Two days ago, a man walked freely onto Michigan State University’s campus and went on a shooting spree, walking around campus with a loaded automatic rifle. He shot and injured five students. For three of the students, these gunshots were fatal.
They died a slow and agonizing death, terrified and alone on a college campus that was meant to be a safe haven, miles away from loved ones.
The victims weren’t even spared the post-mortem mercy of having their killer be locked up. The culprit, identified as 43-year-old Anthony Dwayne McRae, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound before the police could track him down and arrest him.
Although 2023 just began, this was far from the first mass shooting of the year. The tragedy that befell MSU days ago marked the 71st mass shooting in 2023 — and the seventh school shooting — in just two and a half months.
If past years’ data is predictive, we’ll have a lot more mass shootings this year, a daunting thought. According to the K-12 School Shooting Database, there were 114 school shootings in 2020, 250 in 2021, and 300 in 2022.
As college students, we shouldn’t have to come to school everyday with our wills written in our back pockets. We shouldn’t have to worry about whether our first day of classes for the semester will also be our last. We shouldn’t have to learn how to turn our classrooms into a survival bunker, and how to turn our textbooks into bullet shields.
School shootings are a problem that plagues the United States almost exclusively. In most countries, the process of buying and owning a gun requires extensive background checks, classes, home inspections and police interviews. The whole process can take weeks, or even months. In America, you can buy a gun in under an hour.
America also boasts a distinct lack of background checks when it comes to purchasing a firearm, a problem that has proved deadly for many. In Michigan State’s case, McRae had an extensive criminal history of gun violence. He was arrested in 2019 for carrying a gun without a permit, and had a history of serious mental health issues.
Despite this, he never had his gun formally taken away from him.
How many more shootings have to take place for gun reform to be taken seriously? What prominent figure has to be killed for people to realize that this is a real problem with dire effects?