A Burgett Intercultural Center event last Wednesday gave students a space to share their thoughts about the Florida school shooting that claimed 17 on Valentine’s Day.
“It’s a scary time for any student at any level, and it’s good to talk in a diverse environment, not just an echo chamber of people who all share the same views,” said Nathan Tosh, a graduate student and the center’s assistant director.
Each of the few attendees had a reason that brought them there.
“As a parent, I have kids I send off to school, and I hope they’re safe,” said Jessica Guzman-Rea, the center’s director, as she explained what prompted her to plan the event.
Though the event was not intended to be political, attendees felt they could not discuss gun violence without addressing the political aspect of the issue. There was consensus that the Second Amendment needed to be grappled with in light of high-profile acts of gun violence.
“It literally is an amendment, so literally it means that it was created as a change because of circumstance. Yet there hadn’t been any updates since then, and there should be,” junior John Cole said.
Some brought up that guns are used for hunting, sport, and sometimes survival. Other times, guns are not used for survival, but rather ambiguous reasons. Attendees were alarmed by the prevalence of guns in their homes, schools, and streets.
“Even my grandmother, when my parents were cleaning out her things, they found a little gun in her purse,” Guzman-Rea said. “She had a tiny little cute gun that my kids could have just found when we were visiting.”
For Tosh, who comes from Florida, guns were in schools, too.
“I know multiple students were expelled because they brought a hunting rifle with them to school,” Tosh said.
Crediting gun violence to mental illness raised apprehensions among attendees about marginalizing people.
“First of all, that’s discriminating against people with actual mental health issues, and second of all, it’s inherently racist because it’s saying that white people are not capable of just being bad,” Cole said. “People have the capability of being bad.”
Due to the importance of the issue and the relatively low attendance for the gathering, the Intercultural Center is planning a second event later this week at a more convenient time for students and professors to attend.