Gun violence: Thoughts from a junior

Gun violence: Thoughts from a junior

(This is a student editorial and should not be deemed to be an expression of BCUSD 8 or an expression of Board policy.)

I have the right to attend school without the fear of wondering if the day would be my last because of an intruder.

I have the right to attend school without wondering if there is a threat to my life or to others.

I have the right to go outside without fear of harm.

These are just a few rights that I should have every day when I attend school. I shouldn’t have to fear for my life every day when I walk into school. I am a 17-year-old Junior who is worried if my life is at stake instead of worrying of which college I want to attend after I graduate. This is not what any teenager should think. No student should worry what to do when there is an intruder—they should only worry about their school work.

On February 14, 2018, 17 sons and daughters, friends and siblings, teachers and students, lost their lives to a monster. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida will never be normal again. The students and teachers are now fighting for their rights to make sure school shootings never happen again.

Our joke of a president wants to arm our teachers with firearms to protect the students. This doesn’t solve our issue. On February 28, a well-liked teacher from Dalton High School in Dalton, Georgia, barricaded himself into a classroom and started firing a gun. Students and teachers evacuated the building and no one was harmed.

There are too many school shootings in the United States. One of the earliest school shootings, August 1, 1966, in Austin, Texas, 17 lives were taken with 31 severely injured. This was known as the University of Texas Massacre. This was the first deadliest shooting on a U.S college campus.

On May 16, 1986, Cokeville, Wyoming, A former town marshal and his wife took 136 children and 18 adults hostage at Cokeville Elementary school where they took two lives and injured 74.

On April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, two teenagers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, went on a shooting spree and killed 13 people and wounding more than 20 others before using their own guns on themselves and committing suicide. At the time, the massacre was the worst high school shootings in history. This prompted one of the first national debates on gun control and school safety.

In 1999, six school shootings happened following the Columbine High School massacre. The shooters were looking at Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, perpetrators of the massacre, as inspiration for their own wrong-doings They studied the massacre well enough to recreate the tragedy.

On December 14, 2012, 20 children, ages six to seven, and six teachers, including the principal, lost their lives in Newtown, Connecticut. Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting had sparked another national debate on gun control.

In this new year, 2018, there have been 10 school shootings. The latest one took place on March 2, 2018, the day I decided to write this. In Mount Pleasant, Michigan, at Central Michigan University, two people were shot to death over a domestic dispute.

There are too many lives lost here. And these are just school shootings. There are other shootings at concert events, cinemas, political rallies, etc. Too many people get their hands on these weapons and tear apart families. There needs to be stricter gun control. It is way too easy for someone to get a gun. The federal law prohibits the possession of a handgun or handgun ammunition by any person under the age of 18. There is a loophole to this law. Federal law provides no minimum age for the possession of long guns for long gun ammunition. Therefore, a child of any age could legally possess a rifle or shotgun. Thirty states do not have a minimum age requirement for long gun possession.

Harsher background checks need to be established. Semi-automatic weapons need to be banned for people who don’t have a military background. We could follow the footsteps of what Australia has done with semi-automatic weapons, like the AR-15 that was used in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

A café in a small town of Port Arthur, Australia, a 28-year-old man, armed with semi-automatic rifles, shot and killed 35 people and injured 23. This was the worst mass shooting in Australia’s history. Just 14 days later, new gun laws were proposed and passed by the Australian government. Since the 1996, gun reform, Australia has not had another mass shooting. Gun violence has decreased drastically.

The U.S needs to follow suit of this gun reform. This will help us be a better country with fewer mass shootings like Australia. Students will be able to go to school without fear of having their lives at stake.

Most gun owners are for the 2nd Amendment. Their argument is they want to defend their family if there is any danger. That’s understandable, but they do not need a semi-automatic weapon like an AR-15 to defend their family. That’s unnecessary. My grandfather, for example, owns a pistol, which is locked up, for protection. He is for the 2nd Amendment just to be able to protect himself if someone is trying to hurt him or my grandmother.

The national gun debate right now is not about getting rid of the 2nd amendment. It’s just a about making it harder for anyone to own a gun. To get a gun in Illinois you must go through a series of mental health tests and a criminal background check. But the state does not require a gun safety training. On the application, it doesn’t state a minimum age. That’s a problem.

The application process is supposed to take 30 business days or fewer, but is often longer, as state police acknowledge. The applicant’s information is submitted for three background checks. A federal criminal history check is done through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background System. A state criminal background check is also done. And finally, a database maintained by the Illinois Department of Human Services is mined. The agency’s database is a legislatively mandated repository for information on any person “adjudicated” as mentally defective or having been institutionalized for mental illness within the past five years. The application asks for mental health history dating back five years for the most part, but notes applicants don’t have to report “alcohol abuse disorder.”

Illinois is one of the only three states with a strict licensing requirement for guns. It’s great, but because of this, people go into the neighboring states where there are less restrictive gun laws. Strict gun laws need to be in every state, not just a few.

Gun owners have their rights to bear arms, they have all rights that are stated in the constitution. I, as a student, have the right to attend school without fear of wondering if my life is going to end soon because of a monster.

My rights as a student, who should never be scared for my life, outweigh your right to bear a semi-automatic.