Gun violence examined

What happens if an active shooter incident happens here?

Amber Brockman, Assistant News Editor

The United States accounts for 80% of all gun deaths in the world, making up more than 30,000 people killed with guns each year, according to Amnesty International, a nongovernmental organization focused on human rights.

University Police defines an active shooter as a person who is using a firearm or other weapon with the intent to injure or kill others.

“The United States is the only country that experiences mass shootings at this level,” State Assembly Democratic Leader Gordon Hintz said in a press release. “It’s not even close.”

Hintz said the public expects the government to make an effort to minimize gun violence.

“People should feel safe in their communities, and yet the vast majority of Wisconsinites are currently represented by politicians who won’t even discuss the most basic steps that can be taken to protect the public and prevent these terrifying acts of violence,” Hintz said.

Due to recent instances of gun violence, UWO Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Michael Lenza said there isn’t any valid reason for civilians to have access to the military-grade weapons that are often involved in shootings.

“You’re not going to go shoot a deer with something like that,” Lenza said. “It’s not a hunting weapon; it’s used to kill people.”

Since an active shooter incident can occur under a variety of circumstances, the UP said there is no one set of guidelines able to cover specific actions to take in each situation.

Among the list of guidelines the UP described, if you’re unable to escape the building, find a room that can be locked and notify as many people as possible so they can seek safety.

Once in a safe space, lock all doors and windows and turn off all the lights before calling 911, if safe to do so.

If the shooter enters the room and an escape is not possible, attempt to overpower them with force or an improvised weapon.

Despite procedures in place, UWO student Jessica Bock said the school is not doing enough to prepare students for the possibility of an active shooter.

“I know in high schools they have practice drills and things like that, but in the four years that I’ve been here, there’s never been a practice drill, there’s never been a teacher that has said, ‘This is what you’re supposed to do, this is where you’re supposed to go,’” Bock said. “It’s kind of scary.”

Last November, Bock said that due to the untimeliness of alerts sent out by the school, she nearly encountered an armed robber who targeted a campus ATM outside Reeve Memorial Union.

“The reports didn’t come out fast enough; I was right there when it was happening and had no idea,” Bock said. “I know they said there wasn’t a threat, but there was still a person doing illegal activity with a gun, so they should have at least closed campus until they figured out what was going on.”

Bock said she feels the only way to protect herself is to own a gun of her own, though she’s never been comfortable around them and understands the risks that comes with it.

“There’s no reason I should have something so dangerous just so I can feel safe,” Bock said.

Bock said it’s important for people to address these issues and thinks UWO could be doing more to make students feel prepared if a situation should arise.

“We need to have the administration know that it was a really big issue that happened last year and even though nothing really came from it, they need to realize that none of the teachers are talking about it, nobody knows the policies and nobody really knows what to do if something were to happen,” Bock said. “That’s a really dangerous situation to put us in.”

Lenza said the best way to prevent gun violence is to vote for someone who will make a change.

“Be aware and think critically about who the candidate is and what their policies are,” Lenza said. “Holding our politicians and government accountable is the best defense you have in a democracy.”