When Director of Campus Safety Bob Hooper spoke at Orientation Leader training in August 2017, he said it’s a matter of when an active shooter situation will happen on Kenyon’s campus, not a matter of if. A recent CNN article pointed out that “of the 30 deadliest shootings in the US dating back to 1949, 19 have occurred in the last 10 years.” These current trends and statistics indicate that there will one day be an active shooter on Kenyon’s campus. That is terrifying.
The shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. reopened the gun control debate last week. It did not take long for people on the political right to say the tragedy should not be exploited for the purpose of common sense gun control. This is a mental health issue, not a gun issue, anti-gun control politicians and activists said.
This claim is ridiculous and offensive. It stigmatizes people with mental illnesses, which is dangerous. Beyond that, it ignores the real issue. Ron Honberg, senior policy adviser at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said to Politico, “It feels like mental illness is being used as a political football to deflect attention away from some other important issues, like whether we need sensible gun control laws in this country.”
Other countries don’t have a chronic mass shooting problem like the United States. Don’t people in the Netherlands have mental health issues? Mass shootings are a specific, American problem. We can’t possibly blame it on mental illness.
In 1996, there was a school shooting in Scotland and 17 people were killed. What did the United Kingdom do in response? It outlawed handguns. Scotland hasn’t had a school shooting since. Ireland, where I studied abroad in the spring of 2017, has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world. There is no right to own a gun there. They have never had a mass shooting incident – an event where there are at least four victims – like the ones that happen in the U.S.
So what will it take to actually implement gun control in this country? I am optimistic. This time, survivors of the shooting — high schoolers — implored elected officials to implement common sense gun control. The thoughts and prayers that President Donald Trump and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) offer don’t cut it for them or anyone. I have hope for the future when I see my generation take up this cause.
There is something else that gives me hope in these troubled times: midterm elections. We have a chance to vote out representatives who have an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA). In November, we have the opportunity to vote out Representative Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio7), who believes that the Second Amendment “is a God-given right of the people.” The NRA also gave $2,000 to Gibbs in his most recent campaign.It’s time we elected someone who cares more about the God-given right to live than the right to own guns. The lives of all of us, whether we’re at Kenyon or anywhere, are too precious.
Nate Rosenberg ’18 is a religious studies major from Lancaster, Pa. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.