Students and faculty react to recent Texas church mass shooting

A new tragedy has shocked the nation. On Nov. 5, a gunman entered a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and fired upon the congregation, leaving 26 dead and an estimated 20 injured according to CNN. Students and faculty discuss their mixed emotions after yet another mass shooting, as well as society’s treatment of the perpetrator.

The shooting, which left victims ranging from 5 to 72, was the deadliest shooting to occur at a place of worship in American history. Among the dead included the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter, as well as nine people from the same family.

The gunman, who was found dead in his car, was a 26-year-old recently fired security guard and ex-Air Force airman named Devin Patrick Kelley. The media’s focus of his past criminal records and problematic behavior, including an escape from a mental facility, animal cruelty, and domestic assault, has led to criticism about society’s treatment of mass shooters.

Taylor Baslasavage, a senior English major, had strong emotions on how the media has dealt with the identity of the gunman.

“The shooter’s face is everywhere. All they do is glorify him, and tell me where he worked, what his issues were, his past history was. I just think we need to get rid of that completely.”

Baslasavage also spoke on the frequency of the mass shooting tragedies plaguing the nation.

“We really need to crack down, especially in the media. You can’t glorify these people committing these mass murders.”

Another student, Kelci Piavis, a senior English major, discussed the possibility of political change happening because of this shooting.

“What can we do about it? ‘Oh, we can put it into legislation,’ but wait, that’s not going to happen,” said Piavis.

“He [President Trump] passed a bill that made it easier for people with mental health issues to get a gun,” she said, referring to a bill signed in February which undid a regulation from the Obama administration. “He’s going on like ‘This is a mental health issue,’ when obviously you don’t care.”

Dr. Dale Hazlak, a psychology professor, discussed the characteristics of mass shooters, which included mental health issues.

“What we find in these guys is that they generally have history of antisocial behavior, but not to the degree that it would be diagnosable,” said Hazlak. “They tend to hold resentment, and they tend to hold anger issues. They have really limited coping skills, especially when they find themselves in a situation where they experience a loss.”

Hazlak also spoke about what society can do to prevent future incidents from occurring.

“I think we have a really good 20/20 backwards, which is always the case,” said Hazlak. “I think what we really need to look at is what’s happening in terms of socialization skills. We’ve lost our community base of connectivities.

“We need to start spending time with one another, in a way that makes us have some sense of responsibility to each other.”