Editorial: Almost one year later, we still remember the NIU shootings

Almost one year ago, one of the most devastating tragedies to ever strike Illinois occurred.

At 3:05 p.m. on Feb. 14, 2008, 27-year-old Steven Kazmierczak entered a Northern Illinois University classroom and opened fire, killing five and injuring 18 before taking his own life just 10 months after shootings rocked Virginia Tech in a spree that ended 33 lives.

The largest school shooting in American history demanded national attention and called into question the emergency and security responses taken by colleges across the country.

Like Virginia Tech, the NIU shootings left Americans asking, “How could this happen? Why did this happen?”

On a deeper level, the NIU shootings personally affected many Eastern students, as well as many other students throughout Illinois.

Some students had friends who were killed. Some may have had family.

For a majority of Eastern students, the tragedy in DeKalb was much too close to home.

In the past, we watched the violence at Columbine or Virginia Tech in the comfort of our living rooms, thinking there was no way a similar event could strike Illinois.

Yet, the unthinkable happened and recounted those questions we asked after Virginia Tech.

And as always, fingers were pointed.

There are always the basics: Psychologically damaged souls who were driven to violent outrage having been pushed by some outside force.

But whose fault was it? The right-wing politicians who allow Americans to carry guns? Or was it the video games he played? Maybe it was the music Kazmierczak listened to or the movies and TV shows he watched. In that case, maybe the government should place strict regulations on the media.

Sometimes people like to have a culprit for the source of society’s ills, but oddly enough, pass up the deeper psychological issues faced by the subject in favor of something tangible on which to cast lots.

Regardless of what or who caused the tragedy, we must look at why and how it happened so we can gain a better understanding of it and try our best to ensure these types of things never happen again.

Eastern and Illinois lawmakers have already passed numerous measures – such as the text messaging service Alert EIU!, the Campus Security Enhancement Act which went into effect last month and the upcoming active shooter drill on Feb. 20 – to help uphold campus security, assuring our students it won’t happen.

But as time goes on, we must always bear in mind the events that led to these tragedies.

For the sake of future generations, we must always keep their safety in mind or they will suffer the same tragedies we have.

The editorial is the majority opinion of The DEN editorial board. Reach the opinions editor at: [email protected].