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PLNU’s Community Members and Colleagues Share Thoughts and Responses Amid Recent Murder Incidents 

According to the Gun Violence Archive, 619 mass shootings, along with 36 mass murders, happened during 2022 in the U.S. alone. 

As communities across the nation grieve the many losses that occurred in places like the University of Virginia (UVA), University of Idaho (U of I), Club Q in Colorado and Chesapeake, Virginia, many gather to attend candlelight vigils and funerals, and some have shared their experiences via social media. 

The Point asked a few community members to share how their respective experiences of violence affected them. The following are responses from the Wellness Center’s Executive Director Jen King, School of Theology and Christian Ministry faculty member Jon Manning and a friend of a current PLNU student. The student is attending the University of Idaho and requested to remain anonymous due to an organization on campus that discourages students from publicly commenting on the incident. 

Student from University of Idaho:

“The U of I murders have impacted me a ton. Moscow is a very small and safe town, or so we thought, so the fact that it happened in our college town shakes the students and community. It was a community where people felt safe enough to sleep with their doors unlocked. After this incident, a lot of us are realizing that life is really short and we shouldn’t take things for advantage, especially me and my family.

Moving forward, I decided to stay home and finish the semester online. It’s not that campus doesn’t feel safe to me, it’s just that Moscow now has an eerie feeling and I’ve realized I want to take the time with my family. I am hoping that with the start of the spring semester, things will mostly go back to normal and we will get the opportunity to live our college lives like those four would want us to do.

Since I’m not on campus, I am not sure how things are around campus. I know that security has increased a lot and they offered for students to finish the semester online. With all of the security around campus and Moscow, it could possibly be the safest place in the world. The university has been very generous and is open to all students’ needs. They have many counseling opportunities and they only want the best for each and every kid.”

Jen King

“As a parent and a healthcare provider, the constant news and threats of gun violence has become far too common. I fear we have become complacent as a nation when I hear of more and more incidents that get a passing soundbite on the news. Meanwhile, we are going about our busy lives and preparing our children, colleagues and students for mass shooting events as an annual competency. The burden of gun violence in the United States outpaces that of comparable peer countries and is a leading cause of premature death. Nearly 60% of all firearm deaths in the United States are suicides. As efforts to focus on mental health become a more popular topic, this should be especially concerning and needs to be categorized as an epidemic in this country in the same way we have categorized many other infectious disease or lifestyle disease threats to life and/or quality of life. We should be applying tools and science-based knowledge from public health to look upstream for the root cause; identify research gaps, create policy solutions and public health education campaigns to eliminate the threat. We need evidenced based solutions that have been effective in improving health and reducing injury from gun violence. We have been successful in this approach to improve helmet laws, reduce automobile injury, improve heart disease and mitigate spread of disease in a pandemic. We can and should be putting the same collective efforts to reduce gun violence.”

Jon Manning

“Every time there’s a new mass shooting, I’m devastated, frustrated, fearful, angry. This doesn’t happen everywhere equally, and we are not ignorant about the root causes of this kind of violence—widespread access to lots and lots of firearms, and ideologies that dehumanize and scapegoat vulnerable groups of people. Christians should be quick to proclaim the beautiful image of God in every single human being, quick to remember that we are especially called to love our enemies and quick to embrace the nonviolent example of Jesus Christ in all things.”

As the nation continues to mourn this year’s tragedies, individuals and organizations have created resources to assist impacted families and communities. GoFundMe has verified fundraisers for those affected by the UVA, Chesapeake Walmart and Club Q shootings, and individual pages of the platform have been put up for each U of I victim and their families. The nonprofit, Everytown for Gun Safety, offers resource pages and information on gun safety.

Discover other ways to offer support or access resources here.

Written By: Sarah Gleason, Lainie Alfaro and Katie Morris