Shooting shocks NIU
February 29, 2008
Filed under Archives
“I couldn’t imagine this ever happening at my school,” said Guilford sophomore Chet Levine after he heard about the Northern Illinois University shooting on Feb. 14. But for Northern Illinois students, it did happen.
“It is probably the weirdest feeling in the world,” a Northern Illinois sophomore Laura Griffith said in an e-mail interview. “It was all so surreal to me because I could not get it through my head that this was my school.”
Steve Kazmierzak, 27, fired a shotgun, killing five students and injuring16. Kazmierzak then killed himself.
Kazmierzak, an NIU alum, was apparently a likable person. No one has admitted to having any previous knowledge of the shooting, and police arrived within 90 seconds of the shooting’s start. With this information come questions of how the tragedy could have been prevented.
“I don’t know if (the shooting) could have been prevented,” said Northern Illinois student Erin Dunbar in an e-mail interview. “I know that the campus police acted quickly.” Dunbar knew Dan Parmenter, a victim of the shooting, who later died.
School shootings aren’t rare occurrences these days. Less than a year ago, one gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, killed 32 students at Virginia Tech. In the past 10 years there have been shootings at two elementary schools, five middle schools, 13 high schools, seven colleges and even one Amish school.
In light of another school shooting, people are thinking of solutions.
Steve Moore, a writer for UC Daily News, believes that people should be prepared and, therefore, able to defend themselves in shootings.
“The solution to the mitigation to these rampages is for the people of this country to finally realize that people who possess legal concealed handgun(s) (and) carry permits should be free to carry them anywhere they go with no restrictions.”
If citizens or students were allowed to carry guns at schools, churches, malls, etc., like Moore suggests, Kazmierzak could have been shot before he had a chance to kill innocent people. However, this could have created panic in Cole Hall, where the shooting took place.
Ron Davidson, of the Chicago Sun-Times, focused more on controlling who can buy a gun.
“The only intervention that likely would have made a difference – genuinely effective legislation to control the availability of firearms – was nowhere to be found,” Davidson said.
In the state of Illinois, a citizen can buy a gun with a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card. Someone can receive a Firearms Identification Card by meeting a few conditions. He/she cannot have a record of mental illness, narcotic addiction or assault and battery charges within the past five years. He/she also cannot be mentally retarded.
There is no question that Kazmierzak with a gun was a threat. Legislation needs to construct a way to prohibit the Kazmierzaks and the Chos from purchasing firearms.
The abolishment of purchasing guns all together is one answer. Another popular solution is instituting a longer application process for a Firearms Identification card. Davison suggest including a personal interview with a specialized psychologist in the application process.
The government needs to figure out the best solution and enforce it. The government, schools, police and even students need to be aware of their surroundings.