SCSU Rapid Response Team talks gun violence amid walkouts
Melanie Espinal – Arts and Entertainment Editor
“The Book of Death” is a large plastic binded white printed book with a skull and crossbones on it. In it was 38,658 printed skull and crossbones, double-sided.
The large figure represents gun deaths from 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The book was a prop in a tabling disccusion event held by the SCSU Department of Social Work Rapid Response Team. Jessica Pretak and Rebecca Eisenberg were graduate students at the event, and were sitting by the table along with a large orange banner that said “owls can end gun violence.”
“The Book of Death” that collects the names of 38,653 gun victims in 2016.
Although the team operates out of the social work department, Eisenberg said they does not want to be exclusive to that department and works alongside public health and school of counseling.
Eisenberg said the team hopes that with events like these “they have a space to come and talk and to process.”
Last Friday was the 19th anniversary of Columbine, the Colorado high school shooting where 12 students were killed. In the wake of the anniversary, students from more than 2,500 schools nationwide, according to CNN, participated in class walkouts.
Pretak said she thought the event was timely as students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida were among those walking out.
She said it was equally important for her to discuss the Black Lives Movement, “these issues are pervasive across communities and it’s the reality for families everyday.”
Pretak acknowledged how amped up people can get regarding the topic but said that the purpose of the space was for people to come to talk, whether they come from the left or the right.
“We try to hit different social issues,” Pretak said, as the initiative has ran other events to raise awareness about immigration and LGBTQ issues.”
While a lot of graduate students are involved in the Rapid Response Team, said Pretak, unfortunately, involvement is minimal. She noted this may be because course work and because students may be cramming for exams.
According to a Pew Research Center, three-in-ten American adults say they own a gun. The data was base off a 2017 study which surveyed 3,930 U.S. adults, 1,269 of them gun owners.
“I saw they had a sign and wanted to know what their stance on gun violence was,” said freshman exercise science major, Erik Stanzel said. “But, they seem to want to spread awareness for people to take a stand.”
Stanzel said he asked if they had any ideas, he did not feel too convinced.
Regardless of what the team and faculty members thought, Stanzel said everyone is entitled to their views.
He was not too convinced on conversation regarding the specifics on gun laws surrounding gun shows. Stanzel said which there was conversation about certain states allowing the setting up of private meetings for gun purchases without licenses or background checks.
“I don’t personally know the acts,” Stanzel said, “but it seems far fetched.”
Stanzel said to him it is important to be able to depend on yourself and loved ones. He asked them if they thought there would be less violence if there were more guns, but did not receive facts he found sufficient.
“I feel like there’s not a lot of facts going around” he said while flipping through a fact sheet the team had been handing out.
The handout was an article from “An American Crisis: 18 Facts About Gun Violence and Six Promising Ways to Reduce Suffering” by The Trace, a nonpartisan, nonprofit newsroom according to their website.
One fact in particular that surprised him was that the FBI does not track massshoottings, but instead maintains statstics on mass murders.
“How can we have all these statistics?” Stanzel asked. He said he really just feels like he needs more information and will go home, research and read things over “like a good little college student.”
Photo Credit: Melanie Espinal