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233. As of June 2, there have been 233 mass shootings in America during 2022, more than the number of days passed in the year. The most recent one making national headlines is a shooting in an Oklahoma hospital, followed by an elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that resulted in the death of 19 students and two teachers. The Texas shooting came only 10 days after a gunman killed 10 people in a Buffalo supermarket in a racist attack. Even after all this, U.S. senators simply offer their thoughts and prayers without considering any legislative action to reform gun policies, which is what we actually need. 

The first change to our current gun policy would be to require background checks for anyone wanting to purchase a gun. The Buffalo shooter had mentioned wanting to commit a murder-suicide as a part of his high school project, a statement he initially claimed was a joke but earned him a police and psychiatric evaluation. Despite all this, despite admitting his wish to murder people, he was able to legally purchase guns and carry out his plan. Mass shooters like these often show signs of their plans, be it through violent behavior or sketchy social media posts, all of which need to be evaluated before one is allowed to purchase a gun.

As a part of this background check process, gun owners’ needs to purchase a gun should also be verified, especially the kinds of guns that can cause mass shootings. AR-15s have been used in most of the recent mass shootings, a gun also used recreationally by many for hunting. Most states in the U.S. require one to have a hunting license from the state where the hunt occurs, a license that should be required while buying rifles in the first place. 

Similarly, there should be a general permit to buy any kind of gun like the permit required to purchase and own a pistol or handgun. These extra steps of verification may seem tedious, annoying and even unlawful to any gun enthusiast reading this editorial. But if you have nothing to hide and have a legitimate reason to own a gun, why should you worry, especially if it can prevent people from being murdered on a daily basis. 

Furthermore, we need to be more aware and proactive about potential threats on social media platforms. The Buffalo shooter posted updates on a Discord server visible to a small group of people, and also horrifically live-streamed his attack on Twitch. The Uvalde shooter also took to social media to gloat about his plans, showing a 15-year-old girl from Germany he met on Yubo his weapons and ammunition. He later told her he shot his grandmother and was about to “shoot up a elementary school.” In addition to his direct communication with this girl, he had also posted a picture of his rifles on his Instagram story, noted by his classmates but failed to be reported. 

However, according to a security strategy posted on the Uvalde school district’s website, the district had engaged in use of software that monitors social media to flag potential threats in the area. This monitoring software is called Social Sentinel, and is one of many services offered by the company Navigate360, which aims to promote safety by providing a variety of tools to law enforcement, schools, and businesses. 

Social Sentinel processes public social media activity and alerts school leaders when potential threats are flagged, but this program may not be completely reliable. Although the Uvalde shooter posted a photo of his guns, social media monitoring services may not flag a user sharing photos of firearms without publicly communicating threats of violence. Some who knew the Uvalde shooter had previously noticed warning signs which, when combined with his public posts, may have demonstrated context for concern, but monitoring software cannot account for the experience of an individual outside of their public internet presence. 

Although it can be scary, to say the least, to have to report your classmate, friend or relative, it could potentially prevent another tragic mass shooting. Social media and independent companies can monitor public activity, but software can fail which is why we as individuals need to be more vigilant and not let obvious signs like this go unreported. 

While significant changes to our current gun policy are necessary for preventing mass shootings, schools such as our own should also be investing in equipment and security staff to help keep students safe. As a University that is known to be constantly renovating and adding new infrastructure to our campus, allotting some of our funds to improving campus safety in the form of metal detectors at the doors, improved security, etc. is a step we should consider. 

NC State could also promote campus safety by implementing a school safety tip line. To ensure that students feel comfortable reporting shooting threats, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) suggests that schools establish an anonymous tip line dedicated to collecting information regarding school safety. Furthermore, the NIJ emphasizes the importance of a strategic response plan to address potential safety threats. Creating a safety tip line would ensure that individuals are knowledgeable and equipped to report threats of violence, which could prevent future school shootings.

We understand that many can feel helpless at this time when it seems like nothing is in our control and there is nothing we can do to prevent such tragedies from occurring. GoFundMe has compiled a list of verified fundraisers where you can donate to help those affected by the Uvalde and Buffalo shootings. You can also donate blood in your area as many North Carolina organizations are helping send blood to Texas and it is important to have units of blood on shelves for situations like this. 

Lastly, we encourage our readers to vote for leaders they think will make a difference and work towards gun reform, as that is the only long-term solution to prevent mass shootings from hurting our community again. 

This unsigned editorial is the opinion of Technician’s editorial board and is the responsibility of the editor-in-chief.

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