“Run, hide, fight” should never be a message that students have to receive while at school. Active shooter drills should not be something our students have to practice. We can no longer allow our gun laws to be influenced by lobbyists. These people literally benefit from the continued leniency with which we govern the possession of firearms in this country. We deserve better. Our children deserve better.
It is absolutely despicable that elected officials value the NRA’s blood money more than they value the lives of their constituents. In fact, North Carolina Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis both rank among the top five recipients of NRA contributions in the Senate.
These were real people. They had lives, families, friends. They were students just like us. And they were taken from us far too soon, on their last day of classes — right before finals. So close to celebrating the end of something they have spent the past several months working toward.
This shooting took place at a campus that isn’t plagued by racial tensions and white supremacy. At a place like UNC, where non-students are allowed to tote arms in faux authority against the law and white supremacists can speak openly about harassing students, the likelihood feels so much greater. After this shooting, we feel like sitting ducks on the grounds of our own University.
One of the victims, thankfully now out of surgery, was Drew Pescaro, a sports writer for their campus newspaper. For the Board, it’s hard not to picture any one of our own at The Daily Tar Heel. And despite a writer being in critical condition, the Niner Times staff reported on the shooting on their last day of class through their smartphones. Their strength and bravery should set an example for all student newsrooms.
Gun violence forms an inexplicable link between people of our generation. It might be student journalists like you in surgery for bullet wounds, it might be college students from your hometown, it might be you watching, horrified, as your classmate’s presentation is interrupted by gunshots. This a bond we don’t want to have, nor is it one we deserve.
Mass shootings are absolutely terrifying to think about. But we have to, because gun violence is what will define our generation for years and years to come. It’s on us to act, to speak out and to make change happen on behalf of those who can’t. Those who never deserved to die. We cannot and will not let their deaths be in vain.
No matter how often this has and will continue to happen, we cannot allow ourselves to become desensitized. These aren’t the first victims of gun violence, and they most certainly won’t be the last. These victims deserve every bit as much passion, anger and attention as we gave to those who came before them. They and their families deserve justice too.
Fight for them. Remember them.
Drew Pescaro. Sean DeHart. Rami Alramadhan. Emily Houpt.
Ellis Parlier. Riley Howell. We grieve for you and will not allow your deaths to be in vain.