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School shootings have become the new normal

On October 3, 2023, a shooting broke out during a homecoming football game at Morgan State University, only a 30-minute drive from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Five people were injured. Two days later, another shooting occurred 36 miles south at Bowie State University during the university’s homecoming weekend and resulted in two injuries. 

Although these tragedies are close to home, they are not isolated incidents.

On August 28, a University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill graduate student shot and killed his associate professor on campus, leaving Chapel Hill students shaken and forcing the public school students in the area to go into lockdown on their first day of school.

Earlier this year, on April 24, one person was fatally shot at Rose State University in Oklahoma. Two months prior on February 13, a mass shooter murdered three Michigan State University students and critically wounded five others. Last November, a University of Virginia football player fatally shot three of his teammates and critically injured two others. 

At the time of this reporting, an estimated 59 school shootings have taken place in the United States just this year. Twenty of these shootings happened on college campuses.

According to an analysis by The Washington Post, these shootings are only a fraction of the 389 total gun violence events that have taken place in the United States since the 1999 Columbine massacre. 

The tragedy at Columbine High School sent waves across the entire nation and heavily influenced police response protocols. However, it seems as though news about the most recent shooting is par for the course. 

When asked about her reaction to the nearby campus shootings, a sophomore at UMBC, Jane Semmelmeyer, says that she was, “sad but unsurprised.”

Jane says that, “My high school had shooter drills every month and shootings happen all the time. At this point, these things are just kind of expected.” 

And it seems as though she is right. According to CNN, 95% of public school students undergo drills in preparation for school shootings.

As mass shootings become increasingly frequent, it is becoming strikingly apparent that school shootings and mass gun violence events in general have turned into a normal aspect of American life. The latest shooting becomes a hot topic for a few days until another replaces it.

And perhaps that is the gravest calamity of all; this desensitized acceptance of gun violence that we have slowly developed as we continue to live in a country where so many individuals still support the “right to bear arms.”

Currently, the United States stance regarding this right is rooted in the Second Amendment, which was written by the Founding Fathers in order to ensure that their new nation had a “well-regulated Militia.”

In the 21st-century, Americans over 18 are still legally permitted to purchase and use most firearms as long as they obtain the proper licenses. In spite of the frequency and severity of topical events, Congress’s attempts to pass legislation regarding stricter gun laws have almost always failed in garnering necessary support.

Moreover, although states like Delaware and Illinois have begun to take matters into their own hands and impose statewide bans on gun sale and possession, these laws are in danger of being overridden by the Supreme Court. 

In our present climate, it seems that Americans are left with little choice but to engage in activism regarding gun control, exercise their right to vote for leaders that will fight for appropriate measures and above all, hope that the places they visit or reside within have taken enough safety precautions to protect them. 

According to UMBC Chief of Police, Bruce Perry, campus police are developing such safety precautions.

In addition to developing a comprehensive safety plan to protect students during UMBC’s homecoming events, Officer Perry asserted that they have increased patrols across campus in response to recent incidents.

“The safety of the UMBC community is our highest priority, and we work diligently to keep our community safe and secure,” he said in a statement.

However, this doesn’t necessarily put students at ease. Diane Esteban, a sophomore at UMBC, admits that, “after seeing all the recent shootings at colleges nearby, I’m on edge and don’t feel perfectly safe on campus.” 

This lack of faith in campus security is likely for good reason. Although UMBC’s Residential Student Association employees are mandated to attend shooting precautionary training and the school enforces the Maryland assault weapon ban and prohibits weapons on its campus, it may not amount to much in a dire situation. 

In the wake of increased safety preparations and readiness surrounding gun violence across the nation, the rate of America’s mass shootings show no sign of slowing down.

“I think UMBC takes lots of precautions to maintain a safe environment, but at the end of the day, I don’t think there is really any way for us to prevent a school shooting,” says RSA member and Junior at UMBC, Grace Briglia.

Grace says, “If someone has access to a gun and wants to shoot people, they will.” 

As disheartening as these sentiments are, as long as legislators continue to fail in their attempts to implement significant gun control laws, it is likely not going to improve. In the face of repeated tragedies, it seems that in contemporary America, our primary method of self-preservation is chafing down to pure luck.

Anushka Shah is a Freshman Global Studies and Political Science and Probationary Writer for News.

Contact Anushka at