If not for the grace of God, quick police work and the sound judgment of students, High Point University may have been next on the long list of mass shootings in the U.S. in 2019.
A freshman at High Point University was arrested last week after police found a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun, a 12-gauge shotgun and ammunition in his dormitory room. The student was charged with two felony counts of possessing weapons on educational property and one felony count of communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property.
According to High Point police records, he had been planning “to shoot up the school.”
HPU students probably saved any number of lives by alerting campus security that he had brought weapons onto campus. They also provided a strong example for the rest of us.
A Guilford County prosecutor said, according to WGHP-TV, that the student had chosen a North Carolina college because the gun laws here are less restrictive than in Massachusetts.
Some state legislators have tried in recent years to make the law more permissive, even trying, in one case, to allow guns in college classrooms.
The near miss at HPU comes only months after a mass shooting in April at UNC-Charlotte claimed two lives and seriously wounded three others. One of the fatally wounded students, ROTC student Riley Howell, saved others by charging the gunman and appropriately was buried with full military honors.
Among the survivors was 19-year-old Drew Pescaro, who recently lifted his shirt at the General Assembly to show where a bullet entered his back and exited his through his lower chest. So far, the legislature has been unmoved. Bills that address gun violence, including a “red flag law” that would allow judges to restrict access to firearm by an individual who may deemed to pose a danger himself or others, remain stalled by Republican resistance.
In the meantime, on Saturday, yet another tragic mass shooting unfolded in Odessa, Texas, where a man with an AR-style weapon killed seven people and injured 22 more — including three law enforcement officials and a 17-month-old who was hit in the mouth and chest with shrapnel — before police officers killed him. No motive was declared or, so far, discerned, and the killer had no obvious affiliation with any terrorist or extremist group.
Yet a neighbor described the shooter as “a violent, aggressive person” who shot at animals, mostly rabbits, at all hours of the night.
“We were afraid of him,” the neighbor told The Associated Press, “because you could tell what kind of person he was just by looking at him. He was not nice, he was not friendly, he was not polite.”
The killer, having failed a background check, shouldn’t have had a firearm in the first place. Yet as far as we know, nobody reported him to the authorities. Nobody spoke up.
“Too many Texans have lost their lives,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said on Sunday. “The status quo is Texas is unacceptable, and action is needed.”
What that action might be is anybody’s guess. Abbott’s fellow Republicans have had plenty of opportunities and incentives to take action, but haven’t. That would suggest that they’ve accepted the status quo.
Back in North Carolina, some can’t move sensible gun legislation forward in the General Assembly because others won’t let them, apparently fearing blowback from the National Rifle Association.
It looks like the situation will only improve if they receive a different kind of blowback at the voting booth in 2020.