The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Reminders of gun violence around Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is known as a day of love, kindness and friendship. It’s a time for sharing moments of connection and affection with those we love. But to me, the sweetness of Valentine’s Day has been soured with the intensity of gun violence in America. As a college student with my closest friends attending Michigan State University, my perception of this time of year has been damaged. I can not speak for those who have experienced a shooting first-hand, but I know that it is something that changes your life forever. 

On Feb. 13, 2023, three students’ lives were taken at MSU by an active shooter: Alexandria Verner, Brian Fraser and Arielle Anderson. Multiple people were hospitalized and all students were left traumatized. The shooter was on campus for multiple hours and thousands of calls were made during that time. Individuals with any connection to MSU students and members of the MSU community were terrified. We will continue to honor and remember the students of MSU whose lives were lost.

A few years prior, on Feb. 14, 2018, 17 people were murdered and 17 others were wounded by an active shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque Anguiano, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Chris Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup and Peter Wang are gone because of the atrocities committed that day.

On Valentine’s Day this year, one person was killed and 22 others were injured by active shooters at a Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade.

Each year, Americans are reminded of the tragedies that continue to exist in this country and the multiplying list of names that we wish we didn’t have to honor in this way.

Last year, during the week of both Valentine’s Day and the MSU shooting, I was in contact with my best friends over in East Lansing. Upon the anniversary of the MSU shooting event, I reached out to a friend to see how she was coping with shootings recent and past. She said it all makes her angry that so many tragedies have happened since the MSU shooting last year, but hardly any change has happened since. People can’t go to school, people can’t celebrate the Super Bowl, people can’t do anything. 

My friend at MSU told me she was anxious about going to campus for a group meeting on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy and met on Zoom instead. Without any actual discussion of the matter, they were connected by the devastating and despicable event they had experienced. She did not spend much time on campus that day, but what she did see from the campus community made her happy and made her feel the love from her college. Everyone was talking, hugging and respectful to each other. Everyone wore MSU clothing, in an attempt to honor and uplift their peers, despite the lingering grief everyone felt and will continue to feel forever. 

Following the shooting, MSU made some campus security upgrades, including installing about 1,600 door locks across campus. They upgraded the campus’ video surveillance capabilities– a project recommended to the university in July 2022. While security upgrades are of course incredibly beneficial in dangerous situations, it is clear that gun control itself is not strict enough in this country, as mass shootings continue to occur. 

My friend told me that hearing about the Kansas City shooting one year later made it feel like she was reliving what happened at MSU. Every shooting since Feb. 13 at MSU has been upsetting for her since she experienced something similar.

We continue to ask, when will it end?

Gun violence is no longer a niche issue that only friends of friends have experienced. It is all around us, everywhere we look. The people I love have feared for their lives and have been left with the lingering grief of knowing, “it could’ve been me.” I feel sick just remembering the missed calls from friends on my phone from Feb. 13, 2023, even knowing that I am lucky enough to say the people I knew were somewhat okay. Even as someone who has not experienced this type of tragedy firsthand, I am constantly thinking of how I can find safety in every place I enter. Every public space I walk into, I check where a decent hiding spot may be. I stare at the locks on the doors of every classroom I am in and feel my heartbeat increase every time someone I do not recognize walks past the windows of the dance rooms I have class in. I know it is a privilege to say that I have not experienced a shooting firsthand. However, shootings seem to be an ever-present reality for many and I know change is needed.

These are not stories we hear on global news. These are experiences of the people we love who have nearly lost everything or they are the nightmare of hearing about the death of someone you hold dear.

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