Eric Stubben is a mechanical engineering junior and Mustang News conservative columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
The last time I left Marysville-Pilchuck High School, I was on the heels of a 9-2 blowout loss on the baseball diamond. My cleats dragged across left field — still soaked from the drizzle we played through — as I tried my best to keep my chin up on the long walk back to the school bus.
Had I known that same recreation field would be used as an escape route from a cafeteria shooting only a few years later, my mentality certainly would’ve been different.
When my Twitter feed began to blow up last Friday morning, most of the tweets included some variation of “My thoughts and prayers are with Marysville-Pilchuck High School,” give or take a few hashtags.
At first, all that ran through my mind was fairly simple: “What the hell … What is going on?”
A click of the TV remote and a few channels later, my questions began to find answers. I was shocked, to say the least. Fewer than three years ago, I was roaming the same right field now shown all over national news. Students were running out of the same gym that I’d played (more correctly, rode the bench) so many basketball games in.
As if looking at students grasping their parents after fleeing the school — most seemingly either in shock or tears — wasn’t enough, the reality of the situation was. Students wearing heavy coats covered with their Russell Wilson jerseys and donning warm hats as the Northwest weather turns toward winter was all too surreal.
Just three years ago, that could have been me.
Marysville-Pilchuck High School sits 34 miles from Burlington, Washington, my hometown. Those 34 miles pass rather quickly on the drive down I-5. That’s why this shooting hit me so much harder than all the others. The Sandy Hook and UCSB shootings were tragic and disgusting, but Sandy Hook was across the country and I’ve never done more than put gas in my car in Santa Barbara. I felt like I couldn’t relate.
I’ve wanted to write an article about school shootings for quite awhile, but until now the timing never felt right. In fact, it still doesn’t feel quite right combining a tragedy into a political issue, but nonetheless they still intertwine.
When the National Rifle Association (NRA) put in its two cents on school shootings last year, I thought they had some merit, but I wasn’t totally convinced. The recommendation to put armed guards at every school in America seemed daunting at first, but the more I thought about it, the more realistic it became. Many schools already have armed guards, and their cost must be weighed against their effectiveness. The purpose of an armed guard is not to stop a shooter in the act of shooting, but to make the shooter think twice about the actions they are about to take.
Put it all in perspective. We put security guards in courthouses, sporting events, college campuses and shopping malls. At no point do we fully expect one of these guards to stop an active shooter in his tracks, but we expect them to minimize potential damage during a crisis. Putting security guards on school campuses is a logical solution to create safe learning environments for students.
The other suggestion from the NRA involved training and arming all teachers to prevent shootings. Would this be an effective way to stop a shooting in a classroom? Yes.
Is it a good idea to arm all teachers and create a whirlwind of problems within the education system? No.
I’ve always been a strong supporter of “good guys having guns,” but the thought of many teachers or professors wielding weapons is downright ridiculous.
Of course, many others chime in with the actual “gun restriction” argument. “We need to ban high capacity weapons … Longer wait periods … More background checks … Ban all guns!” Let’s be honest, we’ve heard it all when it comes to guns. Some of these suggestions may certainly have merit. Many, including myself, agree that background checks are necessary. And if you’re curious about how weapons are traced, it’s just as simple as entering the serial number into a database, right? Well, no. Gun records are still stored and traced by hand in a small building in Martinsburg, West Virginia. And if you’re curious where that is, go ahead and Google it; I don’t know either.
Cutting to the chase, the reality is that good, law-abiding citizens (as most Americans are) deserve to have their guns and deserve to have their choice of guns without restriction. Similarly, a “bad guy” who wants to commit a horrific crime will find a way to get himself (or herself) a gun.
In the Marysville-Pilchuck shooting, though, everything seemed to be backward on the surface. The shooter (whose name is irrelevant) was his class’ homecoming prince, seemingly well-liked and not bullied. Who would’ve thought he’d grab his dad’s gun and pull the trigger? A simple scroll through his Twitter account shows obvious angst dating back to June, but once again, society ignored the signs. He went to a school with more than $3 million in mental health grants, yet nobody thought to have him seek help.
Maybe these school shootings come down to what happens at home. Maybe one word could have set these shooters free, able to move past their grief. Maybe we’ll never understand why these school shootings happen. But it’s important we finally engage in productive dialogue over these situations. How can Americans make a difference? Can we make counseling more available? Is it something in our culture? The issue is pressing and we need resolve now.
Until we find a solution, however, my thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the Marysville-Pilchuck shooting. I wish only for the best and for true progress in stopping these horrific events from happening in the future.
Eric…you glossed over one small word in your editorial….society. No, Society did not ignore the obvious distress (expressed in social media) of this young killer. His friends and anyone else who read his disturbing posts, ignored his situation. Until we all take responsibility for responding when someone is posting obviously inappropriate remarks, these things will sometimes happen. I’m not saying that there are always obvious signs that someone is going to start shooting at their school, but there frequently are. Oh, and lock up your guns.
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