In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, the most deadly shooting in modern United States history, Trinity Progressives are matching thoughts and prayers with action as they plan a gun violence vigil. The vigil is intended to not only honor and remember those affected by gun violence, but educate and encourage students and faculty to become involved in the politics surrounding gun violence.
“If the massacre of 58 individuals is not enough to warrant an inquisition into why those people were able to be so easily and violent killed, into why gun violence is such an issue in our country, then it seems as if there will never be a right time for those discourses,” said Maddie Kennedy, co-president of Trinity Progressives.
Trinity Progressives argue it is their responsibility to challenge the structures that allow gun violence to be so prevalent.
“At the time of this interview, 11,986 people have died as a result of gun violence in 2017 alone. That is sufficient to classify as an epidemic, a public health problem that the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] is not allowed to cover. While there are many other types of violence in the United States, and each method is tragic, guns make it easier to kill people. Guns make it easier to commit suicide. Guns make mass shootings possible. There is a common denominator into those 11,986 deaths that demands investigation and protest,” Kennedy said.
One of those victims was Floyd East, Jr., a Texas Tech police officer shot on Monday, Oct. 9.
“The world outside of Trinity exists outside of our bubble, but that does not mean it does not affect us. That does not mean that your Trinity peers have not been potentially affected or touched by gun violence,” Kennedy said. “Furthermore, as we see in the wake of the Texas Tech shooting, university campuses are not able to escape the threat of gun violence.”
The shooter was 19-year-old Hollis Daniel. The Associated Press reported that Daniels was the son of Dan Daniels, a prominent figure in Seguin, Texas, just 35 miles northeast of San Antonio. Gun violence, and violence on campus, is not all that far away from Trinity.
From the 2001–2002 school year through the 2015–2016 school year, 64 percent of college shootings occurred in southern states with weak gun laws. Becoming involved with anti-gun activism in even small ways, makes a big difference.
“I urge students to take advantage of the resources available for the planning of such events — the expertise, advice, funds and manpower needed to put on an event can be provided by a number of on-campus organizations that welcome such ideas. If a student is uninvolved currently on campus, but has an idea that they would like to see come to fruition, I would urge them to take initiative and reach out,” said Simone Washington, sophomore Trinity Progressives member and Student Government Association senator.
In addition to students becoming more involved with politics on campus, Trinity Progressives urge professors and other administration to take steps toward involvement both in and out of the classroom.
In terms of the upcoming vigil, the Trinity Progressives have reached out to several faculty, though nothing is final yet. The group aims to reach a broad of faculty, students, and staff to attend.
“I would like to see more collaboration between the administration and students when programming events of this nature. It is impactful for students to see their professors outside of the academic setting, engaging with issues that are meaningful to them,” Washington said.
Washington expressed that to best honor victims of gun violence, all thought must be paired with action. To honor victims, event planning or other programming should challenge participants to think of possible solutions and use these solutions as an outlet for students to internalize the grief associated with yet another mass shooting.
Additionally, Trinity Progressives urge students to engage and be critical of information shared about the shooter. Many popular media outlets have romanticized Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, as a victim of mental illness, rather than portraying him as a terrorist.
“Compare the rhetoric that has been used to characterize this individual with the rhetoric that has been used to describe similar attacks. Take the time to analyze the differences between this rhetoric and ask yourself why this is the case,” Washington said.
This vigil is only the first step of action that students should feel obligated to engage with.
“I feel that students are obligated to be engaged with gun violence because they are obligated to recognize the humanity of their fellow Americans, and the suffering that we are privileged not to have to encounter. We need to find ways to care for our fellow humans. I would urge students to contact their representatives, to write, to sign petitions, to call. Political intervention matters at many different levels,” Kennedy said.
There has not been an exact date set for the vigil, but Trinity Progressives predict it will happen Sunday, Oct. 15 or Monday, Oct. 16. Stay posted on the exact date by following Trinity Progressives on Facebook or Instagram, or contact a member.