Three students are dead, and five are injured following an attack on in East Lansing, Michigan on Monday night. The suspected gunman was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the scene and was later identified by authorities as Anthony Dwayne McRae, 43.
With mass shootings becoming increasingly prevalent in recent decades, college students all over the country have been forced to prepare for the reality of a situation like this one. But for several students who found themselves caught in terror and chaos, it was not their first experience with an on-campus shooting. This article will explore the story of these students and their hopes for the future of America.
A little over ten years ago, the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, occurred, leaving 26 students and staff dead. Jackie Matthews, a now 21-year-old MSU student, survived this horrific attack, only to be put through the same traumatic event on Monday night.
Expanding on that, Matthews posted following the incident urging people to get involved and start actively working for stricter gun control laws in the United States. “We can no longer just provide love and prayers; it needs to be legislation, it needs to be active, it’s not okay,” said Matthews. “The fact that this is the second mass shooting that I have lived through is incomprehensible.
Recalling the events of the Sandy Hook shooting, Matthews said, “I was hunched in the corner with my classmates for so long that I got a PTSD fracture in my L4 and L5 vertebrae; right in my lower back…that flares up any time I’m in a stressful situation or anything occurs that’s aggressive like that.”
Even for the students lucky enough to survive these incidents, there is extreme and lasting trauma that can even manifest itself in physical symptoms, as is the case for Matthews. A decade after her first school shooting experience, she has not recovered and has been subjected to another comparable ordeal.
That being said, Matthews is not the only student with this experience. For Emma Riddle, an 18-year-old freshman, this is her second experience with surviving a mass shooting in less than two years. To expand on that, she lived through an in Oakland County, Michigan, that killed four and injured seven in November of 2021, according to a CBS news report.
Riddle, too, calls for citizens and politicians alike to fight with more passion for stricter gun ownership laws in the US. In an interview with the Riddle said, “It is completely in power to change things and idly to stand by is disgraceful. You’re not only betraying the people of the United States, but the children of the United States …Do better.”
A terrified Riddle shared her thoughts on about the harrowing experience as she and other students barricaded themselves in their rooms for safety. “14 months ago, I had to evacuate from Oxford High School when a fifteen-year-old opened fire and killed four of my classmates and injured seven more,” Riddle recalled. “Tonight, I am sitting under my desk at Michigan State University, once again texting everyone ‘I love you.’ When will this end?”
The victims of Monday's shooting have been identified in a statement by MSU as Arielle Anderson, Brian Fraser, and Alexandria Verner. Matthews, Riddle, and other students and staff at MSU have been extending their support to friends and family of the victims.
Ultimately, when you have young adults surviving multiple mass shootings before they’re able to finish their educational track, it's indicative of a systemic and urgent issue with the way people in the US have access to guns.
Younger generations like Riddle and Matthews’ have a unique perspective on how gun laws that made sense in the past have not created adequate protection for people from the technologically advanced weapons of today. Mass shootings and public gun violence are not normal things to experience at the rate of hundreds per year.
To echo the sentiments of the students who have actually lived through this unfathomable horror twice in one lifetime, when will this end? To end catastrophes like these, serious reform of American gun control legislation is needed.
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