On Nov. 28 at 1:30 p.m Sam Collington, a senior at Temple University, was fatally shot outside his apartment in the 2200 block of North Park Avenue in North Philadelphia. Collington was a political science major at Temple on track to graduate in May 2022, and he was planning to attend law school after graduation. In a single moment in time, his dreams were stolen by a careless and cruel act of gun violence. His shooter was 17 years old.
Gun violence has become an epidemic across the United States.
Its occurrence has become so commonplace in our society that it barely holds our attention for longer than a TikTok video. For the loved ones affected, the horror is never ending. However, this tragic incident hits home, for as an institution in the greater Philadelphia area, this occurred right in our own backyard.
As a former Temple student myself, this is deeply troubling. The place that I once called home is now unsafe to dwell in.
The devastating loss of Collington marks the 445th gun related homicide in Philadelphia in 2021, according to the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting. There have also been 1,689 nonfatal shooting victims so far; both numbers have surpassed the previous all time high in 1990.
Villanova prides itself on maintaining the safety of its students. As a Catholic institution, we pride ourselves on our strong values of human life and community.
Although we are not based directly in the city of Philadelphia, we need to show concern for our fellow students throughout Philadelphia and its surrounding areas who live with these occurrences in their backyard.
As we all know, this issue extends beyond Philadelphia. On Nov. 30, a gunman opened fire at Oxford High School in Detroit, Michigan, killing four students and injuring seven. The gunman was 15 years old.
With the loss of so many young, innocent lives, do you ever wonder simply why don’t we have stricter gun control laws?
For starters, there are implications on both state and national levels that come into play.
The state of Pennsylvania is currently an “open carry state,” meaning that residents are allowed to carry loaded firearms with the exception of Philadelphia, which requires a permit to open carry. The state does require extensive background checks on both licensed and unlicensed sales that even access mental health records when someone is purchasing a gun. However, this is undermined by national laws.
Congress does not require background checks on unlicensed sales, which allows for unfit buyers to acquire guns online, at a gun show or other “underground” methods. This permits illegal gun trafficking to occur not only statewide, but nationwide as well.
Additionally, in Pennsylvania as well as on a national level, there are currently no laws that mandate the safe storage and handling of a firearm in a home. This allows for minors or unstable individuals to gain access to guns.
For instance, James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the Oxford High School shooter, Ethan Crumbley, left their firearm in an unlocked, easily accessible drawer for their son to get ahold of. This allowed him to illegally possess this gun without supervision.
No student should have to fear for their lives in school, but at the end of the day, whose responsibility is it to make change? The states? The federal government? Both? Will we finally be the generation to make this change?
May the families of Collington, Hana St. Juliana, Justin Shilling, Tate Myre and Madisyn Baldwin be kept in our thoughts and prayers.