Students are the future. By waking up every morning, going to school, and educating ourselves, we are preparing to become tomorrow’s doctors, teachers, policemen/ women, and government officials. As seen through the prevalence of mass shootings in our nation today, there is a clear societal routine forming. There are people choosing to express their opinions and beliefs through violence. In our government, there is a lack of urgency towards preventing these shootings that are putting our students at risk. The United States should be critically examining the possibility of national gun control laws to protect our students and our future.
Gun control is an issue over which states have the freedom to individually interpret the Second Amendment. However, the pain caused by gun violence is not confined to a single state. It is a national cause of suffering. As a student, I fear the possibility of a shooting every day. At school, I am aware of the 17 students and teachers murdered in Parkland, Florida in February 2018 (“Gun Control Laws”). Ramapo Senior Olivia Day says, “ People and children are dying. This needs to be fixed before the lives of more people are taken away. It’s as simple as that.” At yoga class, I think of the two women shot dead and the five injured at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, FL in November 2018 (Zaveri et al.). At church, I grieve the 11 murdered at their place of worship in Pittsburgh, PA in October 2018 (“Gun Control Laws”). These shootings are methodical and intentional acts of violence upon innocent members of society.
Despite the glaring evidence of this growing American epidemic, students are still paying the ultimate price for the government’s hesitation. Within seven days this month, there was a school shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the STEM School Highlands Ranch in Denver, Colorado. In the span of one week, fifteen innocent people were rushed to the hospital, resulting in three students dead. However, this trend of shootings are becoming so often, and students are beginning to feel responsible to assume the role as hero since no other protection is being provided. As a result, a student-victim at both schools reportedly dove towards the gunman’s bullet in order to save the lives of their own classmates. These student-heroes who should be here with us today have inspired bravery and courage, and we remember their death in honor as a sacrifice for their community. The body count of innocent people who have experienced a mass shooting continues to rise in our country, and changing the laws that protect guns should be imposed to instead protect our people.
Mississippi has the most permissive gun laws and the highest number of firearms recovered and traced back to their state, totaling 4,462 firearms. These weapons traced back to Mississippi were found across 41 states and involved in crimes such as drugs, homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, and family offense (United States, Congress, U.S. Department of Justice). Our country has tried to address gun violence on a state level, but states with laws similar to Mississippi make progress difficult. National gun control measures could prevent the widespread affect one lenient state has on the nation.
Opponents of gun control often argue that gun violence is the fault of individual perpetrators, not the weapons themselves. Supporters of the Second Amendment claim burdening gun owners with more regulations would “do nothing to stop mass shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida.” They emphasize that the shooter passed a background check and “had not been judged mentally incompetent” thus allowing him to purchase rifles (“Gun Control Laws”). Despite this circumstantial evidence towards the ineffectiveness of background checks, their argument does not relate to the actual issue. The issue is, at the hand of guns and those wielding them, and innocent people are being murdered. Opponents of gun control assert that Americans are being stripped of their “right to defend themselves,” and if the government adopted policies for “law-abiding Americans to arm themselves,” this would “stop would-be mass shooters” (“Gun Control Laws”). I argue that more guns means the potential for more people, possibly students, injured in the crossfire.
Gun safety laws are imminently important for all Americans. It was not a political decision for my church to install bulletproof doors as a security measure for their elementary school: the decision was based upon observed acts of violence in this nation. It is concerning that my small church identified the need for additional protection before our government. There is hope for the United States to come together in the way my church community did to help protect its members. This is a strong example that a country can unite in their efforts to protect their citizens.
Gun violence is a growing issue that will continuously spread throughout the nation. When people have malevolent intentions and the means to execute them, there will be no peace until action is taken. In the time that this nation has focused on other issues, gun-related crimes have become more frequent and more deadly. Students must continue to voice the need for gun control to solve gun violence today, instead of remedy mistakes tomorrow. We are the ones designing the future. Let’s ensure we live to see it.
Featured Image: High school student decorates modern graduation cap honoring school shooting victims (Photo courtesy of Yahoo.com)
By: Nicole Stark, Staff Writer