Another school shooting? Maybe I should repeat that a little slower: Another. School. Shooting. According to a Feb. 15 article on CNN, this is the eighteenth school shooting of 2018. Forty-five days into a new year and thousands of students have witnessed life-changing events.
Is it now normal for kids to walk home and talk at the dinner table about how they survived a shooting? This is not normal. This should never be normal.
With the news of another school shooting, Sandy Hook Elementary School comes back into my mind. Twenty children between the ages of six and seven and six educators lost their lives on Dec. 14, 2012. When Representative Jim Himes was speaking to CNN he said that since Sandy Hook “we [Congress] haven’t done a damn thing.”
One response the country begins to hear is “we need to arm our teachers.” As the National Rifle Association’s executive VP and CEO Wayne LaPierre said: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This is not a solution. Taking a life is never easy for any sane person. Therefore, arming a teacher with a weapon is not an answer. Their job is to teach life, not take it away.
In America, we can no longer watch a movie in a theater, go to school, a nightclub, a concert or a store without looking for the exits. When was the last time you felt completely safe in these situations?
An experience of my own: every year I take my little sister to see Disney on Ice. She pretends for two hours that she “loves” Disney, while I sit in my glory because I’m the Disney fan. During the second act, the show stopped. All the dancers and actors went off stage and nothing was said to the crowd attending the show. I had never been so scared in a situation. I thought to myself, “I got to get her out of here. We have to go.” What made me feel a little calmer was the mom next to me felt the same way. After about a five-minute span, the show continued, but the mom next to me left because her anxiety was more than she could handle.
We shouldn’t have to worry, but we do. Our President tweeted on Wednesday, Feb. 14, “My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” But the President’s actions when he first stepped into office say otherwise. We as Americans, as students and as voters demand action, not just another apology.
During President Obama’s final year in office, he wrote an executive order making gun laws stricter for Americans with mental health issues. The Social Security Administration would release information on patients with mental health problems that receive Social Security benefits. This would help with background checks when mentally ill people would try to buy guns. (For more information check out politifact.)
When our newly-elected President made his way from the Capitol to the White House, he reversed that executive order, making it easier for people with mental health problems to obtain a gun. What will it take for stricter gun laws? A teacher from the Florida shooting said the “government failed them today.” The New York Times reported that since Sandy Hook over 400 students were shot in a school-related incident and 138 were killed.
As we have seen over the past few weeks, students have stood up and demanded action. With the movement “Everytown For Gun Safety,” which was established after the deadly shooting in Sandy Hook, the students from Parkland High School are pushing this movement forward and the momentum is stronger than ever.
If these students don’t get action, they will soon vote. If that doesn’t work, they will run for office.
Noelle Race is a student at West Chester University. ✉ NR907046@wcupa.edu.