Washburn students and officers discuss their feelings toward gun violence as a response
to the school shooting incident at the Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
America has been in an uproar about gun laws ever since Feb. 14, the day Nikolas Cruz
killed 17 teenagers with an AR-15 assault rifle.
Many students have their own thoughts about gun violence and gun control, including
Kassadee Clark, a junior, mass media major from Washburn.
“I feel like we have the right to bear arms to a certain extent,” Clark said. “I believe there
should be an age limit on who should purchase guns. You need to be federally trained to own
anything automatic. I believe we have the right to conceal and carry. If anything happens you are legally obligated to interfere if anyone is in danger. If you need to have a license to own a car you have to have a license to own a gun.”
Anastasia Donley, a sophomore art history major from Washburn, also shared her
thoughts and ideas that could potentially help slow down gun violence.
“I think that if the U.S. is going to continue to be a country that doesn’t have strict gun
control regulations, then we should have things like liability,” Donley said. “Like, when people
rent houses or when people rent cars, there’s liability insurance that you get. So, if some
damages happen because of that, then you don’t get as much back later on. I think if we had that with gun control, it wouldn’t help solve our problems, because we still don’t have a great way to make sure people are protected when people decide to get guns, but I think if we had liability insurance with gun control then there would be less of a risk.”
Starting in Jan. 20 of this year, there have been 12 shootings since March 2. The most
recent shooting was at Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Two students were shot and killed in their
dorms on campus at Central Michigan University, according to Darran Simon, a journalist for
Sgt. Bill Henry, an officer from the Washburn Police Department, had quite a bit to say about his thoughts toward gun control and gun violence.
“We don’t have a gun problem in this country, we have a people problem,” Henry said.
“We have people who believe that the answer to their problems is to go out and kill innocent
victims. We have a society that is declining in our morals and our ability to treat humans with
respect and not kill people. That’s where our problems lie. No, I am not an advocate for gun
control. Gun control does not work. What gun control does is take people who are legal and law-abiding citizens and takes their ability to own their guns away.”
Henry descripted why he believes gun-free zone signs to be ineffective and and why gun control will not work.
“We end up punishing the ones who are law-abiding,” said Henry. “Criminals don’t care
about gun laws. Nothing stops a criminal from getting a gun if they want to get a gun. Those
gun-free sign zones, no one is going to walk up to that and say, ‘Oh I can’t go in there and kill
anybody today because it’s a gun free zone.’ We create these little areas to where that’s why they go to the schools. Schools are known across this nation as gun-free zones. So, the bad guys know they can go there and kill without fear. They can just have at it. It’s a very dangerous situation.”
Chris Enos, the chief of the Washburn Police Department, contributes his own opinion
about the issue.
“I understand why citizens want to ban guns, but I also think that it is a little bit
unrealistic because there are so many guns at this point,” Enos said. “Even if you ban them, it
doesn’t stop the guns that are out there. Let’s say, in a perfect world we get rid of all guns, and
some countries have that like Japan and Australia. Even If we ban them now, in 10 years from
now, what happens to the guns that are already here in people’s hands? Once again, in a perfect
world, even if you were to get all the guns out there, you still have active threats like you see
today from cars and explosives. The bad thing is, if people really want to do harm, there is lots of
different ways they can do that without guns.”
Different countries such as South Korea, Israel, Australia, and Japan, rarely have mass
shootings. Citizens in these countries must go through a list of standards before they can own a
gun. Because of this, Australia has not had a single mass shooting since 1996, according to Tara
Francis Chan, a writer for Business Insider.
Other Washburn students, like Caleb Lamp, a senior English major, had other thoughts.
“I think that gun control needs to be taken more seriously,” Lamp said. “I think right
now, when something like Florida happens, people say a lot of things they want to get done and
nothing ever happens. I think the biggest thing that would help would be a monitorization of gun
ammo because that would be kind of a loophole around the second amendment argument and
that’s what other countries do. In Japan, you can buy a gun, but you only get 50 rounds of ammo
ever for that gun. That’s enough to handle your home invasion, emergency situation kind of
things that people say they need guns for. But, it’s not enough for somebody to shoot up a high
school with. I feel like that would probably be the most effective route to go with.”
Anastasia Donley continued to preach about the issues with guns as well.
“It’s not kids shooting adults, it’s kids shooting kids,” Donley said. “I think that we need
to take a look at that and acknowledge the fact that these are teenagers shooting other teenagers
and we don’t know why. Yeah, they’re saying it’s mental illness, but that’s so broad. That might
be a reason, but unless they’re going to do something to help work towards helping people with
mental illnesses, or a way to recognize that, then I think they have to look at the fact that it’s still
teenagers shooting teenagers and that shouldn’t be something that’s happening.”
Gannon Tayrien, a senior political science major from Washburn, thinks we should
increase security measures federally rather than state by state.
“The AR-15, they might need to get rid of that,” Tayrien said. “You can mess with a pin
inside it and it goes from semi-automatic to fully automatic and then you can gun people down.
Maybe they need to get rid of guns like that or ban those kinds of guns. Also, we should only be
allowed to own so many guns. But, you can’t get rid of guns entirely because it’s too engrained
into our culture. For gun violence, they need to stop trying to find scapegoats for it. For instance,
they tried to blame video games for the recent shooter’s actions. They say that we’re so
desensitized to violence. Human history is nothing but violence. So why are only we desensitized
to it when there is less violence now.”
Chief Enos wants nothing but the students on campus to be safe, secure, and to always
have a plan.
“I think it’s important that our students know that they do have a police department here
that is armed and ready to respond to an active threat if something like that were to happen on
our campus,” said Enos. “We train, in fact Sgt. Henry is one of our trainers for all of our officers
here on campus, to respond to those threats. The actions of law enforcement that were seen at
Florida were unfortunate, but it wouldn’t happen on this campus. You would see a very fast
response to any kind of active threat that we have here on campus.”
Students can pre-plan for threats on campus by signing up for iAlert. Students must sign
up ahead of time. Go to washurn.edu/ialert and those registered will be sent emergency messages
if anything happens on campus.