America needs better gun control

Josie Krueger
Entertainment Columnist

According to an ECHO survey, 34.6 percent of the 77 respondents do not feel safe at school, and 65.4 percent do. Graphic by Josie Krueger

According to Wikipedia, a school shooting is defined as “an attack at an educational institution, such as a school or university, involving the use of a firearm(s).”

There were 67 school shootings in 2017 in which a gun was brought to school, while 47 of those shootings involved death or injury– some being supposed accidents, some being suicides and some being attacks on others.

So far in 2018, there have been 29 school shootings in the U.S., 18 of which resulted in death or injury.

This is sickening and unacceptable. Too many students and teachers have been killed for our government to keep ignoring this issue.

Contrary to the ideas of President Donald Trump, arming teachers is an ineffective and problematic way to prevent school shootings.

It is completely impractical to propose teachers go through training to learn how to handle/use a gun or to assume that they are capable of defending a classroom against a school shooter. Not to mention, teachers can have the same mental issues as students, and they could at any point use the guns against the students. No one should assume that, because someone is a teacher, they would never cause harm to their students if they had access to a gun in the classroom.

An anonymous student said, “Seeing my teachers with guns would make me feel unsafe going to school.”

Another student said, “School should be safe without the people who teach us skills and life lessons having to be armed.”

Although there is no definite way to end all school shootings, there are effective ways to prevent them, none of which are ignoring the problem. Unfortunately, the authorities of this country have not realized that ignorance perpetuates the issue.

School shootings can be reduced and prevented through gun laws that raise the minimum age to purchase a gun, outlaw certain automatic and semiautomatic weapons and require stricter and more extensive background checks for those trying to purchase a gun.

Senior Brady Chrisler said, “If you are not old enough to kill yourself with cigarettes, you are not old enough to kill yourself or someone else with a gun.”

It is erroneous to claim gun laws would not be effective in the U.S.. Those who oppose gun control on the grounds that nothing will change should learn about Australia’s National Firearms Agreement. 

Citizens of St. Louis hold signs in support of gun control at the March 24, March for Our Lives. Photo by Ashli Wagner

The National Firearms Agreement was passed in Australia in 1996, imposing tighter registration requirements to purchase a gun and banning certain shotguns and semi-automatic rifles. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of guns were sold or surrendered to the government by Australian citizens. Since 1996, Australia has experienced a 20 percent decline in homicides. This law was passed in the same year as and as a result of a mass shooting in Tasmania in which 35 people were killed.

The U.S. government is too busy protecting the Second Amendment of the Constitution, that it has neglected to protect students and teachers who are trying to give or receive education. The Constitution is supposed to protect all U.S. citizens. Instead it is only protecting the ones killing their fellow citizens.

According to a survey from March 2018, about 35 percent of 77 Webster Groves High School students feel unsafe at school every day. One hundred percent of students, not only in Webster, but everywhere should feel safe at school–no questions asked.

Senior Oliver Chrisler said, “ I feel that this school does its best, but in any school in the nation, I would feel unsafe. It’s the lack of gun control and the sheer ignorance. The purposeful ignorance of people to say that it is not a gun related issue, but it is a mental health issue… It’s not a mental health issue; it’s a gun issue.”

Similarly, Senior Trinity Baker-Simmons said, “No, I do not feel safe at school. I am constantly making plans in my head about what I would do in each of my classes if a school shooting happened. I think about how I would defend myself and what would be the best way to get out alive.”

No one should have to live in fear, especially students trying to make something of themselves in school. They do not deserve to have their future taken away from them. It is long past the time when the government should have addressed this issue. Gun laws are not too much to ask for, and these circumstances will worsen without them.

What people do not understand is that gun control supporters are not trying to ban all guns. They are not opposing deer hunting and the responsible use and handling of guns. However, they are opposed to a teenager having unnecessary access to a semi-automatic military style weapon, especially one like Nikolas Cruz.

Moms Demand Action participates in the March for Our Lives protest on March 24, in downtown St. Louis. Photo by Ashli Wagner

Cruz, the 19 year old who shot 17 of his former Stoneman Douglas High School classmates with an AR-15 was reported multiple times to the sheriff’s office as a potential school shooter prior to the shooting. Numerous other reports went to the sheriff, the school resource officer, and other authorities about his weapons and behaviors throughout two years leading up to the shooting. In Sept. 2017, the blogger “BenTheBondsman” reported to the FBI that Nikolas Cruz had written “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” on his Youtube page.

 

These signs were not missed, they were ignored.

Cruz is being defended on accounts of him being “deeply disturbed” and having “significant mental illness.”

First, why does someone with “significant mental illness,” especially one who had been expelled from his high school for bringing knives on campus, and reported so many times have access to a gun?

Second, why does any regular citizen of the United States have access to the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle? The AR-15 and guns like it are not used for hunting, they are not used for defense, they are used in the military to kill people. This gun was not only used in the Stoneman Douglas shooting, but also in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

The United States is changing internally. The citizens are coming together in realization that something has to be done or else these shootings will not stop, they will increase–that something is gun control. What we need is our own government’s support of this change. That way, we can make the technical changes that might not completely cease school shootings, but will prevent many from happening.

Freshman Miette O’Malley said, “When a parent or guardian drops their child off at school, they shouldn’t have to think this is their last time each time, which many parents will have to bear for the rest of their lives. That’s something you expect going into a dangerous line of work, like a police officer or firefighters, not a student gaining an education.”


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Categories: Op-Ed, Opinion

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