OUR VIEW: We demand an end to school shootings

How many more?

How many more students have to die? How many more school shootings need to happen?

When will we see change?

As of Thursday, there have been 84 mass shootings in the United States in 2023, and 6,270 people have died from incidents related to guns, according to the Gun Violence Archive. A mass shooting, as defined by GVA, involves at least four victims, either injured or killed.

In Ohio, there have been three mass shootings this year. Ohio laws do not require “permits, background checks or firearm registration” for handgun purchases from a private individual, according to the U.S. Concealed Carry Association.

A man shot and killed three students and injured five at Michigan State Feb. 13.

Michigan State University and Kent State University are both state-funded universities in the Midwest.

Michigan State University has over 50,000 students, as of fall 2022, whereas Kent State has over 23,000 students, as of spring 2023, on its main campus.

There have been at least 29 incidents of gunfire at K-12 schools nationwide, as of Feb. 21 according to Everytown Research and Policy. Eight people have died and 23 have been injured.

In 2023, too many students have died.

The shootings have happened in small towns, suburbs and cities.

The numbers prove the tragedies, trauma and deaths caused by gun violence can happen anywhere – even at our own university.

We should not have to worry if we will get shot today.

We should feel safe on campus. We should feel safe walking in the hallways of any building on campus. We should feel safe sitting in a classroom.

When we see someone walking slowly toward our newsroom or outside our classroom or down our dorm or apartment hallways, the idea that the person is a potential shooter is in the back of our minds.

This should not be a reality.

The university utilizes A.L.I.C.E training, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Information, Counter and Evacuation. All six of the editors who participated in this editorial completed that training freshman year – some of us completed it virtually.

At least a year after that completed training, only two of those six editors remembered what A.L.I.C.E. stood for, because they completed the training in high school.

The university did not send a response acknowledging the Michigan State University shooting Feb. 13, or even a few days after.

On Feb. 24, we received this statement from university communication and marketing:

“Members of Kent State University are heartbroken for the lives lost and countless others affected by the shooting at Michigan State University. We offer our prayers and support to the Spartan community. This senseless violence brings to mind Kent State’s own tragic past of May 4, 1970. Kent State does not condone violence of any kind. We live by our core values, including respect, kindness and purpose in all we do.

Kent State has an accredited police department with officers who receive ongoing active shooter training. In addition, the university offers A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Information, Counter and Evacuation) Training, an active shooter training program, to its students, faculty and staff. At Kent State, all first-year students complete A.L.I.C.E. training as a requirement for the First-Year Experience (now called Flashes 101) course.”

While it is a nice statement, a response should have been sent to the student body prior to us asking.

This is not the first time the university has been slow to respond to a tense situation, such as the rumored threat of a potential shooter in March of last year.

The university needs to give all students and staff a modified school-shooter safety plan for the three main environments on campus: outdoor spaces, dorm rooms and academic buildings.

There is no lockdown possible when you are on the K, so what then? These are situations that can happen, but A.L.I.C.E. cannot cover specific situations that could occur on our campus. Our university and university police can. The university’s full emergency plan can be found in this packet.

Twice a year, students should go through an active shooter drill. One drill should be held in a campus building and the other in an outdoor space. We need to know how to remain safe in these environments.

These drills would give everyone a chance to see how they should respond in an actual emergency situation. After the drills, each person can assess how they reacted and plan for a possible situation. If we never have a chance to see the proper way to react in a drill, we won’t know how to respond in an actual emergency.

A.L.I.C.E. training and other information on active shooters should be in every class syllabus. Professors should be provided an active shooter plan to share with students for each classroom on campus, including how to evacuate, how to barricade and how to lock the doors.

We know that guns are the problem. The United States has more guns per capita than any other country in the world, and the U.S. experiences more mass shootings than any other country.

The state of Ohio is ranked eighth in gun ownership nationally. As young people, it is our lives that are put on the line by unchecked gun ownership. We call on the Ohio state legislature to implement strict background checks and a waiting period when purchasing a firearm.

We should not live in a country that doesn’t care about our lives. They say the younger generations are the future, but at this rate, we won’t have one.

We deserve to feel safe on our campuses and in our classrooms.

We don’t want your thoughts and prayers. We want action.

Call your state representatives

Vernon Sykes (D): (614) 466-7041

Gail K. Pavliga (R): (614) 466-2004

Sykes represents Ohio Senate District 28, Pavliga represents Ohio House District 72.

“Hello, my name is ____, and I am a student at Kent State University. I am calling today to talk about increasing gun safety ownership regulations in Ohio.

I believe there should be background checks and a waiting period for purchasing a gun. I feel implementing these regulations will keep Ohioans safer without harming our second amendment constitutional rights. As a college student, the recent uptick in school shootings is worrisome, especially with the close proximity to the recent shooting at Michigan State University.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Are there any questions you have for me?”

If you are leaving a voicemail, change the last paragraph to this:

“Thank you for your time and consideration. If there are any questions you have for me, you can contact me at (XXX) XXX-XXXX.”

Matthew Brown, Kaitlyn Finchler, Ty Kohler, Katherine Masko, Ashley McCormick, Isabella Schreck and Grace Springer contributed to this editorial. Contact the editorial team at [email protected].