/Active Shooter!
SUNY Oswego public justice faculty member Jaclyn Schildkraut, a national expert on mass shootings, recently published “Mass Shootings in America: Understanding the Debates, Causes and Responses,” a reference book that she hopes will prove helpful for anybody researching the topic.

Active Shooter!

SUNY Oswego professor publishes resource book on mass shootings

By Maria Pericozzi

On the 18-month anniversary of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, SUNY Oswego professor Jaclyn Schildkraut got a tattoo.

The tattoo is a heart with a rainbow inside, representing the LGBT community Pulse embraces, and the number 49 for the number of souls lost. It is located on her radial pulse, symbolizing their pulse on her pulse.

“It is a constant reminder of why I do what I do,” Schildkraut said. “Whenever I struggle or feel like I can’t continue in this line of work, I can always look down and know I have 49 people, and countless others, who need me to make a difference. They are always with me.”

Schildkraut was born in downstate New York but grew up in South Florida. She went to college in Orlando for her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, and her master’s degree in applied sociology.

She spent three years in Austin, Texas, earning her PhD from Texas State University in San Marcos for criminal justice. Now, she is an assistant professor for the department of public justice at SUNY Oswego, as well as being a leading expert on mass shootings.

“Florida is where I spent the majority of my adult life,” Schildkraut said. “Since it is where I grew into the person I am today, it is where I consider home.”

When the Pulse shooting happened, Schildkraut said everything changed for her, personally and professionally.

“Despite that my career was on the upswing, my personal life, in some ways, had shifted downwards in that I no longer could compartmentalize my personal feelings when doing my job, because this shooting was so close for me,” Schildkraut said. “Getting the tattoo was a representation of me owning my experience, rather than it owning me.”

Schildkraut started her journey of becoming a national expert on mass shootings more than 10 years ago after the Virginia Tech shooting.

“I really wanted to give back and honor the victims lost that day,” Schildkraut said. “I think now, what is most important to me are the opportunities I have to work with survivors.”

Schildkraut is working on a project focusing on mass shootings, survivors and recovery. She has spent four months interviewing 35 survivors to learn about their experiences in hopes of being able to make policy recommendations for long-term recovery. “I generally have built up friendships with a number of individuals who have been impacted by these events,” Schildkraut said. “I also have aimed to help the broader survivor community.”

Last December, Schildkraut collected more than 2,000 holiday cards for the children who lost relatives, mainly parents, in the Las Vegas shooting. She also collected more than 1,300 cards for them for Valentine’s Day.

Schildkraut teaches a variety of courses, including public justice core curriculum, and electives in homicide, death penalty, theory, crime and the media, and organized crime.

She enjoys teaching the homicide course because she excels in the research area and enjoys teaching the new death penalty course because of the great discussions she has with her students during the semester.

“I have always loved learning and sharing what I know with other people,” Schildkraut said. “One of the things my father instilled in me from a very young age is that if you have knowledge and you don’t share it, then it is a crime and you don’t deserve to have it. I think that statement always has been with me and has led me to where I am today.”

In the future, Schildkraut hopes to continue pushing forward while being a voice and advocate for change, helping survivors and continuing to make a difference.

“In an ideal world, I hope that in 10 years, this country has gotten its act together so that my line of work is no longer needed,” Schildkraut said. “Sadly, I don’t expect that to be the case. I also hope to be continuing to teach and help educate the next generation to carry on when I no longer can.”

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