Gun violence shows need for precautions

Saturday’s shooting outside the Leaning Tower of Pizza illustrates a frightening reality.

Saturday, the University community experienced one sobering reality of living in an urban setting. Outside a bar attached to a student apartment complex, two men engaged in what was essentially a gunfight. Both were carrying firearms, and one was killed. Although neither was a University student, the incident’s proximity to campus and hundreds of students’ apartments made the event especially worrisome.

In this instance, a specific conflict had ensued between the shooters. But stray bullets do not disappear into thin air – just ask the desk staff at Econo Lodge across the street from the crime scene about the hole one left in the hotel’s window. These bullets could easily have caused collateral damage in the form of injured witnesses, and that possibility warrants caution on the part of students.

Obviously, there is an endemic problem with gun violence in urban settings – but simply condemning it on paper is not enough to change that culture. Gun-related homicides are not uncommon in the Twin Cities, but this one hits home because it was so close to home. Students, even when out having fun on a Saturday night, can take steps to make sure they do not end up as collateral damage.

The University Police Department recommends staying mindful of one’s surroundings – perhaps not the first thing on one’s mind while trying to relax but invaluable to safety. Witnesses at the Leaning Tower of Pizza on Saturday said they suspected the perpetrators were carrying guns. If a situation makes you uncomfortable, there is probably a reason. Stay alert: An uncomfortable situation does not mean you must leave, but be aware of potentially dangerous ones. Unfortunately, emotionally charged disputes on an urban campus, especially involving alcohol, qualify as potentially dangerous situations.

It is unfortunate when personal disputes escalate to the level of lethal violence, and those who feel violence is a viable option for resolution are misguided and in need of help. But it is even more unfortunate when uninvolved parties are harmed – and on this campus, it is sadly clear that students must take extra care to stay safe.