By Andrew Smith
Exactly one year ago on, Feb. 14, 2018, the nation was forever changed as a shooter terrorized the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. During this horrific event, 17 lives were taken and another people 17 were injured. Of those killed, 14 were students 18 years old or younger and the other three were staff from the school who were trying to help students or stop the attacker.
Whenever there is a mass shooting, there is much more discussion around the country about school safety, gun rights and what can be done to prevent more mass shootings. On the anniversary of the Parkland shooting, Americans are asking themselves what has changed in a year. The Collegiate asked Grand Rapids Community College students what their take on this was.
Kaylyn McAlister, 23, of Grand Rapids, doesn’t think schools are any safer now because she hadn’t seen many ways schools were trying to make an impact over the course of the year.
“I would have to see some changes in security,” McAlister said. “If they had a metal detector, then they would have been able to find weapons.”
For the 2019 winter semester, GRCC invested over $1 million in security access for its campuses. The change included adding card access points to external doors and other important points of entry around the facilities. These doors can be locked by the college and made accessible only to those who have a card.
Another question that needs to be addressed is what else has to change in the future. Many students had ideas about what would be helpful to prevent more events like Parkland in the future.
Robert Stewart, 19, of Kent City, thinks that a mental health screening is a viable option to get firearms out of the hands of people that shouldn’t have them.
“It’s more of a person problem than a gun problem like everyone makes it out to be,” Stewart said. “There are good people out there that shouldn’t have to suffer from what a handful of people do.”
The Grand Rapids Community College is filled with people of all different walks of life with various points of view on life. Some of the students that were interviewed not only had different views but practically the opposite.
Kenzi Lamos, 20, of Kentwood, had some contrasting thoughts about guns and the use they have in mass killings.
“Nobody could have killed that many people in six minutes with anything but a gun,” Lamos said. “We need to make it harder for people to get their hands on guns because sometimes the shooter will use guns that aren’t even theirs.”
On Feb. 13, President Donald Trump stepped to the podium at the Major County Sheriffs and the Major Cities Chiefs Association Joint Conference. In his speech, he spoke about the Parkland shooting.
“We cannot imagine the sorrow and suffering the Parkland families have endured,” Trump Said. “Our entire nation mourns for the victims and their loved ones, and we pledge our unwavering resolve to work with the leaders in this room to secure our nation’s schools and everywhere else.”
Trump emphasized the steps his administration have taken to protect schools in the form of the Fix NICS Act and the STOP School Violence Act. Both of which are grants that can be given to schools and law enforcement to improve school safety.
From noon to 1:30 p.m. on March 18, 2019 the GRCC Library has organized an active shooter training that has been designed to teach students the basics in identifying potential threats, how to respond to active assailant situations, what are warning signs for potential attacks and how to give tips to law enforcement. This training will be taught by Lieutenant Robert Decker from the Grand Rapids Community College Police Department and Lina Blair, the director of student life and conduct.
Students are reminded that they should report anything they find to be suspicious on campus. Students should call campus police at their non-emergency number, (616) 234-4010, if the situation is not an emergency. For all emergencies, call 9-1-1.