Aviator News

What happens now? America after Parkland

By+Lorie+Shaull+via+WikimediaCommons
By Lorie Shaull via WikimediaCommons

By Lorie Shaull via WikimediaCommons

By Lorie Shaull via WikimediaCommons

Kathleen Catamisan, A&E Editor

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On the 14th of February, America was rattled by a senseless act that took 17 young and beautiful lives. In Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, 19 year old Nikolas Cruz went on a rampage of terror. Armed with a semiautomatic rifle, Cruz went on to kill 14 students and 3 teachers, injuring countless more.

 

It’s nearly been a month since this atrocious act happened, but what has changed? As sad as the following fact may sound, it is true. Mass shootings aren’t new to America. We have suffered through the tragedies at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sutherland Springs, San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, and Orlando all in the past 20 years. These mass shootings are just to name a few; there have been much more, taking lives that were not ready to go. But what have we done? For the longest we have sent our “love and prayers to ______”, filling out the blank as years go on. Talks of reform go on and are never passed. It then fades away into history, and was just another headline until the next shooting happened. But Parkland…Parkland has been different. Led by a wave of teenagers, a movement rises, determined to make sure tragedies like this never happen again. The #NeverAgain movement was created only days after the shooting. It is led by teenagers Cameron Kasky, David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Sarah Chadwick, and Jaclyn Corin. These teenagers have garnered the attention of the nation by calling out the President, the NRA, and elected officials. Taking to various social media platforms, they spread their message and looked for support. Then, students at other schools organized protests and walkouts. Talks of visiting the state capitol took place. The movement started forming. A huge march, “March for Our Lives”, is planned in Washington on March 24th. The fearlessness of these teenagers opened and pressed topics that were always brushed to the side. They yelled for gun control and called out the NRA. They called out the President and their state officials. They are not giving up any time soon.

 

One of the main agendas of the Never Again movement is to push for gun control. For many people, those two words are enough to start a huge debate. Gun control is a complex debate between the Republicans and Democrats, and has never been agreed upon. In our US Government classes, we learn about the Bill of Rights, which protect our rights as citizens. In it, the second amendment protects our right to bear arms. The regulation of guns vary on a state by state basis. Many states are strict on who can obtain a gun, while others are more lenient with their gun laws. These teens are calling for stricter laws on guns, and I agree with that same idea. I do believe that we have the right to carry and possess a gun, but I believe that it should not be easy to obtain one. Mental health checks and tests on guns should be required. But these are things that the government does not want to speak upon. It causes huge disagreements between Republicans and Democrats, who in the end, leave the topic unsolved. Gun control needs to change, and it needs to happen now. It is needed to prevent even more acts like Parkland. It is needed to protect the lives of innocent children and people. At this point I am still surprised that this issue has not been solved. You would think that stricter gun laws would be implemented after the massacre of first and second graders at Sandy Hook, but nothing has changed. Politicians aren’t willing to talk about the subject, and this is one thing that the leaders of the Never Again movement realized. They realized that some politicians are being paid by the NRA, and if they push for gun control, they will lose campaign money. Why do we live in a place where the people that are supposed to represent us won’t? Why is the funding they receive more important than the lives that are on the line? Why?

 

Instead of pushing for stricter gun laws, many have suggested alternate plans. One of the biggest plans is arming teachers. I do not agree with this plan. A teacher’s job is to teach students, not protect them. That is why we have police and firemen. Schools are supposed to be safe places, if anything a refuge from guns. I would not feel comfortable walking down the hallways and into classrooms knowing that there are guns with every single teacher. Other plans include raising the age of buying a firearm from 18 to 21 and banning bump stocks.

 

This issue of gun control and mass shootings is not something that doesn’t apply to us. It can be a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Interested in what our Aviators have to say, I asked a couple students and a teacher on what they think about the issue.

 

Mr. Launius, US Government/Economics/Anthropology Teacher

 

Q: Do you believe that teachers should be armed?

