By Sandy Mui
Published: March 28th, 2018
We are only in March, but school shootings have dominated headlines in 2018. Last week only added to America’s troubles of gun violence in schools, when 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey, from Great Mills High School in Maryland, became the victim of yet another school shooting.
In more local news, a 15-year-old student was caught bringing a loaded gun into Midwood High School on Tuesday, March 20th. That’s right, Midwood High School. Right across the street from Brooklyn College. If hearing about that troubles you —you’re not alone.
Luckily, police officers quickly intervened before anything tragic could happen—before Midwood could become another number on an ever-growing list of school shootings in 2018. But, for once, we see a near-fatal event that hits so close to home for Brooklyn College students.
After a mass shooting takes place, “our thoughts and prayers” is one of the most common phrases we hear, usually from a politician or another public figure who is expressing his/her condolences towards the victims’ families. Another common phrase, usually expressed by a member of the community impacted by the shooting, is: “We never thought this could happen in our community.”
For most of my life—until the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, really—I would have said the same thing about New York City. (I say Sandy Hook because that was one of the earliest and deadliest school shootings I could process and understand at an old-enough age.) Unfortunately, since then, school shootings have only become a greater problem in American society—so much that they could almost be considered a part of American culture, and it’s not even surprising anymore to see another school shooting on the news.
Of course, the “we never thought this could happen in our community” thought mainly comes from people who live in small cities or towns. Hence, their beliefs stem from the fact that nothing of much prominence ever happens where they live. New York City, with its constant hustle and bustle, is far from quiet.
However, my prior notion of safety and security in my city—and my school—comes from the fact that fortunately, it is much harder to obtain a gun in New York than in, let’s say, a state like Georgia. In order for someone to purchase a gun in New York, they must have a handgun license or rifle/shotgun permit. Also included in the application process are a host of documents that must be submitted and an interview where you have to plead your case for why you need a gun. New York, from that perspective, is far safer than many other states in the country where shootings happen more frequently.
When looking at a list of school shootings in the United States, there are quite a lot that occurred in New York dating back to as early as 1867, but none with a significant number of casualties. Two of them occurred in the 21st century — neither that you would probably know by memory — at Martin Luther King, Jr. High School (2002 — zero deaths, two injured students) and Columbia High School (2004 — zero deaths, one injured teacher).
Even with little to no school shootings in New York representing the “infamous” ones in modern United States history, that isn’t to say that schools in New York are entirely safe from the threat of students sneaking in a gun. And BC, with its openness to outsiders, does not exactly present itself as a school that is immune to that danger.
The fact of the matter is, BC, like many other CUNY’s, is an open campus. There’s the occasional ID check—which seems more like a ploy for BC security to exert its little authority on campus—but is that really going to prevent a potential shooter from bringing a gun onto campus? Every time I see news about yet another school shooting, my mind pictures a gunman easily forcing his way onto campus and engaging in a shooting spree, leaving bodies sprawled on the ground and cutting the lives of “the future of America” far too short.
Every time I read the stories of school shooting victims, my first thought is: “That could be me any day now.” In fact, it could be any of us. It’s a scary thought to have to cope with when as students, we’re only trying to go to school to get an education – not potentially take our last breaths.
I live in fear that I’m going to be the next school shooting victim, and I shouldn’t have to. Getting an education shouldn’t come at the cost of my life.