The recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, have rocked the nation, leaving communities mourning and reigniting bitter debates about gun legislation. In a polarized political environment in which both sides are entrenched in their respective camps, it can be difficult to know which policies will improve safety. This holds true for college campuses, where “campus carry” laws have sparked fierce arguments on how guns impact safety in college learning environments. In other states that have enacted campus carry laws, the evidence has been unclear on whether the law makes schools safer or more dangerous, begging the question of how we can keep our campus safe. However, there is a way to decrease overall gun violence and provide a safer campus that should avoid most of the partisan bickering of today’s world.
The University of Georgia should invest in mandatory programs to train students on how to react and respond to a violent shooter.
In previous shootings, unarmed civilians have been rather effective in helping law enforcement limit gun violence. In an FBI study of 160 shootings occurring between 2000-2013, unarmed civilians stopped the shooter 21 times. Excluding 90 instances when the shooting ended on the shooter’s initiative, this means that unarmed civilians played a key role in stopping the violence in 30% of cases, highlighting the role regular people can play in keeping their communities safe.
With proper training, UGA students can also learn to protect themselves and others if faced with a violent shooter. The university already invests in programs designed to inform us on how to stay safe. Incoming freshmen must take courses on safe drinking habits and ways to prevent sexual assault. And, in accordance with Georgia law, the university conducts periodic fire drills to ensure that students will know what to do if a fire breaks out. Similar programs could help in reducing the effects of gun violence.
As ABC News reports, experts say that, when threatened by a shooter, you should try to run, but, if you cannot escape, to hide or attack the shooter when an opportunity presents itself — for example, while the shooter is reloading. These strategies have the potential to save lives, but I suspect that many students have never had to learn about them.
Kendall Pratt, a first-year ecology major from Decatur, expressed support for the implementation of programs that would teach protocols for dealing with an active shooter.
“I think it could help,” Pratt said. “If something like that did happen, to know where to go and what to do. And even though in the moment that might leave your mind, just having that safety knowledge of having somewhere to go.”
So, while the debate over gun control continues to rage on in Congress, I am calling on UGA to implement programs that will teach students to deal with active shooters. Doing so could save lives and ensure that campus remains a safe haven.