I do not believe teachers should be armed, even if they are highly trained.  While I would be OK with having armed guards at school whose primary purpose is protecting students, teachers’ primary concern should be educating.

Q: Do you think there are any alternative ways to solve this epidemic of mass shootings in America?

Short of making schools exactly like a prison, it is impossible to prevent all shootings.  However, it is possible to minimize the likelihood with logistical changes. For example, having a choke point where there is only one way into and out of a school combined with armed guards, metal detectors, cameras and a buzzer system.  Given that it is still impossible to prevent shootings, we should probably try to understand and defeat the causes, which is not a simple discussion and is beyond the scope of the question that was asked.

 

Angela Valadez, 12th Grade

 

Q: Do you believe that teachers should be armed? Would you feel safe if you see a teacher holding one?

I believe teachers shouldn’t be armed because I would not feel comfortable having guns in a learning environment. Schools should be safe places for both teachers and students and having arms on campus is a dangerous safety hazard. I think at this point in society, there shouldn’t be guns anywhere near or inside schools in general.

Q: Do you think there are any alternative ways to solve this epidemic of mass shootings in America?

I think this epidemic can be solved by improving background checks and banning assault weapons. Having tighter gun control laws will ensure that people who are mentally stable and fit are given the responsibility of handling guns.

 

Flavio Avila, 11th grade

 

Q: Do you believe that teachers should be armed? Would you feel safe if you see a teacher holding one?

I don’t think that teachers should be armed. If there were to be a threat on campus, I believe that it would be hard for a teacher to stop the intruder because of the stress and anxiety in the situation. There’s just too many emotions and pressure in that situation, and a gun would probably not help it become any easier. I also wouldn’t feel safe if I saw a teacher holding a gun in the classroom.

Q: Do you think there are any alternative ways to solve this epidemic of mass shootings in America?

Making it harder to get a gun is a place where we can start. Having mental health tests and tests on how to use a gun is also another thing that we can implement. Access to guns shouldn’t be as easy as showing up to a store, buying one, and walking out with it. 

 

Jackeline May, 10th grade

 

Q: Do you believe that teachers should be armed? Would you feel safe if you see a teacher holding one?

Teachers should not be armed. It would be hypocritical to solve the problem with mass shootings with the cause itself. Not only that, but the teachers themselves could be suffering from mental illnesses and one situation can trigger a tragic scene. Personally, I would feel uncomfortable knowing there is a weapon in the room given there is always a possibility of someone gaining access for misconduct behavior.

Q: Do you think there are any alternative ways to solve this epidemic of mass shootings in America?

This epidemic can be solved by ensuring those who carry guns to have full background checks and undergo mental health tests. To prevent mass shootings in schools, security should be tighter and perhaps have more psychologists and counselors to prevent troubled students to strike against schools.

 

Anonymous, 9th grade

 

Q: Do you believe that teachers should be armed? Would you feel safe if you see a teacher holding one?

I wouldn’t want teachers to be armed and also wouldn’t feel safer if they were. As a matter of fact I would feel even less safe.

Q: Do you think there are any alternative ways to solve this epidemic of mass shootings in America?

To prevent school shootings I think gun control needs to be more strict. Guns shouldn’t be accessible to teenagers at all.

 

At the time of this article being written, Governor Rick Scott of Florida signed a bill into legislation. This bill raises the age of purchasing a firearm from 18 to 21, and if agreed to, teachers can be armed. The NRA has said that they will be seeking to sue Florida for passing these laws. Only time and action can tell what will happen. Will other states start to follow suit? Will the federal government step up and address this issue? Hopefully America can solve this issue and provide a future where we are not afraid to go to school.

 

*If you are interested in reading an Op-Ed on why events like this happen, this article shares a problem that most people tend to overlook. It shows a heartbreaking reality, and is a problem among modern society that needs to be addressed.

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What happens now? America after Parkland