School shootings must not be validated by victim count

Early Wednesday morning, UCLA students were notified on their phones of a vague crime on campus, only later to be made aware that the crime was in fact a shooting.

Reports of the shooting were met with a massive response by law enforcement and the UCLA campus community. SWAT officers and police squad cars swarmed the campus, and the campus was put on lockdown.

This response was warranted, given the prevalence of gun violence and the sheer number of school shootings alone. There were 64 school shootings in the U.S. in 2015, according to the BBC.

As more facts became available, news outlets — The Daily Californian included —  began to report that one of the two dead was the gunman, so there was no active threat of a larger campus shooting.

As soon as the identity of the shooter was made public, his sickening kill list also came to light. Through all of the coverage, media outlets tended to focus on information about the shooter, his ethnicity and background as opposed to the collateral damage inflicted on the campus community.

It wasn’t the mass shooting we’ve come to expect on college campuses. The body count was lower than it could have been. Fewer news outlets published updates after the nature of the situation became clear, and students were expected to return to life as usual the next day.

The initial cries of outrage and horror petered out as the day progressed: It was just a murder-suicide, so students couldn’t have been that affected. Candlelight vigils were few and far between, as were viral social media messages of support for the Bruins.

Some UCLA professors even reportedly told students they would still be expected to take tests that day, despite the fact that classes were canceled campus wide. The widespread indifference that followed the news delegitimized the trauma that the students, faculty and staff of UCLA undoubtedly felt.

Although the authorities eventually gave the all clear, for the hours between when the shooting occurred and when the massive police response was called off, the people on UCLA’s campus experienced a mass shooting. They felt the terror, the uncertainty and the helplessness. This experience did not go away when they found out it was not the massacre they had expected.

This particular crisis was not the typical American school shooting. But the larger response to it shows that everyone expected it to be. Everyone expected it to be just another episode in the continuing saga of gun violence that plagues our country. This incident happened on a UC campus much like our own, and though it is thankfully behind us, we can’t help but expect it to happen again. Clearly the tragedy continues.

Editorials represent the collective opinion of the Senior Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.

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