Column: this one hits close to home

Published 11:01 am Tuesday, February 14, 2023

I awoke this morning to yet another mass shooting in the United States.

But instead of being in a town or city I know little about, this one struck me much closer to home for several reasons.

I am once again horrified by the events that took place last night on the campus of Michigan State University and the communities of East Lansing and Lansing. Three Spartan students are dead this morning and five more are fighting for their lives at Sparrow Hospital.

And for what?

At this point, no one knows since the shooter, who took his own life, had no connection to the university. He was never a student at Michigan State, Michigan State never employed him, and at least at this point, he had no connection to any of the eight people that were shot or killed.

This one seems even more bizarre in a world that does not make a lot of sense regarding mass shootings. Hopefully, law enforcement officials will be able to discover a reason for an action that defies logic. Hopefully, they will be able to find out what caused another human being to randomly take the lives of other humans that he did not even know.

Less than two years after the shooting at Oxford High School, Michigan residents are dealing with the devastating news that more young people have senselessly lost their lives before they ever got a chance to live them. It makes me sick to my stomach that this country refuses to address the need for sensible gun laws. It makes me mad that I am writing another column about how the United States would rather hide behind excuses as to why they need more guns than some countries have people and are unwilling to outlaw firearms that can kill so quickly.

I am sick and tired of hearing the lame excuses that if you outlaw guns, only criminals will have them. I am tired of people killing people, not guns. I do not want to hear one more person say what a tragedy this is and how their hearts go out to the families that have had their lives altered forever.

I have no problem with people owning guns. I hunted when I was younger. I understand some people fear for their lives and want to be able to protect their homes and families from those who wish to harm them.

But for those of us who want reasonable gun laws, we only ask that you lawmakers limit access to weapons that kill quickly and with so much devastation. We want assault weapons banned and high-capacity cartridges outlawed. We ask that you allow people a fighting chance should someone decide to go on a killing spree. Having to stop and reload could allow those in harm’s way to escape or the police to take down the shooters.

Is that too much to ask?

Michigan State University is one of my happy places. I have spent a lot of time there over the 40 years of covering sports for Leader Publications. I have covered our local basketball, baseball and softball teams competing for state championships, memorable college football games and even watching some of our local graduates coaching and being key parts of the staff on the Michigan State football teams.

I have even spent some time in and around MSU covering All-Star games in East Lansing and helping pick United Press International All-State teams in Williamston. That happiness was taken away from me this morning. I hope that by the next time I return to Michigan State, I can put Monday’s events in the back of my mind and enjoy the reason I am there.

Another unfortunate side effect of Monday night’s shooting is that when I go out to cover sports again this week, I will be thinking about whether or not today is the day my luck runs out and I either have to race to one of our communities to cover a mass shooting or will I be a part of one at one or our local high schools.

I have been saying this now for more than a decade, “it is now a matter of if, but a matter of when.” That is something I cannot get out of my mind because it seems like we have a mass shooting somewhere in the United States every month.

At some point, this has to stop. We need to have intelligent, responsible, and honest conversations about how we can stop the senseless killing. How can we limit the access of these types of weapons? How can we better address the mental health issues facing our country, some of which play a part in these mass shootings and why can we not have comprehensive background checks?

For now, please keep everyone at Michigan State and in both East Lansing and Lansing in your prayers. It will be a long road to recovery for all those involved, and even for those who were not directly affected.


Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at