Brust: We need to approach school shootings like philosophers, not politicians

Allec Brust

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board. 

Instead of asking what to do after school shootings, let’s ask first why it happened in the first place.

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When I was 16 years old, I vividly remember the familiar ‘lock down alarm’ ringing through the halls of Regis Jesuit High School that made us aware there was an active shooter at Arapahoe high school, less than ten miles from where we sat.

On Dec. 13, 2013 an armed gunman entered Arapahoe High School | Courtesy of The Denver Post/ RJ Sangosti

My best friend at the time sat beside me in the lunchroom. Worry was drawn across her face as she furiously sent text after text to a fellow horseback rider, Claire Davis, praying she would reply.

“She probably doesn’t have her phone,” I told my friend confidently, as none of my friends had replied either. “She may have left it in her locker.”

That text never arrived.  Claire Davis, a 17-year-old senior, had her life taken from her at the hands of a, “young man with a troubled past” — a demographic that seems to be at the epicenter of school shootings.

Five years later, a news notification popped up on my phone, detailing another high school shooting that occurred in Parkland, Florida. I swiped it away so I could continue to scroll down my Facebook feed.

“Unbelievable,” I thought, nonchalantly drinking my coffee, “another school shooting.”

But it isn’t. According to an analysis conducted by the Washington Post, more than 150,000 Americans have experienced a shooting on campus since Columbine in 1999. These numbers refer to direct experience. It’s not only believable; it’s our reality.

According to an analysis conducted by the Washington Post, more than 150,000 Americans have experienced a shooting on campus since Columbine in 1999.

It is an interesting phenomenon — the “shock” of shootings in the United States. I walk around campus every day without looking over my shoulder, because I feel safe. Even though I was present when there was a bomb threat at the library only months ago, I still go about my day, unbothered and unworried.

It’s time to stop being like me. It’s time talk about gun violence on campuses and at schools. No, I do not mean a conversation about which partisan path is correct. I want to have a conversation that recognizes that school shootings do not discriminate by political party.

It is time to ask the questions: Why is this happening? Why here, in the world power that is the United States, do we outrun any other country in school shootings?

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It is easy to stand by partisan beliefs when it comes to gun control, because it is an ideological pinpoint for the politically active. But, school shootings are an everybody problem, and therefore, everybody deserves a say in the conversation.

There are multiple arguments: We could pursue Australia-level gun control and  ban semi-automatic and other military-style weapons across the entire country. We could do nothing. We could loosen restrictions on guns. There are many paths to go down, and deciphering this epidemic requires conversation, research, and experimentation to see what the right path is; not partisan riff. 

If we continue to act on the political level instead of the philosophical level, nothing will get done. We need to question the epidemic of school shootings before moving forward with a solution that may not even work. 

We are all affected as a nation by this terrible epidemic. I push students at CSU and in the college community to start talking about the issue on a philosophical level. We are divided as a country, but we can all agree that we don’t want our children to keep dying.

Let’s stop taking sides on a one-sided issue and work towards a solution that includes everyone. Let’s stop answering questions like politicians and start asking them like philosophers.

Let’s stop yelling through our keyboards and take a minute to ask, “Why the hell is this happening in the first place?” 

A good place to start: Why are 97 percent of school shootings perpetrated by males, and why are 80 percent of perpetrators white males? 

Collegian editor Allec Brust can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online @allecbrust.