On School Shootings: A Message About Gun Control | Teen Ink

On School Shootings: A Message About Gun Control

September 4, 2018
By kiesann21 BRONZE, Issaquah, Washington
kiesann21 BRONZE, Issaquah, Washington
2 articles 0 photos 5 comments

In the wake of the tragedy we saw in the horrific shooting earlier this year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, we must reconsider the values we hold dear to today’s society. How twisted is it that one minute, children were learning, safe in their classrooms, laughing, talking, enjoying Valentine’s Day--and the next bodies lay on the ground, screams and sirens filling the air? How twisted is it that our nation’s youth has grown up with the ever-present shadow of gun violence looming over their schools--that many cannot feel safe in their classrooms? When I read of the shooting, for the rest of that afternoon, I’ll be perfectly honest: I was terrified. I was scared to go to school the next day, because I was afraid that a shooting, just like Florida’s, would manifest in my own high school. I was afraid that I would be killed, just by going to what should have felt like a safe place, a learning place.

Going back further, this incessant fear of being shot has been so ingrained within me that since I was little I have been afraid of crowded places, a fear that has only intensified in recent years. A memory I may never forget happened when I was nine. I was sitting in the living room, blithely playing with my toys, completely unaware of tragedy, when I turned and saw the look on my mom’s face. She was utterly horrified as she stared, almost transfixed, at the television screen. I turned to look at it myself, and saw the stark words ‘Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting’ flashing across, a zoomed out video of a school not much different from my own displayed as sobbing children and parents streamed out of the building. Then, as if waking from a daze, my mom noticed my gaze. “Don’t watch that,” she hurriedly said. But I kept looking. And slowly, I began to understand what had taken place. It felt so surreal, so terrifyingly wrong. There could not be twenty kids, even younger than me, shot dead in their school. Something like that only existed in books, in movies I would never watch. Something like that could never happen to me.

But as I’ve grown older, this has become more and more a reality. The frequency of school shootings in America has only increased since Sandy Hook, coming to an average of about one school shooting a week as of May 2018. It’s become such a normalcy, such a given fear, that one Friday my entire high school went into lockdown because a student had mistaken a man holding a black umbrella for a gunman. Such paranoia and assumptions indicate the state our nation is in; such an assumption would not have been made if the horrifying idea of school shootings was not looming over many students’ minds. It is a common theory of psychologists that we see what we expect to see; so is it not incredibly disheartening that a student’s brain could so easily jump to the conclusion of seeing a gunman? That school shootings have become so normalized that we expect to see a gun? To be perfectly frank, I was frightened, but not entirely surprised when I received word that we were having a lockdown for an alleged gunman. With the new “run, hide, fight” training schools have implemented, the absurd talk of arming teachers, and the almost daily news reports of shootings across the country, the idea of school shootings anywhere has become not only a constant fear but an unavoidable reality.

And that’s why we need change. Better, more thorough background checks; banning or at the very least heavily restricting the sale of assault rifles and bump stocks, devices that can convert a semi-automatic firearm into a nearly automatic weapon. Because right now, in today’s America, acquiring an assault rifle or bump stock, with the capacity to fire 30 or more bullets without reloading, is quicker and easier than acquiring birth control pills. Easier than getting a driver’s license. Easier than getting a pet dog.

Because, of course, dogs are so much more dangerous than an assault rifle.

A reporter from the Philadelphia Local News timed how long it would take her to get an AR-15, the same weapon used in both the Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the Florida Pulse Nightclub shootings, as a message to lawmakers. The results were shocking: seven minutes. Seven minutes were all it took for a person to get their hands on one of the deadliest weapons in all of history. As the reporter so chillingly put it, “it likely will take more time than that during the forthcoming round of vigils to respectfully read the names of the more than 100 people who were killed or injured.”

Gun right advocates conversely ask for their constitutional right to bear arms, complaining that lawmakers want to take away their self-defense guns. But let me ask you: does an assault rifle that can kill or injure 100 people in a matter of minutes sound like self-defense? I do believe in being able to protect oneself. But when America’s beloved weapon is something so dangerous it has been repeatedly used as a mass-murder weapon, we need to draw the line. No one should be able to so quickly and easily hold the power to kill normal civilians. It’s barbaric. It’s disgusting.

So now, let us raise our voices. Us, the teenagers, who must go to our own schools every day. Us, who see the news reports of school shootings and wonder what our world is coming to. Us, who live in an era of fear and violent mass murder.

Because it is us who will live as adults in the now-violent world given us. It is us who must make change. And it is us who will hopefully see that change in a better, assault-rifle-free tomorrow.


Sources:

“Bump-Stocks: How They Make Guns Fire Full-Auto, and Why They're Legal.” The Trace, The Trace, 3 Oct. 2017.

Moore, Ernest E. “Opinion | The Parkland Shooter's AR-15 Should Never Have Been Legal.” NBCNews, NBCUniversal News Group, 15 Feb. 2018.

 

Ubinas, Helen. “I Bought an AR-15 Semi-Automatic Rifle in Philly in 7 Minutes.” Philadelphia Local News, Sports, Jobs, Cars, Homes.

Wisner, Wendy. “15 Things That Are Harder To Obtain Than A Gun.” Scary Mommy, 2 Oct. 2017, www.scarymommy.com/things-harder-obtain-than-guns/.


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