Ten Brandeis community members joined in a conversation about the effects of gun violence, on Tuesday night in the Christian Lounge.
Students and members of the chaplaincy who attended the event spoke about the personal feelings and insecurities they deal with living in a society which has seen mass shootings in schools, churches, synagogues and movie theaters.
The group asked that anonymity be a rule for participation in the conversation due to the sensitivity of the subject.
The discussion noted the differing experiences that students have had with guns and gun violence.
Two of the students noted that they came from towns that have been subject to mass shootings. One person said that her parents were gun owners and she had been raised in a household which stressed gun safety but felt strongly about the 2nd amendment.
All of the members of the discussion expressed that mass shootings and gun violence are horrible things which do not have easy answers.
“It’s not a quick fix,” one member of the discussion noted.
One member of the conversation lamented that even after mass shootings such as the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman fatally shot 20 elementary school children, “there’s still not the political will” to incite change.
Some students noted that even for those who didn’t come from a town that had experienced a mass shooting, gun violence was a subject that hit close to home. These students pointed to an armed robbery that took place on the Brandeis campus in the Hassenfeld residence hall last year.
This robbery, one student said, “pointed out how vulnerable we are.”
“We don’t have systems in place that make me feel safe,” that student added.
Last year, the university issued an emergency shelter-in-place order on Nov. 20 when police were called to respond to a report that two “non-community members” had threatened three Brandeis students with a handgun on the sixth floor of Hassenfeld.
“We didn’t know what was going on,” one student said about the event in Hassenfeld during the conversation on gun violence. Another student described “a lack of good communication.”
One member of the chaplaincy described the culture surrounding gun violence as a “culture of fear.”
Students noted that everyone has a different emotional response following events such as mass shootings. A chaplaincy member noted that while practicing active shooter drills might make some people feel more safe, it might have the opposite effect on other people.
In the course of discussion, students noted that they react to news of a mass shooting in different ways. One student said that she used to ask herself, “What can I do?” but has more recently tried to ignore this instinct.
“Usually I just ignore the news because it makes me sad,” one student said. Another student said she would turn off her phone “until I have the time and the mental energy to deal with it.”
“You want to be informed but it can also being traumatizing,” a student stated.
At the end of the event the group stood as one discussion member shared a few words of hope before a brief moment of silent reflection.