Students have an obligation to get involved in gun safety debate


Amelia Brown ’18

Guns kill people. People kill people. The debate has come up, once again, about why America continues to have shooting after shooting after shooting. I know that it is not just one factor. Guns, mental health, culture, media and individual reasons all contribute to this epidemic. But I know something else. Thinking kills people.

Thinking that it won’t happen in your town. Thinking that someone else is already fighting this fight. Thinking that your government will finally make change on its own. This thinking will let more shootings continue to happen. If we have learned anything from the events at Staples this past week, it is that it can happen anywhere, so we have to fight, because our federal government is not protecting us.

Our school and police department did exactly what was needed to protect us from potentially becoming the next mass shooting. We even have a state government that is leading the way in gun safety. But that is not enough. For some reason, shootings have become a partisan political issue, so while 70 percent of Americans want stricter gun laws according to CNN, there is nothing being done. By demanding action, we’re not just fighting for our lives, we are fighting for the lives of every six year-old, every 14 year-old, every teacher.

It’s hard to say how many school shootings there have been this year. But let’s just look at one database. Education Week’s tracker counts “incidents where a firearm was discharged inside a K-12 school building or facility, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored event, resulting in injury or death of individuals who are not the suspect.” Using this, there were six school shootings in 2018 so far. Sixty-three people killed or injured. That seems like nothing compared to the 18 shootings other organizations tracking gun violence reported. But just one shooting is too many. One child murdered, one teacher sacrificed, one parent afraid is too many.

It is heartbreaking that it took the lives of 17 people to spark this student rebellion: two different marches, countless hashtags and nationwide walk outs are planned for the coming weeks. But much like the student war protesters of the 1960s and ’70s after the Kent State shooting, we can demand to not be ignored.

I can’t tell you what you should be asking our government to do. Some people think that banning bump stocks or tightening background checks or confiscating every AR-15 or allowing the CDC to research firearm related public-health or stopping NRA funding is the answer. I don’t know which it is. But coming together in our school and in our country can only lead to some kind of improvement.

The Parkland shooting was different. The students of Stoneman Douglas High School took the reins of the gun control debate. It is our job to hold the reins too. So, march. Protest. Walk out, sit in or speak up. We can’t let this just pass over and be forgotten in a few weeks like every other time. It’s our obligation to make the future for our kids safe, and that starts by living long enough to get there.

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