Editorial: Walmart guns and ‘what ifs’

On Sept. 28 there was a shooting at a playground at an elementary school in South Carolina in which a six-year-old boy died, and on Oct. 3 there was a highly publicized incident in which reality star Kim Kardashian was held at gunpoint in a Paris hotel. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been over 43,000 incidents of gun violence in 2016 so far.

In Pennsylvania, a firearm can be concealed and carried on public streets and property, as long as the owner has the appropriate license. Because the University is private property, and as per University policy, firearms (among other weapons) are not permitted unless expressly allowed by the chief of the Department of Public Safety. Separate from the debate on Second Amendment rights is the debate of how our campus could be made safer.

In sleepy, secure Lewisburg, what impact, if any, does gun violence have on our campus? Most students, faculty, and staff likely don’t consider the possibility of falling victim to an act of gun violence on a daily basis while at school. And statistically, that is a well-founded ignorance. The odds of being shot in Lewisburg are far lower than they would be in an urban setting. But as we’ve seen over the last few years, places that feel the safest—churches, clubs, movie theaters, and schools—can yield the greatest tragedies.

Public Safety recently purchased two metal detectors, which will be utilized at certain events such as concerts or sporting events, or whenever Public Safety deems it a prudent measure. The Department must be commended for this foresight, especially in a town where the local Walmart has a section that permits members of the public to purchase guns with minimal restrictions. In the event of an active shooter, however unlikely, chaos would surely ensue. Are students prepared for that eventuality?

Students, faculty, and staff are not currently required to go through any kind of active shooting training, neither by the University nor Public Safety, although training sessions are held upon request. The groups that request such trainings are generally Residential Advisers or staff, according to Public Safety officials. The trainings led by Public Safety come directly from the Department of Homeland Security, and the general advice for members of the community is to follow the procedures taught for the event of a fire: do your best to get out of whatever building you are in.

Most students probably haven’t given much thought to the regulations and procedures regarding weapons on our campus, which might mean that it’s time for the University to produce some kind of literature on emergency situations such as an active shooter.

In the aftermath of tragedies caused by perpetrators of gun violence, officials can never feel like they have done enough to prevent such a situation from happening. The “what ifs” are undoubtedly infinite. So while the University could possibly do more to educate their students, staff, and faculty, why don’t those same members of the community take it upon themselves to understand exactly how to react? It stands to reason that contacting Public Safety to organize a training session—turning it into a team-wide or organization-wide event, where it can reach the most eyes and ears possible, would be a worthwhile endeavor.

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