Gun violence impacts American students

Mass shootings in America this year hit 69


CWU police responding to false active shooter threat in 2019. Photo Courtesy of The Observer

Megan Rogers, Assistant News Editor

According to the Mass Shooting Tracker, as of Feb. 6 there have been 69 mass shootings in 2023. These shootings resulted in the death of 116 and the wounding of 262 people. The Mass Shooting Tracker defines a mass shooting as, “an incident of violence in which four or more people are shot.”

Washington has been affected by one mass shooting in 2023, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker. The shooting in Yakima took place on Jan. 24. According to ABC News, Jarid Haddock went into a Circle K and killed three people, later killing himself.

According to a poll collected in April 2021 by Pew Research, 53% of Americans believe gun laws should be more strict, 32% believe the laws are “about right,” and 14% believe the laws should be less strict.

Student’s perspective on gun violence

Ian Moffet, a senior public relations major, was a victim of gun violence in April 2021.

Ian Moffet in hospital after being shot. Photo Courtesy of Ian Moffet

“I got shot … in the face … someone was trying to murder me,” Moffet said. “Someone I knew. There [was] mental illness involved with schizophrenia.”

Dede Moreno, a junior graphic design major, said she experienced gun violence in her own life when she was shot in 2020.

“We were just having a get-together at my cousin’s house, and one of our friends had pulled out a gun and drinking was involved too,” Moreno said. “He was just kind of showing us how to load the clip.” 

Moreno said the friend cocked the gun back and unloaded the clip, then pulled back the trigger, thinking that it was empty. 

“I just happened to be in the line of sight,” Moreno said. “It [the bullet] went right through my arm. It was a really intense moment that happened in my life, but for the most part, I’m okay.”

Moreno said when she sees a mass shooting on the news, she isn’t surprised. 

“With the gun laws that we have, they’re pretty less restricting,” Moreno said. “It’s so easy to access guns wherever you go.”

Moffet said he is sad that Americans tend to be numb to mass shootings. 

“I was in [the] UK this summer and I was talking to some Scottish guy about it and he was like, ‘we can’t even imagine any sort of gun violence,’” Moffet said. “Just to get to a point where we’re surprised again. Obviously [I] don’t want any of it to happen, but can we skip to a point where we’re surprised?”

Moreno said she believes gun laws should be stricter, and if someone chooses to own a gun, they should go through a training course and find a firearm that fits them personally. 

“With the situation I went through, I feel like if he had known better safety precautions and when to and when not to bring out guns, especially if alcohol is involved,” Moreno said. “It should be common sense not to do that, but obviously a lot of people don’t understand safety with guns.”

Moffet said there should be stricter sentences for gun violence and the U.S. should have federal Red Flag Laws. 

According to, “A red flag law allows police officers, doctors, family members, or even co-workers to petition a state court to take away an individual’s firearms for up to a year if they believe that person is a danger to themself or others.”

CWU’s response to gun violence

In 2019, there was a threat of an active shooter on CWU’s Ellensburg campus. According to Assistant Chief of the CWU police department Eric Twaites, the threat turned out to be false and was due to miscommunication through many channels. 

“With all the training that we had, we responded appropriately and quickly realized that there was no actual active shooter on campus, which was a blessing,” Twaites said. “As unfortunate as the event was, that still once again showed that … we haven’t had any violence with guns on campus.”

Twaites said in the almost 23 years he has worked for the CWU police department, he hasn’t seen any trends in gun violence on campus. 

“We were incredibly blessed [because] we have not had any gun violence on campus,” Twaites said. “We have a very good community. We’re a very safe community … I think it’s due to a lot of the community outreach and partnerships that we have with our students, staff and faculty.”

To help students avoid gun violence in their own lives, Twaites said if you are in an environment where you don’t feel safe or you think something is odd, report it. 

“If you’re ever in question of something, call 911 and then we can go and respond and figure out what the situation is. Just always be aware of your surroundings,” Twaites said.  

Twaites said it is also important for gun owners to understand their firearms and treat them as if they are always loaded. 

“There’s probably more accidental discharges when individuals are cleaning their firearms,” Twaites said. “When they’re in your house, make sure they’re locked and that’s by law … they’re not toys.”

If someone is not used to their firearm, Twaites recommended attending a firearm training class.

Twaites said CWU has a lot of programs and educational pieces to teach students, faculty and staff how to properly handle firearms.

“We [have] a women’s self-defense class called R.A.D through the PE department,” Twaites said. “We just talk about how to properly handle your guns [and] how to store them if you have them.”

CWU has also created an educational safety video on what to do in the case of an active shooter on campus, which can be found on the CWU website.