Staying Safe and Making Change: MC Talks Gun Safety

by Gabriella DePinho, News Editor

As Manhattan College students’ summers were winding down, three mass shootings occurred in one week, reigniting repeated conversations about gun control and safety laws, the looming threat of violence and what people would do if they ever found themselves in that position.

Such conversations and media coverage have started to dwindle as time has passed but the ideas those conversations start are pertinent to the start of the school year. The college’s Public Safety website has a page titled “Active Shooter” with resources from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the City of Houston Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.

The nearly six minute video produced by the City of Houston details a “Run, Hide, Fight” plan that people should follow in an instance of an active shooter.

“It was so well done that a lot of cities and schools in the country are using that video,” said Peter DeCaro, the director of Public Safety. “In addition to that, we have the NYPD counterterrorism come in every fall.”

In the event of an active shooter, the college’s primary way of communicating with the student body is the e2campus emergency notification system. There is also a public address system of stadium style speakers that, if used, will be heard around campus and on the street surrounding campus.

“You guys are used to hearing it for snow closing or a delay but that’s going to be our primary way of letting you guys know that something bad has happened around here. Certain administrators at the college, including administrators in public safety, can launch that system, God forbid we have a situation like that on campus,” said DeCaro.

Students who feel threatened or uncomfortable by any kind of comments, online postings or behaviours by a student or school employee are encouraged to report it to public safety.

“When we get cases like that, we start investigating internally and then we also contact the police right away and have them start investigating it on their end. They do so much of that nowadays, they’re so good at. They can go into someone’s background and social media and information very quickly and effectively,” said DeCaro.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, NY state’s ‘red flag’ law went into effect. The law will ensure that certain authorities will be able to seek the temporary removal of firearms from individuals who pose a threat to themselves or the public, even if they have not been arrested yet. There is no way to guarantee that red flag laws make a difference, but as far as gun control legislation being accepted by the public, these laws are certainly a start.

The National Rifle Association is often what gets in the way of the law by lobbying and by giving money to politicians to influence their legislative decisions. The NRA started out as an educational organization that taught gun safety and gave certifications to those who had completed safety courses. Over time, the NRA’s focus shifted to the second amendment.

“Power comes from both money and access and the National Rifle Association has both,” said political science professor, Pamela Chasek, Ph.D.

For students who want to see more gun controls passed throughout the country, there is plenty of legwork to be done.

“What can I do if elected officials share my concerns? Well, you still let them know that this is an important issue to you. You want them to speak out, you don’t want them to hide. What some people will do, they will actually go and help build up the ranks of someone organizing stuff for gun legislation in somewhere where there are republican members of congress and aren’t likely to vote for the legislation,” said Chasek.

Both Chasek and DeCaro encouraged students to keep the simple but effective motto “if you see something, say something” in mind and to always stay alert.

“It could happen on the subway, it could be anywhere and no legislation would necessarily stop that. The only thing you can tell people is to be aware of your surroundings,” said Chasek.