Gun Culture At Staples

Claire Lewin, Staff Writer

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a non-profit organization dedicated to reforming the gun industry, recently published a list of all the mass shootings in the U.S. since 2005 in which three or more people were injured or killed.

The list was 62 pages long.

But three events on that list—the shootings at Virginia Tech, Aurora, Co., and most recently Newtown, Conn., have brought the topic of gun control out into the hallways of Staples.

“Before Sandy Hook, I didn’t really think much about gun control,” Renee Reiner ’15 said. “But now I have formed an opinion.”

Now people are asking basic questions about gun control: Should Americans have limits on their constitutional right to own guns? What types of guns are okay to have? Do guns even make us safer?

The answers to these questions are not easy to find nor are they easy to agree upon, but now students and Americans alike are demanding answers.



One of the major components of the gun control debate is the Second Amendment, which states, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

“There is a constitutional right to own a gun,” Trevor Penwell ’15 said. “Outlawing guns only prevents good, law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves or hunting.”

Many students identify with Penwell’s pro-amendment opinion, which is also shared by The National Rifle Association, an influential and controversial organization consisting of 4.3 million members who also believe that guns increase safety.

Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, some politicians are even advocating for guns to be put in schools.

According to a Dec. 2012 Huffington Post article, at least five states—Oklahoma, Missouri, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Oregon—have made plans that would allow faculty members to carry guns in schools. However, some Staples students believe that having guns in schools would cause more problems than it would solve.

“I don’t think it is a good idea to give teachers guns,” Nick Moro ’15 said. “That would require people who are untrained and inexperienced with weapons to become proficient with weapons and self-defense training.”

Mat Jacowleff ’15 also sees problems with guns in schools.

“As a student, the classroom environment wouldn’t feel as relaxed or comfortable if you knew that there were guns readily available in the classroom,” said Jacowleff. “Also, how could students trust all of their teachers with guns?”

Another aspect of the gun control debate is whether or not citizens should be able to buy assault rifles.

“I don’t think citizens should outgun police and military,” said social studies teacher Daniel Heaphy. “Handgun or shotgun, they have their uses, but you don’t need an assault rifle.”

Many students agree with the notion that assault rifles are unnecessary, but some would like to get rid of guns altogether.

“We do not need guns in America,” said Joe Badion ’15. “They serve absolutely no purpose and only exist to kill.”

Robin Hurlbut, a math teacher at Staples High School, is one of the many who believe that the Second Amendment is misinterpreted and misused.

“The Constitution was written in such a different time,” said Hurlbut. “If they were writing it now, it would be phrased differently. They aren’t saying, ‘let’s all have guns and blow each other up.’”

A Dec. 19 survey of 141 Staples students revealed that 82 percent of students believe there should be stricter federal and state gun control laws.

“If no one had a gun, then there would be no need for them at all,” said Hurlbut. “Imagine how much safer you’d feel.”



Besides guns themselves, many feel that violence in the media is part of the problem.

“There are many new things in culture that glorify violence,” said Heaphy.

According to the University of Michigan Health System, an average American child will see 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders on television by the age of 18. Viewing television violence also reduces inhibitions and leads to more aggressive behavior, according to the study.

“The more people play violent video games, the more realistic and relevant violence becomes in their lives,” said Jacowleff.

In an article on CNBC regarding the top selling video games of 2012, seven of them were violence-based.



Two of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history took place during 2012, and, now, in 2013, politicians and citizens are faced with the issue of gun control more than ever before, and some viewpoints have changed.

Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” was once solidly aligned with the NRA and received its highest ratings over four terms in Congress, has also changed his opinion on gun control.

“Friday changed everything,” said Scarborough on his MSNBC talk show. “For the sake of my four children and yours, I choose life, and I choose change.”

Although Staples students may not find themselves with a different viewpoint, some seem to have a stronger opinion than ever.

“After Sandy Hook, I have a stronger view on gun control,” said Jacowleff. “You shouldn’t be able to get guns at stores like Walmart.”

For Staples students, shootings and violence is no longer something that can be disregarded. The shooting in Newtown, Conn., turned violence into a reality, rather than something seen on the news.

“The tragedy at Sandy Hook did not directly affect me, though it brought a harsh sense of reality that we do live in a dangerous world where people still hurt and kill each other,” said Christopher McKinney ’14.

Although President Barack Obama has not fully disclosed what he plans to do regarding the issue, Vice President Joe Biden, in an article by MSNBC, ensured the American people that something will be done.

“The President is absolutely committed to keeping his promise that we will act, in a way that is designed,” he said. “Even if, as he says, we can only save one life, we have to take action.”

Until then, it is up to students to make the school environment as safe and comfortable as possible.

“The only thing we can do to make school safe is to be kind to one another,” said McKinney. “If you see someone having a tough time, just reach out to him. It can be as easy as saying ‘hello’.”