Wednesday, February 21, 2018

School Shootings: A millennial norm

By: Maisie Stout
Many people are having trouble coming to terms with the fact that school shootings are now a norm in our society. If recent events have proven anything, school shootings are far from being over. Yet, an article published by USA Today entitled “School shootings are not the new normal” begs to differ.
       “Of course, I don’t mean to minimize any of the one-per week on average school shootings, but they should not be conflated with the most deadly but rare events. Unfortunately, most readers and viewers don’t appreciate the distinction when statistics including non-fatal school shootings are cited whenever there is mass killing at a school,” states the article by James Alan Fox.
         As a teenager, I would be terrified if someone brought a gun into our school whether they ended up shooting someone or not. While this article focuses on the misleading facts that people like to jump to, it does not do much to validate all the deaths that have occurred on school grounds across the United States. The point of school shootings being the norm is not that a lot of school shootings where multiple people die occur, it is that no gun should ever be brought into a school ever. It is a scary time to be a student when schools are not safe and the government does nothing to make it better.
         As millennials, we grew up in the shadow of Columbine, the first real school shooting worthy of noting. Thirteen people died that day in April of 1999. Most high school students today were not born yet, or were just being born. Our parents could not have predicted that we would grow up learning what to do in code red drills and how to defend ourselves against attackers.
Many other school shootings occurred after that, but none were as impactful in millennial lives as Sandy Hook Elementary. That day, 27 people died, most of them under the age of 10. Ten-year-olds dying because of what? Mental illness? Guns? Video games? We can accuse the person and not the gun, or vice versa, but that will not change the fact that 27 people died that day.
Flash forward to the year 2018, where we were not even three months into the new year when catastrophe struck. A 19-year-old male went into a high school with the sole purpose of murdering as many people as he could with an assault rifle. Speculations have risen that he had a troubled past. He is said to have been bullied by his peers. His mother died last November. No matter the justification, there is nothing- home life, mental illness, bullying-  that excuses an act this profound. People struggle with these issues every day without becoming murderers. Students should not have to live in a world where they are scared to go to school, and our government should be doing something to solve the problem.
But what really can be done to prevent school shootings? In a rational government like so many others in the world, a ban on guns would suffice. Even a ban on only semi-automatic guns would stop the slaughtering of so many people at once. After a violent massacre in Port Arthur, Australia, the Australian government put in place many restrictions and policies for owning guns. These restrictions reduced gun violence in Australia by over 50%. So, it is not impossible to have successful gun control, but it may be more difficult for the U.S.
        Not only does the U.S. have a constitutional right to bear arms, it has over 270 million guns distributed throughout its population. There is also the National Rifle Association that makes sure to step in after any gun violence incident to remind lawmakers of that fact. Based on our current legislators’ lack of action, a lot more people will have to die before our government even thinks about banning assault weapons. Although, the survivors of the Florida shooting are certainly making their voices be heard by everyone and even directly addressing President Trump on the issue. These are the same victims who are speaking their minds on Twitter by slamming critics, organizing groups to perform demonstrations like “March for Our Lives,” all while attending their classmates’ funerals. This group is planning a nationwide student walkout on March 14, with hopes that teachers and students will all walkout of school for 17 minutes starting at 10 a.m. to show respect for the 17 people that died in Florida this year. Other groups are also planning nationwide walk outs, like the one set for April 20th, the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School.
While it is unlikely that these walkouts will influence anyone in government today, it is still important to stand up for what you believe in. If you agree with other students throughout the nation, you can participate in the walk outs or contact your state representatives and tell them what you would like to be done. Our generation may not be old enough to really understand the shady morals of the government, but we are tired of being put in harm’s way. It is time for change.


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