By The Tower Staff
A 19-year-old high school student walked onto his school’s campus last Wednesday afternoon. He carried a black duffel bag loaded with an assault rifle, ammunition, and a vest, and he proceeded to shoot people in several classrooms. The tragic school shooting that left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida has ignited fierce national debate on the topics of gun control, school safety, and the best practices to protect students during these painfully common occurrences. The clamor for policy change has seldom felt more intense, conversations from both sides of the aisle have proposed a number of perceived solutions, and fellow students of the high school have used their voices in the dialogue in a greater degree than any preceding incident.
The rampage has undoubtedly caused some at Catholic to wonder— how would things go down if something like that happened here? Does the community feel protected? Is DPS adequately prepared for an event like it? Can students protect themselves? Students in years past have wrestled with these questions, with some even trying to amend university policy. But the option of students having their own weapons, in the form of concealed carry on campus, is not a viable one. Current university policy prohibits “any gun, rifle, pistol, or handgun designed to fire bullets, BBs, pellets, or shots…” The protection, then, comes from the Department of Public Safety and its coordination with the DC Metropolitan Police Department during times of danger. In 2015, the policy was voted to be amended to allow registered guns on campus, an initiative co-sponsored by one SGA representative who grew up 15 minutes from the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. The motive was one of self-defense— to be individually prepared during events like the three campus lockdowns in the last 2 years when a potentially-armed suspects were on or just off-campus. The administration objected, citing a number of reasons, including the full confidence in the campus police force.
There is no reason to lack faith in the current protection system in place with DPS and the MPD’s aid, as they have kept students safe in all of the recent threats, but the potential for danger remains. Just last week, an 18-year old high school student in Montgomery County, Maryland was arrested for bringing a loaded gun into school, and police later found an AR-15 and other pistols in his home. This past Sunday at around 11 AM, a man was shot on Monroe Street right by the CUA-Brookland Metro stop. Needless to say, this stuff is very close to home. If there is a form of self-protection students can employ, it’s a need to be very self-aware whenever things don’t feel right.