On the day that President Obama visits Roseburg, Oregon to speak with survivors and families affected by last week’s mass shooting at Umpqua Community College, two more school shootings have been reported on Friday: one at Northern Arizona University, and the other at Texas Southern University. In all, six people are reported to have been shot, and two have died. Neither incident appears related to terrorism or a premediated rampage.
Early this morning, a confrontation involving two groups of students at NAU became violent, and one student, 18-year-old freshman Steven Jones, produced a handgun and shot four members of the Delta Chi fraternity. One has died and the others are being treated at a local hospital. The shooting had stopped when police arrived, and the shooter was taken into custody. The source of the conflict has not been determined.
Later that day, while the students in Arizona were still reeling from the tragic events that had transpired, another shooting was reported at a housing complex at Texas Southern University in Houston. Hundreds of students were evacuated from the area and the campus was placed under lockdown. The details of this incident are still not known, although it is reported that two people were shot, one fatally, and a suspect has been taken into custody.
Following the massacre in Oregon last week, President Obama lamented the fact that “somehow this has become routine.” For the students at Texas Southern University and elsewhere, Obama’s statement is all too accurate. Friday’s shooting is the third to take place at the school in two months, and the second one this week. One victim was shot on Tuesday on the campus’s main walk; and in late August, two others were shot when a man opened fire at the very same apartment complex where today’s shooting transpired.
The Delta Chi fraternity at NAU has also been affected by gun violence in the past. In 2011, the fraternity house was attacked in a drive-by shooting, in which, fortunately, there were no injuries.
In 2009, Texas Southern University also experienced a drive-by shooting, where eight people were wounded at an event billed as a “family block party.”
These events leave the students at Texas Southern fearing for their safety as they try to earn an education and pursue the American dream. “I’m really kind of questioning why I go to this school,” said one student after Tuesday’s shooting. Another said she felt “kind of uneasy when I’ve come from a city of violence ongoing and I come to college and it’s still going on. So you have to really be careful.” What good are all the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans if students can’t go to school without worrying whether there will be a shooting at their apartment when they return home?
We cannot allow these shootings to become routine – they must be recognized for the tragic events that they are, and not simply a fact of life or “stuff that happens.” The fact that the United States is the only developed country to witness these tragedies on such a regular basis shows that they are not inevitable. With sensible gun reform, we can help prevent such terrible events.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.