We are horrified by, and grieving over, the senseless mass shooting Tuesday evening at our sister university, UNC-Charlotte. Our sympathies are with the families and friends of the beloved students who lost their lives, and for those who were injured.
We expect that some of you reading this have been affected by the tragedy at UNCC. Like me, when I heard about the shooting, many of you may have scanned the news, anxiously looking for confirmation that someone you know at UNCC was safe from harm. For some families, there is only pain, and we feel deeply for them. Please reach out for support if you need help. Counseling services are available for students through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and for faculty and staff through UNC’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). We also would encourage you to connect with friends, fellow students, colleagues, faculty and staff members at Gillings whom you would feel comfortable reaching out to. As Chancellor Guskiewicz shared in his message, do not hesitate to contact 911 for an emergency or University Police at (91) 962-3951 if you ever feel threatened or in danger. Please also consider downloading and using the LiveSafe app. I’m going to do that today.
Guns and interpersonal violence are public health issues. As I wrote on my blog only three days ago, we cannot be safe if guns are available for purchase to nearly anyone who desires one. I believe firmly, as do many of the most respected people in public health, that guns should not be readily accessible. They have no place in schools, universities, concert venues, houses of worship, hospitals, homes or many of the countless other settings in which people have been gunned down. We cannot even fully understand the extent of the problem – or determine effective solutions – without supporting more and better research into this urgent public health problem. Rules prohibiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from doing this important research are without any credible rationale and should be undone.
As a society, we must go beyond mourning our dead and injured and then moving on. If Columbine, Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech did not change minds; Charleston, Orlando, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs and Parkland did not change minds; Pittsburgh, Sri Lanka and Christchurch did not change minds (in this country, although the prime minister and parliament of New Zealand acted swiftly and resolutely), and so many more, it seems naïve to think that something will come along to change votes. I’m not a political strategist, but doing what we have been doing is not making us safer. It seems to me that gun control must become a movement in which we collectively say that we are done electing candidates who do not support strong controls on gun access and research to demonstrate effective prevention of gun violence.
We have many friends, colleagues and loved ones at UNC-Charlotte. With this in mind, and with thanks to the wonderful staff in our Office of Student Affairs for thinking of this idea and following through with it, we are creating a banner – from all of us at the Gillings School to everyone at UNC-Charlotte. We will post the banner in Armfield Atrium over the next several days so anyone who wants to add a message can do so. We plan to send the banner next Monday, May 13. Please join us in this small gesture by taking a moment to sign.
The views expressed in this blog are Barbara Rimer’s alone and do not represent the views and policies of The University of North Carolina or the Gillings School.