Heading to college, school shooting survivor says lawmakers need to address mental health issues

Ohio Statehouse Newsroom

When Logan Cole walked into the bathroom at West Liberty-Salem High School on January 20, 2017 he came face to face with a classmate wielding a shotgun.

Cole was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the back. His body was peppered with nearly 100 lead pellets some of which are still inside him today.

After he was shot, Cole says he convinced the student not to harm himself or anyone else keeping him in the bathroom until school officials arrived.

It wasn’t until he was at the hospital that Cole started to think about how what had happened to him would affect his life moving forward.

Cole survived the shooting and with several surgeries was able to return to school, graduate and was accepted at Cedarville University where both his parents attended and where his sister was attending on the day he was shot.

Friday, Cole moved into his dorm on campus and took some time to talk about what happened, and about how he feels about gun legislation at the Ohio Statehouse.

He didn’t know the specifics of the bills being worked on by lawmakers but did share some general thoughts about the topics they cover.

One of the bills is based on a series of recommendations that Governor John Kasich’s bi-partisan taskforce came to an agreement on earlier this year.

Among those six measures was one that creates what is commonly referred to as a Red Flag Law, where someone who is a danger to themselves or others can have their guns taken from their possession until such a time when they are no longer a danger.

This particular piece of the bill has been a sticking point for some of lawmakers and has delayed the bills movement through the legislative process.

The delays have begun to register remarks from the Governor’s Office.

Jon Keeling, a spokesman for the Governor released a statement recently that reads in part:

“Earlier this year a bipartisan coalition of state leaders from both sides of the gun issue—including former legislators—came together to develop a consensus package of sensible reforms to reduce gun violence in Ohio.  Those reforms were recommended to the General Assembly where they were introduced and had hearings in both the House and Senate. The governor supported the reforms, worked with the General Assembly to find common ground and waited patiently for the legislative process to work, but in the end politics won the day and no action was taken.”

When asked what he thought about that, Cole prefaced his response by reminding us that he did not know the specifics of what was in the bill before urging for a careful consideration of the bill.

“Who decides if somebody’s dangerous? I think that’s something that really needs to be considered,” said Cole. “I think just be careful with what you make because it could be used in the wrong way.”

Part of his reasoning behind this also connects with his experience with the student who shot him in that bathroom.

“There was nothing that I could tell from what I knew of him that would be pointing toward what he did,” said Cole.

The young man would go on to explain that while he didn’t think arming every teacher was the right path, putting a gun in the hands of those willing to undergo the proper training on how to use them may be worth looking at.

“I think that if the situation hadn’t died down in the bathroom, and he would have continued what he planned on then I think an armed adult definitely would have been helpful,” said Cole.

Still, Cole didn’t need a gun to talk the gunman down. According to him, years of being taught by his parents to solve problems with love helped him reach the other student.

After 17 people were killed in Parkland, Florida earlier this year several people in and around the Statehouse said, yes but that’s not here; it didn’t happen in Ohio.

But Ohio schools are not immune to shootings. In 2012 a gunman killed three people at Chardon High School and just last year Cole nearly died at West Liberty-Salem.

It is incumbent on those in power to put in place frameworks to protect Ohioans of any age from further acts of gun violence if they wish to retain that power.

Kasich, who is approaching the end of his gubernatorial road, is trying to get that done according to Keeling.

“He believes that the next piece of gun-related legislation that he signs needs to be the package of common sense reforms that has been introduced and which will provide valuable tools to reduce gun violence,” said Keeling.

As for Cole, when asked what he thinks needs to happen to keep kids safe in Ohio’s schools he said, “Mental health is a big issue and I think that is something that needs to be dealt with or changed.”

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