OPINION | The solution to gun violence in the US

The mass shooting at Michigan State University on Feb. 13 once again brings up the topic of gun safety. Brynlee Wade | Sun News Daily

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We are the generation of mass shootings. There have been 366 school shootings since 1999.

Hiding underneath my desk at school for a lockdown drill while I waited for a police officer to unlock the door was deemed normal at a young age, and this was only twelve years ago. I remember being in early elementary school doing practice lockdown drills wondering why we had to do them biannually. I didn’t truly realize why I had to hide behind cabinets until I was in middle school. It wasn’t until actual lockdowns in my district were happening because of potential shooters that I realized how real gun violence is.

We have become accustomed to jumping out of fear when a balloon pops because we think it’s a gunshot. Similarly, when a fire alarm goes off, we ask whether it is a real fire or a potential school shooting. 

The Michigan State shooting that happened early this month has been widely popular in the news. A gunman opened fire in two buildings, killing three students and injuring five.

This is not the first mass shooting of the year. USA Today has reported 71 mass shootings this year, and it is only February. It feels like this year has barely started, and it concerns me how that many shootings have already happened.

Gun control has been a problem since 1776 when the United States was founded. Technology is rising and new ways to obtain guns are being found. Not only that, new ways to produce guns are changing the weight, accuracy and manufacturing time. As technology advances, both gun violence and safety seem to become more of an issue.

A couple of things stand certain in this violent mess: students of all ages need to know about gun violence, what to do if a mass shooting happens, and the knowledge of why gun violence is prominent in communities.

Gun violence stigma

There are many laws that have been proposed to stop mass shootings. Some of the laws involve gun restrictions; others laws call for mental health screenings when purchasing a gun.

One important thing can be done without having a new law established- creating a culture around gun safety.  

Gun violence is a public health problem, and mass shootings should not be happening regularly. We need to change the way gun control and violence is talked about.

When we establish a culture of gun safety for the younger generation, gun violence, its impact and issues can be talked about instead of pushed aside.

When we see news about school shootings, it is talked about for a couple of weeks and then forgotten about in the media. Nothing is done about it. Instead of pushing it aside, we can talk about what to do when another one happens.

We need to teach everyone about how to deal with anger, and it should not be correlated to the violence of any kind.

Having proper mental health screenings before receiving a permit to carry or buy a gun is also a way to stop potential shootings from occurring.

Getting a gun in Utah is not hard to do. Having more precautions and background checks can limit the number of people who are able to purchase a gun. This can stop people who want a gun for the wrong reasons.

Safety on campus

On Utah Tech’s campus, one thing I have felt safe seeing is the number of police officers on campus. Even at night, I have seen officers around campus, and that has helped me feel safe on campus.

Students should also be aware of the gun policies on campus. Knowing the rules and implications will help students feel more aware of safety on campus.

The Utah Tech Student Rights and Responsibilities said: “Illegal or unauthorized possession or use of a firearm, ammunition, explosives, weapons or dangerous chemicals on University property or at University events; or use of such items, even if legally possessed, in a threatening or irresponsible manner that causes fear of imminent bodily harm.”

Another option for continuing to keep the campus safe is to have an ID requirement to get into buildings. This would stop anyone that does not go to the university from getting in.

Sadly, gun violence will never be completely eliminated; however, it is important to have a stance on gun control and how it can impact our community. Even if you don’t have a strong opinion on gun control, knowing about laws in our community and knowing about gun control is more important today than it ever has been. We need to teach the younger generations about the impact guns can have. Keeping guns safe and away from minors, showing statistics of gun violence, and teaching everyone to not act out of rage is a way to start. There are steps and implications needed to be made to change and decrease the number of mass shootings.

If you have something to report to campus police or see suspicious behavior, call 435-627-4300. If it is an emergency call 911.

As the year goes on, more shootings are inevitable. Instead of seeing the statistics on social media, share them. If we as a community continue to not express concerns and knowledge about gun control and the implications if we are not safe, we will continue to live in this circle of tragedy. Whether that means changing safety regulations or laws surrounding gun violence, there is always more we can do when students are being affected by mass shootings worldwide.