Panic buttons can’t be our only response to shootings
This time at the University of North Carolina. Frightened students, scared for their lives could be seen jumping out of windows to safety.
This scene is eerily reminiscent of the Columbine shooting that took place when I was in the ninth grade. I remember watching it in a classroom on TV — shocked and terrified — thinking, “Our government will protect us. They’ll never let this happen again.” Talk about the naïveté of youth.
Too many public safety leaders know these kinds of threats all too well. At the University of Pittsburgh, they had to deal with two hoaxes earlier this year. Police swarmed the campus looking for active shooters. I also remember being there in 2012 while attending grad school when we had seemingly continuous bomb threats for weeks. My friends and I would be walking through campus looking for gunmen, wondering if this nightmare would ever end.
It seems as though you can’t even recover from one tragedy before bracing for the next. Just ask residents of Philadelphia, which has seen more than 260 fatal shootings this year alone – and that’s down compared to this time last year. That includes a Temple University police officer who was shot and killed near campus in February.
The University of Pittsburgh announced it is taking new action, installing 400 panic buttons in classrooms all over campus.
I am grateful that Pitt is doing all it can to help students feel safe. But panic buttons can not be the solution to this problem. Are we going to put panic buttons in every classroom, every grocery store, every place of worship across this country?
We will only get to a real solution when politicians find the courage to ban assault weapons — like they did in the 1990s— get real about gun control, get money out of politics and take mental health care seriously.
And that my friends is a fact.
by Natalie Bencivenga, Pennsylvania Capital-Star August 31, 2023
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Natalie Bencivenga is a socially conscious journalist and hosts a weekly show on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. Follow her on Instagram at NatalieBencivenga.