be taught in college. This is our generation’s burden to bear; let’s stop being sad and get something done about it.
Katie Wilson is a third-year in strategic communication at Ohio State.