Marquette students respond to Newtown shooting

Despite the loud, growing and divisive national debate about guns and violence, there have been several displays of support and comfort for those affected by the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last month. Marquette students took the opportunity to express their condolences and support the community affected by the shooting.

Jacqueline Boratyn, a junior in the College of Education, has been gathering letters from Marquette students and faculty to send to the Sandy Hook community. Boratyn said that in the aftermath of the shooting she was inspired to help this community. While she did not receive a large amount of responses during winter break, Boratyn plans to send a second round of letters sometime in mid-March.

“I knew I wanted to do something to reach out to those affected … not just family, but teachers, students, staff and the community as a whole,” Boratyn said.

Some of her friends at other schools were gathering letters expressing condolences and support for the Sandy Hook community in response to the shooting, and Boratyn decided to do her own collection from Marquette students. She asked students in the College of Education for emailed letters expressing messages of encouragement and condolences, which she then printed and mailed to the Sandy Hook community. She sent the initial request for letters in late December and early January.

Boratyn felt especially impacted by the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook shooting because of her likely position as a future teacher. The story of Victoria Soto, the teacher who died while protecting her first grade students from the shooter, resonated strongly with her.

“Schools are supposed to be safe havens, places where people can grow into who they want to be,” she said. “I can imagine the impact that this shooting had on the community, and I wanted to reach out and show them we care and are thinking about them.”

Boratyn said she hopes to help those impacted in Connecticut, even as they start to slowly recover and heal from the horrific experience.

“My hope is that even after the holidays, the Sandy Hook community continues to see that we are still thinking about and praying for them,” she said.

Some are taking political action to try to prevent future tragedies.

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo expanded the existing laws to address the issues brought up in the recent discussions such as background checks for gun purchases, limitations on bullets in a magazine and a more specific ban on assault weapons.

President Barack Obama also released the potential actions he could take and a list of recommendations for Congress to address. Obama’s proposals for Congress included a new ban on assault weapons, specific limits on high capacity magazines and an expansion on background checks during gun purchases. Most of his executive actions are specifically tailored to increase and aid the application and enforcement of the laws currently on the books with regards to gun control.

Liz Bruss, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, agrees with the new laws. Bruss said she hopes they will be the first step toward additional, comprehensive legislative action taken at either the state or federal level in response to the recent mass shootings.

“My first response [to the Sandy Hook shooting] was horror and sadness that these mass shootings are still occurring,” Bruss said.

Claire Hackett, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, also felt horrified by the news of the shooting and that most of the victims were so young.

“It seemed so shocking that someone would gun down an elementary school,” she said. “They were just little kids, they haven’t had a life yet. They were just beginning.”

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