Florida State shooter identified: How best to protect students?

A gunman opened fire on a Florida State University library packed with students cramming for exams Thursday, raising questions once again about what the US can do to prevent school shootings.

Mark Wallheiser/AP
Tallahassee police investigate the overnight shooting inside the Strozier library on the Florida State University campus in Tallahassee Thursday. Three Students were wounded and the gunman was shot and killed by police officers.

[Updated at 12:55 p.m. ET] A lone gunman infiltrated and opened fire on a Florida State University library packed with students cramming for exams after midnight Thursday, raising questions once again about what the United States can do to prevent school shootings.

Law enforcement officials have identified the shooter as Myron May. Mr. May reportedly graduated from Florida State before attending Texas University's law school.

FSU police officials say they confronted a man on the stairs of the Strozier Library and killed him after he drew a handgun and fired at police. Inside, officers found three injured students, two of whom were taken to the hospital. No names had been released as of 7:21 a.m. Thursday, and police have not yet released a possible motive for the attack.

The attack on what one former student called “the heart” of the Tallahassee, Fla., campus – a research-focused institution with some 40,000 students – shocked and saddened those who were there when the shooter opened fire. Some students barricaded themselves with chairs and tables.

“We heard the gun shots and then … the entire first floor just seemed to go into chaos,” graduate student Alexandra Lauren told CNN. “I’m just more heartbroken than anything else … FSU means a lot to me.”

A seeming litany of school shootings continues to raise questions around the US about how best to protect students and whether college students should be able to carry weapons on campus for self-defense. Most of the 4,400 US colleges and universities currently ban firearms on campus.

The November general election suggested that a country that has increasingly embraced liberalized gun and self-defense laws in the last two decades may be pulling back. Colorado, Maryland, Connecticut, and New York have passed new gun control laws since 2012. This fall, voters in Washington State approved a referendum to add background checks to private gun sales to close the so-called “gun show loophole.” Gun rights proponents have claimed that such laws could ultimately lead to gun confiscation.

Gun control groups have documented dozens of school-related shootings since the December 2012 shooting of 20 elementary school students and six school staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Most recently, a student at Indiana State University shot a fellow student in a residence hall in September; one person was killed and two others wounded by a gunman at a small Christian college in Seattle in June; and four students were killed by a 15-year-old gunman at a Seattle-area high school in October.

Gun rights advocates say the shootings underscore the importance of allowing students to defend themselves against random acts of school violence.

“We shall see what we shall see, but the place where people are most desperately in need of a defensive weapon are those places where self-defense is forbidden,” writes the blogger Stranger on the Extrano’s Alley gun rights blog.

Critics say allowing guns into school spaces will only lead to more shootings in places where young Americans are supposed to feel safe.

"We are too frequently and too often waking up to incidences like this around the country," Tallahassee mayor-elect Andrew Gillum said at the news conference.

Thursday’s library shooting is the second act of gun violence in the span of a few months to affect the campus. In July, FSU law professor Dan Markel was killed at his home with a gun. That case remains unsolved.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.