Recent mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand has caused significant concern across the nation. On March 15, a man shot fire inside Al Noor Mosque at 1:30 p.m. The atrocity was live streamed on social media by the shooter for approximately 17 minutes, which quickly spread among the internet. A second shooting took place shortly after the live stream ended at Linwood Mosque where at least seven people were killed, leading to a total of 50 people killed and 50 others wounded.
President Freeman Hrabowski addressed the event in an email sent to the UMBC community. “Our hearts are with the victims, their families, the first responders who rushed to their aid, the people of Christchurch and New Zealand, and all those who have been affected by this senseless act … We in America are sadly all too familiar with escalating violence and hate targeting community spaces including mosques, synagogues, churches, schools and campuses,” Hrabowski writes. UMBC prides itself on its diversity and inclusion, both in and outside of the classroom, having many student organizations that recognize various religions, ethnic identities and sexual orientations. Moreover, 48% of freshmen student enrollment at UMBC are people of color.
Currently, the state of Maryland operates on a “May Issue” policy to determine who may obtain a gun permit. One must provide reasonable cause to the state, where the state determines whether they qualify for the permit or not. Permit holders are required to be fingerprinted and to pass a training class. Additionally, people deemed mentally ill, or who have been in a mental health facility, are exempt from obtaining a gun permit.
Maryland state law gives the University System of Maryland the leeway of enforcing their own gun policies on campus. All schools within the USM have banned concealed carry firearms. The system also requires that each campus have an emergency preparedness plan in the event of a shooting. The plan is developed by a campus committee who meets regularly to update the plan and address new types of threats. One of the more infamous shooting incidents in the USM was a murder-suicide that occurred back in 2013 by a University of Maryland, College Park graduate student.
As shootings become more prevalent in western culture, it raises questions of where to go from here. “We must answer all hate crimes with a renewed commitment to advancing social justice, deepening our resolve to understand diverse experiences and honoring the benefits such differences bring to our community and to humanity,” President Hrabowski said. Students with additional concerns or needs for reconciliation should contact The Interfaith Center at 410-455-3657; the Counseling Center can be reached at 410-455-2472.