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Opinion: Emergency situations should be taken seriously at VSU

Due to the recent school shooting at Parkland High School in Parkland, Florida, gun control conversations sparked across the nation. Faculty, staff, students and parents across America can’t help but prepare for the unexpected.

Though gun control has been a topic of discussion since incidents such as Sandy Hook, the Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando, Florida and the Las Vegas concert mass shooting, I can’t help but wonder the state of our “great country.”

As a junior college student, I shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not open carry means ‘open season’ on campus. I shouldn’t have to worry about the safety of my younger siblings at school or if an angry student will open fire in one of my mother’s middle school classrooms.

Director of VSU Public Safety, Alan Rowe, assures public safety is always a forefront issue even in his day-to-day. He attends trainings for incidents like school shootings and though you would hope nothing of sorts would occur at VSU, it’s better to be safe than do nothing at all.

“Our Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan is reviewed locally and at the Board of Regents office in Atlanta annually,” Rowe said. “However, after each activation of the plan, such as Hurricane Irma, we have debriefing sessions to make additional changes and reviews.”

The active shooter or hostile intruder is not a new concept, and we can research and find that these events have been happening for the last hundred years. What has changed is the general public’s access to news and information.

“Stopping or effectively responding to an active shooter will be a collective event, not solely the role of law enforcement,” Rowe said. “The more the public is aware of these events occurring and knowing how or when to report concerns is how we hopefully prevent tragedy.”

Students Markesia Barron, a junior English major, believes gun control and the constant occurrence of mass shootings is a topic that will keep building up until it comes to a head.

“It’s bubbling up,” Barron said. “I hope nothing happens here at VSU or anywhere else for that matter; however, the fact that you never know what can happen is still possible.”

So, the controversial question is do people kill people, or do guns kill people?

A gun is only a tool that you choose on whether or not to use it. As a person, that defines your moral character. No one can make you murder 20 elementary school children or nine church goers in bible study.

VSU alumni Ashley Butts believes the amendment itself should be amended.

“Realistically, how can you control who owns a gun and who does not,” Butts said. “You can have mental health checks, but who’s to say someone who purchased a gun 50 years ago is going to get it registered after they have had it for so long.”

Personally, I feel as though we will never have gun control. There may always be that fear of one day someone saying the wrong thing to the right person. In today’s society, you never know who you’re dealing with.

However, I also do not believe it is an excuse to allow mass murderers to be labeled as “misunderstood” or “troubled.”

In my opinion, it’s the same excuse that is given to those who operate mass shootings. Just because he or she may have been adopted or had a bad day does not mean they should be given less of a repercussion.

For VSU however, there is an active shooter plan and training in place.

“The active shooter or hostile intruder plan is part of VSU’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan,” Rowe said. “While an active shooter is often the most newsworthy event, we must prepare for all types of emergencies such as severe weather, bomb threats, hazardous materials release, tornados and even earthquakes. The administration at VSU has been outstanding in its support of our planning mission.”

Junior criminal justice major, Quiane Turner, believes there is nothing that can be done as far as prevention; however, the officers need to be ready and respond quickly if something ever was to occur.

“I should not have to worry about my peers bringing a gun to campus,” Turner said. “However, gun control is not the issue. It is how easily guns can be accessed because anywhere in America at 18, you can buy a shotgun and a riffle. At 21, you can purchase a handgun. That should already hint at a problem.”

As far as VSU Police is concerned, VSU is in their hands. It is our job as students to report any suspicious activity and utilize simple amenities such as the VSU’s Counseling Center as early precautions to dangerous situations.

Story by Taylor Sutherland, Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of VSU. 

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