Never Again

Never Again

Allison Vieira, Contributor

In 1999, two teenage boys carried out a planned attack on Columbine High School. These kids were able to buy,  from 2 other friends who were also kids, 2 9 mm firearms and 2 12-gauge shotguns. In addition to these weapons they used YouTube to hand make 99 explosives.  Twelve students and one teacher came to school to learn and teach, but did not return home that day on April 20th 1999. Twenty-four more people were also injured, but even more widespread effects were the scars this massacre left on the approximately 1900 students and staff in attendance. The students and staff of Columbine High School came to school as students, teachers, coaches, but they returned home as victims of  a tragedy that  will stay with  them forever.

This story could be told very similarly for these schools:  Cokeville Elementary School on May 16, 1986,  Cleveland Elementary School on January 29, 1979, Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, and Stoneman Douglas High School on February 18, 2018. Even the day I write this article another shooting has taken place, March 2, 2018 Central  Michigan University was attacked and two people are left dead. I would have to change the name and age of the shooter or shooters. I would have to change the date and name of the school. I would also have the change the number of people dead and injured, but the stories would all end the same.  There are innocent people dead and injured, there are students and teachers shaken for the rest of their lives, and there was a gun involved.

The earliest school shooting known to have taken place was in the colonial era on July 26, 1764, and there have been countless shooting since then. The amount with in each decade is not constant. When looking at the number of school shootings per decade in the 20th and 21 centuries you find a major increase, in 1900 there were 15 shootings, 1910- 19, 1930-9, 1940- 8, 1950- 17, 1960-18, 1970- 30, 1980-40, 1990- 62, 2000- 61, and finally in just the decade 2010 there have been about 142 school shootings. The decade 2010 is not even over yet and here have been more than 2 times the amount of school shooting the decade before. In just 2018 alone there have been nine shootings already and we are only three months in to this year. Gun control is a problem that needs to be addressed and these numbers scream that message louder than ever.

Americans have always had the right to bare arms, and even when guns were more widely used there were less mass shootings so how is gun control an issue? The reason for this drastic increase, I argue, is that once the idea of a crime is known, other people will become so-called copy cats. An investigation conducted by CNN showed that more than 40 people have been charged with Columbine-style plots, and that almost all were white teenage males who had stated that they studied or used the Columbine shooting or the perpetrators as “inspiration”. It can be said that a major cause of the increase of school shootings have been due to a domino “copy-cat” effect, but it doesn’t matter. There is no way to stop the idea of a school shooting from spreading.

There is also no way to stop people from becoming mentally ill, as most people who commit shootings are found to be in some degree. President Trump suggested that “back in his day” mental institutions were more wide-spread and they were more effective. The problem with this is that you cannot lock up anyone that you think is potentially dangerous without evidence that they are. The President made this point, but he did not offer any real solution to it. The government cannot stop people from becoming criminals. That would be controlling people which would inevitably infringe on constitutional rights. Controlling the people who are able to obtain these dangerous weapons is that answer.

As high school students many of us have had to attend Drivers’ Ed and take road lessons. As you were sitting there in a dark room during vacation or late at night, the question “Why am I doing this?” may have crossed your mind. As boring, long, and unnecessary as it may feel, future drivers under 18 have to take 30 hours Drivers’ Ed in the state of Massachusetts, and many other states, because inexperienced drivers can be dangerous to themselves and others. Guns are even more dangerous than cars, yet in many states you do not have to take any course to buy them. Only 20 states have passed more restrictive gun laws since Dec. 14, 2012. To me, it only makes sense that people who want to purchase and keep a gun should take courses on gun safety, show that they have not been charged with any DUIs within a certain amount of time, meet requirements in term of mental health condition, and have proof of a means of securely storing their weapon. There are probably more requirements that should be met that experts could come up with to ensure that the person handling this weapon is responsible. It is important that the process of purchasing a gun requires a certain amount of time and money; this is because a person who wants to quickly get their hands on a weapon to use it for harming others will mostly likely not meet requirements, but may not even try in the first place. The system put in place should weed out the people who responsibly use weapons from those who do not.

To me this seems like a simple solution. A necessary solution. The students of Douglas High School have been using their voices and calling for change. They have set up marches and walkouts. Emma Gonzalez met with Dana Loesch, a defender of the NRA, forcing the politicians who have done nothing in terms of gun control to see the harsh truth and answer the tough questions. These students such as David Hogg, Sarah Chadwick, and Cameron Kasky have been very active on Twitter spreading their message #NeverAgain and setting up the March For Our Lives. When all they are calling for is protection, people like conservative social media presence, Katie Hopkins, belittle them saying, “we are tired of the shouting”. People have claimed that “children” should not be making big decisions on gun policy.  The problem is that this is not a complicated issue, in some states as a teenager I would have to invest more time and money into getting a driver’s license than into purchasing a weapon. That does not add up in any way.

There are no Democrats or Republicans, there are no conservative or liberals, we are one people when discussing how to keep our schools safe. The March For Our Lives is on March 24th; I cannot wait to see the turn-out. I hope to see students and maybe even staff from this school there as well. By going, you are not saying that you want to abolish the Second Amendment, you are not displaying your political position or party, you are simply showing that you want change. You do not want to see the number of school shootings double in the next decade. You are saying that you remember the ALICE training and how afraid you may have been that you may need to use this. You are saying no more. You are saying Never Again. We see beyond of the world of lobbying and corruption and we see a change in the future. Let that be known.