Florida shooting stirs gun debate on campus

University releases safety protocol information amidst nationwide crisis

Rebecca Lorenzo, Staff Writer

Heavy debate has circulated nationwide regarding gun control, safety procedures in schools and the arming of highly-trained teachers and staff following the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

On February 14, now 18-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle, killing 14 students and three teachers. The tragedy is the sixth school shooting resulting in injuries in the past year, and is the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting where 20 children and 16 teachers were killed, according to Time Magazine.

President Donald Trump has called for a comprehensive legislation to expand background checks to firearms purchased at gun shows and on the internet, implanting measures to prevent gun purchase by mentally ill people, securing schools and restricting gun sales for some young adults, Time reports. Trump has also said there is likely a relationship between violent video games and mass shootings, and plans to meet with industry representatives regarding the issue, according to Yahoo.

Some William Paterson staff and students believe in tighter gun control policies.

“For one thing, no one needs an assault rifle whatsoever,” he said. “Like Chris Rock said, no one is going to kill 100 people with a knife.”

“We should get rid of the people-killers like the assault weapons with the express purpose of killing…specifically [inputting] background checks, checking into people, not allowing felons or people on the FBI watch list to have guns,” said student Zach Thomas.

Others oppose stricter gun laws.

“You can’t just say stricter gun laws because people will still have advantage to them,” said student Arbi Barpi. “People just need help.”

“I don’t think it’s a gun issue, it’s a race issue,” said student Brenda Sanchez. “When something happens with [minorities] it’s an issue, but if someone’s a certain skin color it’s fine, he has a mental health issue.”

Trump has been open with his support of the National Rifle Association (NRA) proposal to arm highly-trained teachers with firearms, according to the New York Times. Texas, Missouri and Ohio are a few states that allow districts to stock guns within policies.

“The idea that teachers be asked to carry guns is deeply misguided and reckless,” said Sean Molloy, Assistant Professor of the English department.

“I think that [arming teachers] would only make the place much more unsafe and I certainly would never want to carry arms myself,” said Martha Witt, Associate Professor in the English dept.

A rep for William Paterson could not be reached for comment, but the school has since emailed safety precautions and protocol for an active shooting situation.

Staff and students are instructed to locate emergency exits, lock and blockade doors, turnout lights, hide in closets or enclosed areas, remain quiet and silence cell phones, inform police of the situation, check in with others via cell phone and look for University updates through the message alert system, and leave the building if possible. In the worst possible scenario, they should fight back against the shooter.

In September 2014, the University responded to a threat from University student William Geary, who was arrested for allegedly threatening to stage a shooting on an unnamed campus on the live chat app YikYak, according to The Patch. William Paterson sent out digital alerts to students, but did not put the school on lock down as they ruled out any imminent threats, according to the report.

Currently, online information on emergency protocol, emergency buttons across campus and digital alerts are provided. Still, some students believe more should be done to prepare staff and students.

Student Ralph Hall said William Paterson should be “more pushy” on a plan by hosting a mandatory event to provide information.

“I think they would do something like that if something happened nearby or unexpected on campus,” he said. “Unfortunately, that would be when people make a move the most… after it’s too late.”

For more information on campus security and emergency protocol, visit the campus police page.

Campus police urges staff and students to report any suspicious potentially violent behavior.