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‘Not Again’- Gun violence on campus blamed on mental health

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Paul Miller/ UAlbanyphotos.com : Students walk through UAlbany’s Lecture Center. There have been 74 school shootings in the last 18 months. UAlbany had its own active shooter situation in 1994.

By Megan Mahar

10/13/2015


 

It was a Thursday evening and I was in the middle of watching the Steelers vs. Ravens game when the news appeared on my television: There had been a shooting at a community college in Oregon. My first thought was “not again.”

Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, shot and killed nine people and injured seven at Umpqua Community College in a matter of minutes before taking his own life during a shoot-out with police, according to CNN.

In witness statements for the New York Post, it appeared that the gunman would ask people if they were Christian and, if they were, he would shoot them in the head. If they were not or refused to answer he would shoot them in the leg.

In an article released by CNN, it stated that this is the 74th school shooting in an 18-month time period with an average of one shooting every five weeks. Seeing that this number is so high, I was shocked to learn that the school had just one security guard who was unarmed. As a student, I would feel much safer knowing that the campus I was on was protected by armed security. How many lives could have been saved if all schools had armed security?

The Huffington Post took a statement from the gunman’s mother who admitted that her son had been struggling with mental health issues, but did not go into further detail.

This is no excuse to murder innocent people. That also raises the question – if his mother knew he was in possession of firearms and knew that he was battling mental health problems, why wasn’t more precaution taken?

CNN reported that investigators found 14 firearms connected to the gunman, all of which were legally obtained by the gunman and other family members. It is scary to know that a person capable of shooting up a school was able to legally obtain guns as well. I am not attacking gun laws, but I am a gun owner myself and I remember the process of background checks before I was allowed to purchase one. It was pretty easy.

That is where I think the problem lies. It is too easy to obtain guns. These days, most Wal-Mart stores sell guns. Like other gun stores, they also run background checks, but even background checks will not necessarily show a person’s history of mental health, so one of the most important factors of whether a person should own a gun or not is often overlooked.

I think that all guns should require permits the way pistols do. A pistol permit requires a person to have four references and their signatures vouching that the person applying is capable of holding a pistol permit. They also require a person to complete a safety course and to provide fingerprints. It also asks questions directly about mental health. I know some people probably think that they could always lie, but then there are still those four references that one would need to vouch for them.

Had the process for all guns been like this in the first place, I don’t think that we would have just had our 74th school shooting in such a short period. Parents send their children to school to be educated and to thrive in the world. Instead, we live in a society where many parents have to worry about whether their child’s school is going to be the next school shooting target.

According to the New York Post, President Obama gave a statement saying, “I hope and pray that I don’t have to come out again during my tenure as president to offer my condolences to families in these circumstances… but based on my experience as president, I can’t guarantee that, and that’s terrible to say, and it can change.”

Let’s just hope it does.

 

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