In the journalism world, writing about a shooting — whether it be the very real, massive and tragic massacre in Las Vegas last Sunday or the campus shooter scare at USC last Monday — a week after it has occurred is old news.
But it shouldn’t be. The Las Vegas shooting, which killed 58 people, comes off the heels of the Orlando shooting at the Pulse nightclub, which killed 49 people, which came after the San Bernardino shooting, which killed 14 people. And that closely follows shootings at Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech. The list goes on and on.
Yet, as gun violence has become normalized — the Las Vegas shooting was the 273rd mass shooting, or incident involving multiple victims of firearm violence, in America in 2017 — the reaction on campus last week shows that the fear that gun violence instills, whether the threat is tangible or not, is more real and horrible than ever. During the shooting scare, the Daily Trojan reported that junior Remy Porsella said he heard screaming and saw hundreds of people running out the doors of Fertitta Hall. What he said was telling: “It was full panic.”
But as students reel from last week’s events — and chaotic national and world events in, for example, Las Vegas, Puerto Rico and North Korea — it is crucial that they turn fear into meaningful action. It is so easy to be consumed by the helplessness that follows a mass tragedy. It is much more courageous to channel our energy into productive action.
USC does not institute active shooter training, so we don’t know how to react to an active shooter situation, contributing to the mass panic of last Monday. That creates a compelling impetus for students to advocate for the administration to implement active shooter training. Campus buildings have periodic fire evacuation drills, and USC participates annually in The Great ShakeOut drill to prepare for a large-scale earthquake. Mass shootings on college campuses have occurred regularly enough to merit a similar kind of disaster preparedness.
On a larger scale, we can begin building the foundation for meaningful gun reform. Students with gun control-opposing representatives: It’s time to apply pressure. Call your representatives, post on social media, pitch to media organizations — so that we, collectively, keep gun control at the forefront of the public conscience. Most importantly, everyone needs to vote in local elections to ensure that reform can begin on the smallest scale and move upward.
It’s a time of crisis for progressive college students across America, whose formative years were shaped by the promises of hope and change made by former President Barack Obama. It feels so slow and so sad: Many of us thought the massacre of elementary-school children in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 had to spur substantial gun control legislation. But we are short-sighted; we fail to see that we are a small part of a much larger, much longer movement, and it is up to us to ensure its sustainability.
So now is not the time to give up. This is not just a test of our willpower. This is the test of our collective heart. If we can’t even begin to believe that we can do better, we will never improve the world we live in, and we will never make the necessary sacrifices to make our children’s world better than our own. Now is the time for tenacious, courageous leadership.
There are tens of thousands of students on this campus that care deeply about preventing gun violence and mass shootings. We are not going to be intimidated and rendered helpless on our own campus. The world may be spinning out of control, but there are some things that we can control. Let’s make our democracy work.
And let’s raise hell.
Sonali Seth is a senior majoring in policy, planning and development. She is also the special projects editor of the Daily Trojan. “Point/Counterpoint” runs Wednesdays.