Waters: Proactivity, empathy are crucial for addressing campus gun violence

Another American college campus endured a frightening and tragic active shooter situation on Monday Sept. 14 when an assailant fatally shot Delta State University professor Ethan Schmidt in Cleveland, Mississippi.

Delta State professor Shannon Lamb has been named as a suspect. He had not been seen since he reported a murder on the morning that Delta State’s campus was placed on lockdown. Law enforcement officials suggest that Lamb’s motive may have been a triangular connection between Schmidt and Lamb’s girlfriend, 41-year old Amy Prentiss. Lamb shot her dead earlier that day in their home in Gautier, Mississippi—nearly 300 miles away from campus.

Delta State has roughly 3,500 undergraduate students and its campus is 112 acres larger than Geneseo’s. We may be wrapped up in the small-town feel of Geneseo; a feeling we know and love. Like Delta State students, we may think of these halls as a bastion of safety and knowledge—somewhere where the thought of a tragedy such as this occurring seem impossible. But the scary reality is that it is possible for horrific events like this to occur, even at smaller universities.

The University at Buffalo also had a potential threat in its student union the very same day. Students at UB received alerts as an unconfirmed gunman dropped a weapon in the union, placed it back out of sight and quickly exited the building.

When thinking about gun violence on college campuses, one thing should remain clear: fear mongering is not the goal, but change is.

It is unclear what specific type of gun was used at Delta State, but we can determine that it must have been highly concealable. New York State is already known to be relatively strict on firearms through their ammunition limitations on handguns and their restrictions on assault weapons under the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement––SAFE—Act. There are no restrictions, however, on possessing or purchasing a long gun—nor must one have a hunting license to do so.

Students may not be able to do much about gun laws right now, but we must look into the safety of our campuses and discuss how to actively and effectively prevent these tragedies before they occur. Perhaps this means more blue emergency lights or more law enforcement agents on campus.

It could also be suggested that we as college students should be more reactive to tragedies such as this—we could meet these awful events with emotions and motivations that other groups may not feel. These awful, recurring events need to end.

We need to support each and every student, professor and staff member here at Geneseo. Our college is renowned for its supportive, friendly and incredibly involved community. We need to take this involvement and drive and use it to make positive changes in the face of this gun violence epidemic on college campuses.