How many more?

A student sobs on the bus ride home after the shooting at the Covenant School. Photo courtesy of Nicole Hester for the Tennessean. 


The footage of a rightfully angry woman asking news reporters, “Aren’t you guys tired of covering this?” after the shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville stung. I wondered that same question on May 25, 2018, the day of the shooting at Noblesville West Middle School.

I was finishing my junior year of high school when Noblesville High School abruptly went on “code yellow,” or an exterior lockout. A classmate got a text from their little sister that there was a shooting at her school, Noblesville West Middle School. 

While an actual shooting occurred just four miles away, chaos ensued at the high school as it went into lockdown. A student called in a fake bomb and shooting threat, also known as swatting — the act of dispatching armed officers without an emergency. For almost an hour, my class hid in a storage closet until a heavily armed SWAT team came in to secure our floor. 

Through my TV screen, I had seen the devastation of school shootings since Sandy Hook and felt sick, but it’s another level of disorientation when it happens right in front of you. I was tired of gun violence, and I’m beyond tired now waiting for everyone else to be. 

As the Nashville news reports came flooding in, my friends from home told me they kept mistakenly reading “Nashville” as “Noblesville,” acting as another painful reminder of what happened to our community. Nothing has changed as the headlines are still strikingly similar. 

Each time another shooting happens, I think of the survivors I came to know afterward. There’s no justice for the people left behind when over 80,000 Americans are injured or die from gun violence every year. 

Junior psychology major Keeley Vaught recalled the moment she learned about the shooting in Nashville. 

“It sounds terrible, but I wasn’t surprised,” Vaught said. “The United States is known for school shootings, which is completely embarrassing.” 

Alongside the horrifying details of the Nashville shooting, the identity of the shooter became the main topic of discussion. 

The Nashville shooter identified as trans, leading many conservative political pundits and politicians to jump at the chance to use this shooting to further their anti-LGBTQ agendas

Senior sociology major Emma Eyrich spoke about their frustration with anti-trans rhetoric spreading across the country. 

“A lot of the politicians that are trying to make the transgender community a scapegoat for what the real problem is are the same politicians that were wearing the AR-15 pins on their suits for House meetings,” Eyrich said. 

The Nashville shooting was a horrifying tragedy that should have never happened, but it came at an incredibly unfortunate time for the trans community. For years, politicians have used excuses like mental illness, bullying and culture as attempts to rid themselves of any responsibility for perpetuating a culture of gun violence. Sadly, trans people have become the newest target, and blaming them is a distraction from the fight for gun control. 

Weeks ago, a shooting broke out at Michigan State University, leaving three people dead and five injured. The next day, I was beyond anxious in my classes. I got home, hoping for a minute of reprieve, but I heard the lovely Outlook chime. It was an email from BUPD about Butler’s active shooter protocol. 

The last paragraph reads, “You don’t have to be a victim. Know your role, and be prepared … Together, we can make a difference.” 

You. Don’t. Have. To. Be. A. Victim. 

These seven words bounced around my head for hours and made my heart race. 

This email had to have had multiple eyes on it. It was an email covering a sensitive topic, being sent to thousands of people campus-wide. Students across campus were disappointed with the choice of words in the email. 

Vaught talked about her reaction to the email BUPD sent about Michigan State. 

“I remember reading [in the email] that you have control and have a little bit of responsibility to take,” Vaught said. “That’s a bizarre thing to say. I understand if they were trying to get something else across, but it was almost victim blaming.” 

While this was just one phrase out of an entire email, their unfortunate choice of words points to a larger issue. The way that email was worded insinuates that if you’re a victim of a crime, it’s your fault, and you could have done more. 

John Conley, BUPD’s Chief of Public Safety, commented on the email in question. 

“Someone had reached out about [the email],” Conley said. “I went back and reviewed that, and I did apologize for not thinking of it on those terms, but when you read that statement, ‘You don’t have to be a victim,’ that doesn’t stop there. It’s the rest of it: ‘Know your role and be prepared.’” 

Conley explained that Butler has a few safety enhancements in place, like locks on every classroom door and emergency protocol posters in classrooms, but cited some concerns about preparedness. 

“I’m not really confident though that we are getting what we need from the classroom as far as reminders from faculty and staff,” Conley said. 

Many students have grown up under threats of shootings, so they’re familiar with the idea behind Run, Hide, Fight, but may not know what to do if it happens when they’re in class. 

Vaught, who was a first-year student during the fall 2020 semester, talked about how some Butler students are left to figure things out on their own. 

“I have never been personally told about it by a professor, any staff or faculty here,” Vaught said. “I’ve read the posters, and I’ve seen Run, Hide, Fight, but honestly, I heard more about it in high school than I do here.” 

Things are starting to change with how Butler is addressing shootings, but the university could be making stronger efforts to bridge gaps in preparedness. 

Everyone that I spoke with for this article mentioned that Butler has some good safety protocols, but each of them said there are shortcomings. I don’t think that anyone is naive enough to think that our campus could have iron-clad security measures that will protect us from everything. But, there are patterns in the messages we’re being sent that are highly anxiety-inducing for many students. 

With the state of Congress today, it’s never been harder to pass gun control legislation. I’ve gone through countless waves of feeling hopeful and defeated, but the truth is, it’s important to persist. 

The thing about political or social movements that many people often fail to recognize is that outrage only accomplishes so much. Showing your anger on social media can be cathartic, but more action is required. 

There are a few ways you can stay informed and actively fight against gun violence. You can join student-led organizations like Students Demand Action or March for Our Lives or local organizations like Hoosiers Concerned about Gun Violence and Stop the Violence Indianapolis

Be sure you know what your state’s gun laws are and reach out to your senators, on the state and federal levels, to show support for stronger gun laws. 

Take time to listen to and read stories from survivors, especially from women, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ survivors as gun violence disproportionately impacts marginalized groups at alarming rates. Mass shootings account for less than 1% of instances of gun violence. There are thousands of smaller-scale tragedies impacting these communities we don’t hear about. 

Real people are impacted by shootings. Just like any school, it could happen at Butler, and it has happened to people at Butler. We can and should do better.


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