Reader Mike writes:
The alarm jolts you awake, your hand shoots out slapping at your phone trying to put it on snooze. You succeed only to have it go off again after a few seconds. “Three and half hours of sleep…not bad,” you mutter as you drag your tired body out of bed and get ready to head to school. You walk in a daze, barely minding your surroundings. All you care about is more sleep….and work, all those applications for internships, all for nothing but the rejections . . .
Before you even make it to studio, your stomach reminds you that even though sleep in the architecture world is overrated, you still gotta eat. You think about what you’re going to get as you head to studio to drop off your backpack and then to the school cafeteria before realizing class starts in a half hour. Going to take too much time to walk all the way out there, you decide to go to the first floor café of the architecture building to grab a sandwich instead. That’s when your phone alerts you to a text: “Person with a weapon has been reported on Danforth Campus”.
Crap. Not again. And this time, it’s on this campus, better hurry up and get inside. Before you even enter the parking lot, your phone goes off again. This time the school emergency service is calling you. “A person with a weapon has been spotted on the Danforth campus, shots have been fired. Please go to a place you feel safe and remain there until further notice” the automated voice informs you.
Your hand tightens around the phone as you start scanning your surroundings. No good…you’re out in the open. You start moving between the cars while scanning the area, ready to drop down in case you spot the shooter. You run across the last remaining open spot to get inside. Then you look around again…am I really that safe in this building? Where can I take cover? Exit paths? Alternate routes to move through the building?
No, it doesn’t look too good. You head to studio thinking of ways to defend yourself if in the worst case scenario the shooter enters the building. What do you have…fire extinguishers, rulers, X-Acto knives, box cutters, various paints and glues. The only “real” weapon you have is your pocket knife. Your mind goes to the gun that’s sitting in your safe back in the apartment. Well, damn, how unfortunate you can’t have it with you.
This is what happened that day on April 20, 2016. Luckily, there was no active shooter, if you want to use that term. Instead, from the media reports, in a case of road rage, a person opened fire at another vehicle before escaping.
Regardless what the actual reason was, it’s quite certain that even though there was no active shooter and that the shooter more than likely wasn’t affiliated with the school, Monsanto Mommy will still mark it down as another school shooting. One person, a school employee of the school food services, was injured. She was shot in the arm, but was reported as non-life threatening. There haven’t been any updates on the motive; whether she was the target of the road rage or just an innocent bystander who can get hit by a stray round.
There are allegedly two suspects, both still not found to date. The lockdown went on for over 90 minutes and we were told to shelter in place until the further notice. The shooting occurred in front of the school bookstore, right next to the school cafeteria that had considered.
It should also be noted that this wasn’t the first incident of shots fired near the Washington University Danforth campus. The school has five campuses. In the past month, there were shooting at two. One near the North Campus, which contains mainly administrative offices and another near the Medical Campus in which was person was injured. In both cases, the respective campuses went into lockdown.
Now my school, like the majority of universities across the nation, has a no carry policy. We are officially a gun-free zone. Instead, we are to rely on campus police and security to protect us in events like this. Below is an example of what we have to do in the event of a threat:
Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to board up their doors like that. I went down to the wood shop to grab some sandpaper (even under lockdown, the architecture grind still goes on) only to find that the door was locked. After managing to text a friend in there to open the door, I walked in to see well over three dozen students inside. It turns out a freshman class decided to take shelter there, a room with one of the walls lined with windows that have no blinds. One can easily look in from the outside. Not exactly a safe place to hole up.
After getting back home, I found a pamphlet as I cleaned my desk. It was part of a letter that was sent out near the beginning of the school year. Of the various papers in side, one was a pamphlet titled “Know where to go in an emergency.” Among the various emergencies that can happen on campus such as tornados and earthquakes, there was a category for active shooters. They list the following:
Run: Leave the building if someone in it is shooting a firearm or committing violence. Notify anyone you encounter to exit the building.
- Hide: If you cannot leave the building, lock or barricade yourself in the nearest room. Hide and keep as quiet as possible.
- Fight: If confronted by the gunman, fight and defend yourself.
- Report: Call the emergency number for your location, if possible.
I find it more than a little ironic that they advise us to fight, yet they prevent us from carrying the tools to do so. Knives are also forbiden on campus, but since I’m an architect student, it works as an excuse…granted no one knows I have it in the first place.
The school has two types of security. We have Campus Security whose officers are unarmed and the Campus Police. I can’t say if they’re an entity of the St. Louis Metro Police, but these officers are armed and I recall seeing shotguns and ARs in their patrol vehicles.
What I don’t understand is why they expect us, the students, to believe that they are capable of defending us. Granted we do have a relatively small campus, but it still takes time to respond.
Take the previous image of the barricaded room, for instance. Want to make that room even more secure? Let a student in there carry a gun. Honestly, as this point I will be willing to compromise, even though I don’t like it. I’m willing to follow a similar set of rules to those now in place at the University of Texas so long as I can carry a firearm. I’m not trying to replace the police. I’m not saying that they can’t do their job. But there aren’t that many officers on our campus and they can’t be everywhere at once. I believe I have a better chance of protecting myself in an emergency before they can react and reach my location.
So what options do I currently have?
- Carry anyway: I’m not going to take any chances with this, even more so since I was already reported to the school of architecture dean earlier in the semester because someone saw a picture of a gun as I was reading an article (I believe I was on TFB at the time). Furthermore, there isn’t an option to carry on the MetroLink and the buses as currently it’s illegal to do so in Missouri. Walking to school is the only way to go while armed until I get my own transportation.
- Leave it in a car: Wash U. is way ahead of you on this one; no weapons may be stored within your vehicle on any school owned property such as parking lots. So I would have to get to school early (friends say 7-8AM is a good time) to park on the street and then walk to school. Chances of anyone searching your vehicle are probably slim, but I still don’t want to take the chance.
- Go less lethal: Not something I want to, but it’s a viable option nonetheless. Especially with the new Taser that’s now on the market that is actually compact, the Pulse. As it stands, the price can’t be completely justified, but it’s something I can work toward.
- Call the school: After digging around, it turns out that the campus police chief is the only person who can grant an exemption to the no-carry rule. I called the Lieutenant (current the acting chief), but he didn’t answer and hasn’t returned my call either. I’m sure the good Lieutenant is busy with the current investigation and I’ll call again in the future, but I highly doubt he will grant me an exemption.
My current goals are to take shooting lessons over summer break. My father taught me gun safety and the basics of shooting. Speed and accuracy are something I need to work on, as well as getting rid of the training scars I picked up from teaching myself how to shoot (most of what I know such as drawing from a cover garment, reloading, trigger control, etc. were self-taught.
I also plan on looking for local IDPA or USPSA clubs to put my skills to the test and learn from others. As much as I would like to purchase more guns (I would love to get another pistol and maybe start acquiring rifle parts), that will be determined by whether or not I can secure an internship.
Those are my goals. More than likely I’ll be getting upgrades for my M&P.
Thank you for reading about my experience.