The UNC shooting in Chapel Hill is one of those things that shouldn’t have been on the national radar, much less become fodder for gun control advocates.
It was a homicide, yes, and tragic because of that. Yet had the exact same incident happened at someone’s home or on the streets, most of us would never have heard about it. While it might still be used to justify anti-gun efforts, it would only be in the context of it being a statistic.
Because it happened on campus, though, it became a national news story.
Now, months later, it apparently still is.
A student editorial from the University of California Davis has decided to use the shooting to justify gun control.
You may not have heard, but there was a big commotion in the world of college newspapers late last year. The Daily Tar Heel, the student newspaper of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), published a front page that went viral. After a horrific shooting on campus that killed a faculty member and had students barricading themselves anywhere they could, their editorial board ran an issue to describe the experience from students’ perspectives. Instead of a traditional headline, the entire front page was filled with text messages sent and received by students during the three-hour lockdown, including heart-wrenching lines like “I am so sorry this is happening” and “Still going on and coming closer, hoping it’s cops.”
The Daily Tar Heel was reported on by NPR, acknowledged by President Biden and applauded by people around the country who recognized the difficult feat of reporting this subject. It was an undoubtedly impressive display of vulnerability and resilience but it was also an example of precisely the type of work that is so important to student newspapers.
The problem with the response to the viral UNC issue is that for all the outrage and emotion, nothing changed at a state or national level. The passionate testimony from students was not met with policy changes or even sustained public outcry. As with so many devastating events, the media coverage and awareness spiked within a week and then steadily faded from the memory of most Americans.
It should be noted, however, that the killer likely didn’t legally purchase that handgun since people in the US on student visas are generally barred from doing so.
So we have a person who likely purchased a gun illegally, carried it into a gun-free zone, then committed the crime of murder, and this editorial board thinks that if we’d just passed one more law, suddenly things would be different?
I mean, unless they just want to lump on a few more charges, because that’s literally all that would have been accomplished.
Let’s not forget that these students are in California, which the editorial board acknowledges has strict gun control laws, yet this story about three mass shootings in eight days is just a smidge over a year old.
The only difference between these shootings and a mass shooting on a campus is the location. There’s really not any other difference, so how did California’s extensive gun control laws prevent any of those three shootings?
What happened at UNC was awful in so many ways, but it’s not justification to infringe on people’s constitutionally protected right, especially when there’s so little reason to believe it would accomplish anything.