Downtown shares reactions toward school shootings

Arizona State University's downtown campus from the top of the Sun Devils Fitness Center. (Nicole Neri/DD)
Arizona State University’s downtown campus from the top of the Sun Devils Fitness Center. (Nicole Neri/DD)

Amidst growing attention surrounding school shootings, downtown residents and students vary in opinions of school shootings in the United States.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 41,403 incidents of gun violence in 2019 across the United States. 

As of July 2019, 22 of these have been school shootings, CNN reported. 

To students like Britannie Slown, a junior studying criminology and a mother of two, seeing school shootings frequently on the news has caused underlying fears.

“It makes me feel insecure about showing up to school,” Slown said. “For college it is a little more of a real threat because we are an open campus.” 

Itzia Crespo, a sophomore studying journalism, cited a feeling of normality that came along with seeing school shootings across the news. 

“When I see it, there’s a weird mix of feeling desensitized plus the natural empathy that comes with it,” she said. 

Nathan Hawbaker, a downtown resident of two years and father of one, spoke of feeling relief each time he was made aware that the school attacked was not his child’s.

It might sound insensitive, but I think ‘glad it was not at my kid’s school’,” he said. “My secondary reaction is a feeling of anger towards the shooter.

Hawbaker expressed his frustrations at school’s attempts to plan for shootings rather than try to prevent them. He believes the current standard of facing a school shooter is logically flawed.

“Locking up the students in the classroom to keep them safe only helps if the active shooter is seen going onto the campus,” he said. “We need to move the focus to helping the troubled people with their mental health problem before it becomes an active shooter in schools.”

According to an ASU spokesperson, a student-produced active shooter preparedness video was released in November of 2018 as an addition to active shooter training across ASU.  

“The training emphasizes the ‘run, hide, fight’ concept,” the Spokesperson said. “ASU police encourage everyone to remain alert of their surroundings and notify supervisors, faculty, staff or law enforcement if they suspect a person may become a danger to themselves or others.”

Allison Lyne, a senior studying journalism, believes school shootings are a reason to call for changes to gun laws.

“It makes me sad to see it happen over and over again, but seemingly the government does nothing about it,” Lyne said. “In terms of change, I would want to eradicate the Second Amendment.” 

Not everyone in the community believes that guns are a problem. 

Rob Wilbanks, a salesman who has lived downtown for less than a year, said it isn’t guns that are causing the problem of school shootings.

“Guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” Wilbanks said.

He said he would rather see schools require more security and training for students and teachers alike to try to prevent these shootings from happening.

“I would like to see security systems put into schools, cameras in every class, and teachers armed,” Wilbanks said. 

Alicia Barròn, a Cronkite News Lab Digital Producer, would like to see mental health be addressed first to prevent school shootings before they happen. 

“For me my mind goes automatically to the stress and anxiety amongst the youth,” Barròn said. “Making people feel okay to begin with is important.” 

Jason Thornock, a security worker that has lived downtown for 20 years, would also like to see mental health addressed, specifically starting with parents.  

“It starts at home,” Thornock said. “Maybe parents can help at home before kids go and shoot at schools.”

The Arizona Department of Education made youth mental health first aid courses available to the public. Training courses can also be requested by schools in Arizona. 

Crespo said she hopes that new training and changes can help, but is doubtful that the government will make any changes.

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