On April 30, the last day of classes at UNC-Charlotte, a shooter opened fire. Within the hour, the entire nation was focused on a university filled with friends, relatives and students similar to us, who all were in danger. The result was two murdered students and four injured.
As of now, the nation and the news cycle have already moved on to more recent issues, but the fear of what happened at UNCC still lingers. The murder of innocent students forces us to assess the aftermath of the situation, to wonder if what happened to a university in Charlotte could happen to this university in Raleigh and ask the question of what is being done to prevent similar tragedies.
At the UNCC shooting, there were more heroes than villains. Police were able to capture the shooter before he could leave the first classroom, and EMTs saved the lives of four injured students. The shooting lasted only a few minutes, but for one student, that was all it took to define a legacy.
In a moment of crisis, Riley Howell tackled the shooter. He has been labeled as the undisputable hero that he is.
Howell is undoubtedly a hero, but he never should have been put in such a position where his heroic actions were necessary. America celebrates heroes where it wants to see more heroes; police and EMTs who responded quickly to minimize the effect of the shooting; firefighters and first responders who dive headfirst into dangerous situations every day. These people’s jobs put their lives in danger for the sake of others. A school, however, should not become a place where heroes must risk their lives for their fellow students. Howell’s heroism cannot become the standard. Students go to school to learn, not to lay down their lives.
The question of what to do in a mass shooting environment is one that is all too common in this nation, and especially on North Carolina college campuses, which have a troubled history with gun violence. Recently on NC State’s own campus, three firearms and ammunition were seized from a student’s vehicle, and less than two weeks later a perceived shooting threat on social media was reported to campus police.
As far as prevention, there is little difference between the UNCC gun policy and NC State’s, meaning there was nothing but circumstance stopping these incidents from becoming carbon copies of the UNCC tragedy. Any policy to prevent mass murder on college campuses has to come from the state or federal level, meaning right now, in the wake of this event, our state representatives need to be working on legislation.
However, that seems to not be the case. Tim Moore, the speaker of the N.C. House of Representatives, has tweetedfour times about the shooting since April 30. The first two tweets focused on prayers, and the last two focused on Howell. No tweet nor post on his website included any gun-related legislation being discussed or proposed.
Similarly disappointing are North Carolina’s senators. Senator Burr published one tweet on the day of the event, calling it “awful news.” Senator Tillis called it “horrific news” in his own tweet. In another tweet, Tillis mentioned Howell’s heroism and linked a video of himself holding a moment of silence in the Senate chamber in a third. Yet still, no legislation has been mentioned.
When politicians who have the power to prevent heroes like Howell from becoming necessary neglect to take action and instead only talk about their sacrifices, they tarnish these heroes’ legacy. They gloss over the loss of Ellis Parlier, 19, the only other student to die, and leave open the opportunity for a repeat of this event.
The dialogue that should be happening after a mass shooting which made national headlines is being neglected by those in power. Stricter gun policies need to be implemented, but at the very least, those who govern us — whose fundamental job it is to provide a safe society — should be discussing the next steps after such a large tragedy. As it stands, a few tweets about thoughts and prayers will not keep the students and residents of North Carolina safe.
This unsigned editorial is the opinion of the members of Technician’s editorial board, and is the responsibility of the editor-in-chief.