Former Madison resident Brian Campbell pleaded no contest Feb. 15 to second-degree reckless endangerment and explosive possession charges. Last year, authorities raided his apartment and found dangerous chemicals, all of which were common in bomb manufacturing.
While it has yet to be proven, Assistant District Attorney John Rice said Campbell downloaded videos explaining how to create explosives. According to news coverage of the incident, “Campbell also drew maps that represented the tunnels between buildings on the University of Wisconsin campus. The maps had specific locations circled. Rice wrote Campbell mapped out enough of the underground tunnel system to have easily planted an explosive there.”
While he has not officially been charged with this, and Campbell’s attorneys dispute this claim, the mere thought of this attack is horrific.
It’s horrific because of the relative ease of the process, particularly in acquiring the ingredients. According to an article published by The Guardian after the deadly Manchester Attack in 2017, “security specialists agree it is easy to find step-by-step instructions on the internet on how to make a bomb in a kitchen using ingredients easily available on most high streets.”
If bombs appear too complicated, then those who wish to do harm to others can always use a firearm, a weapon incredibly easy to wield.
This piece should not be mistaken for a strawman against the “they want to take all our guns” argument. I don’t believe that would ever be a realistic solution. Furthermore, the idea that Democrats really want to take all guns away from the public is incredibly misinformed.
With that being said, I struggle to understand the logic of why anyone would be opposed to increasing the rigidity of background checks. Perhaps a psychological analysis should be necessary before owning a firearm, so as to prevent a mentally unfit individual from wielding a weapon.
The overwhelming majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens who have never misused or even considered using their weapon for any reason other than self-defense. Given that most gun owners have no intention of carrying harm to others, a few days of waiting before taking home one’s gun really shouldn’t be an issue.
Just because a mass shooting hasn’t happened for a few weeks doesn’t mean it won’t happen again, so long as the underlying rules remain the same. As terrifying as it is, there are many places here on campus which thousands of students walk through on the way to class.
Students should be concerned about doing well on midterms or turning assignments in on-time, not whether they’re going to be the victims of a random violent incident. UW was lucky — we should be grateful that tenants in Campbell’s building realized something was wrong, and we should be thankful the Madison Police Department was able to keep everyone safe.
Everyone on both sides of the political aisle can agree that a mass killing under any circumstances is horrific. We have to offer something more than thoughts and prayers. While there must be time to mourn the loss of those who were cruelly taken from this world, there must also be time for action.
According to Education Week, an independent news organization that covers news related to K-12 education, there were 114 deaths or injuries that occurred from school shootings last year.
How many times must America go through this routine? It starts with a tragedy, then evolves into overwhelming demands for action. As time passes, the rest of us move on and nothing changes. Then it’s back to tragedy.
This cycle is alarming and disheartening, and it needs to end. This will require pragmatic solutions to deal with incredibly complex situations. As the old saying goes, the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one. In the case of mass killings and violence, especially in America’s schools, I’d amend that statement by saying the first step in solving the problem is to not forget you have one.
Mitch Rogers ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in economics.