Shots were fired on a college campus yesterday causing a lock down, requiring student evacuations and wounding three people. This latest act of gun violence in school occurred a month after the mass murders of 20 children and six adults by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
The early afternoon ordeal erupted from an argument between two men while they were outside between an academic building and the library of the Lone Star College's North Harris campus. The school is part of the Houston area's community college system educating 90,000 students.
The two involved in the fight were shot along with a bystander. A fourth person suffered from an unrelated medical issue. They were hospitalized. Many students were scared, hiding or running to safety. Police are investigating and have charged one of the wounded men with the shooting.
The issue of gun control in the midst of gun violence is being addressed at the local, state and national levels. Campus safety is key. Those involved in college prep can learn how the laws will effect them and their schools.
The gun violence comes as college president's are signing An Open Letter to Our Nation’s Policy Leaders.
The letter urges more effective gun control to protect the nation's children, "The time has long since passed for silence and inaction on the issue of reasonable and rational gun safety legislation. We hereby request that our nation’s policy leaders take thoughtful and urgent action to ensure that current and future generations may live and learn in a country free from the threat of gun violence."
The first signatories to the open letter are Lawrence M. Schall, Oglethorpe University (GA) and Elizabeth Kiss, Agnes Scott College (GA). Over 30 college presidents from Long Island and other schools within New York State have signed the letter. Click here to see what schools are represented. The information may assist in college prep.
President Obama is urging stricter legislation for gun control to prevent future gun violence. He is urging Congress to move quickly on his proposals. Among other things, he suggests investing in strategies to make our schools safer including:
- Comprehensive School Safety Grants to purchase school safety equipment
- Develop and update public safety plans
- Conduct threat assessments
- Train “crisis intervention teams” of law enforcement officers to work with the mental health community to respond to and assist students in crisis.
New York's Governor
On January 15, 2013, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law the NY SAFE Act (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act). The new legislation is touted as the toughest gun laws in the nation. Provisions include a ban on high capacity magazines and assault weapons and increased penalties for possession of a firearm on school grounds or a school bus. The current penalty will be increased from a misdemeanor to a Class E Felony.
New York's SAVE Act (Safe Schools Against Violence in Education) requires school districts to develop school safety plans in response to violent incidents or emergencies. The plans are to cover evacuation and dismissal procedures, community response, and alerting family, law enforcement and other schools in the area. The newly formed New York State School Safety Improvement Team, can review assist in the development of plans.
The Texan Lone Star College has a downloadable brochure and online training course for protections against active shooter situations on their website. It provides safety instructions for those in classrooms, hallways, large common areas and open spaces.
Both parents and students are concerned about campus safety. As the law and college policy evolves, knowing what to do in an emergency situation can be a life saver.
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