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Opinion: My Life Matters More Than Your Gun

The Need for Gun Control
These emergency guidelines should be posted in every Woodside classroom.

One evening, before school season started, I was in the living room scrolling through my phone when a particular advertisement on television caught my attention. It starts off with a child showing off their new backpack for a new school year but quickly escalates into something more, something darker. Various children start explaining how to turn their school supplies into methods of defense against a gunman on campus. In the end, a young girl takes the spotlight silently trying to text her mom while the gunman eventually enters the room. “Back-To-School Essentials” was the name, and never in my life has a commercial felt so real. 

Unfortunately, school shootings aren’t just something we see on TV. They’re a devastating reality that more and more children face. They have become an inevitable reoccurence rather than a possibility. Since the school shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, which was reported as the worst school shooting in U.S. history at the time, there have been more than 320 school shootings and more than 352,000 students have encountered gun violence. With gun violence spiraling out of control, many are looking in various different directions hoping to find an answer on how to prevent more lives from being taken at ages way too young.  

11 states have established new gun restrictions bills, including Washington, Illinois, Colorado, Maryland, Hawaii, Maine, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New York. These newly implemented gun restrictions most commonly include the ban on assault rifles in public areas and imposing more safety regulations such as elevating the age at which someone can attain a gun and more comprehensive background checks. These changes and safety regulations can help start to tackle the issue at hand as they begin to address the issue of people having easy access to weapons they are going to ultimately abuse and exploit. Regulations can move us in a positive direction as we can start to control who is going to be directly responsible for these powerful and destructive weapons. 

People will think that this is an imposition on their right to bear arms brought to them by the 2nd amendment or that this is oppressing their power to carry firearms for self-defense. However, gun control isn’t about the idea of trying to take away someone’s right to self-defense or leisure activities. These restrictions are merely to address the issue of people obtaining firearms who are not ready to be responsible for one. If people are not allowed to legally drink until the age of 21 then why should someone own an AK-47 at the mere age of 18?

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A popular suggestion in response to countering gun violence on campus is to bring more guns into a school environment and have school employees be held responsible for handling them. In fact, the Texas Association of School Boards grants districts the permission to decide “whether the district should employ resource officers, school marshals, or other employees who are authorized to carry firearms.” This was allowed under the Texas Penal Code 46.03.

Now, the proposal of adults being authorized to carry firearms on a school campus might sound comforting to some, but not to me. Trying to fix the issue with what seems to be causing the issue—guns—only seems like we are walking down the wrong path with only more tragedies to come. 

In the last five years, there have been about 100 publicly reported mishandled guns on a school campus. The most common causes of the incidents were adults or teachers leaving their guns in unattended areas, leaving the possibility of the firearm falling into the hands of anyone who is not authorized to be handling the gun, such as a student. What’s the point of having a gun if you’re just going to leave it behind anyways? Adding to this, there was even a report of a teacher who accidentally fired their gun during a safety demonstration. With the goal of trying to protect children, these incidents emphasize how the results could be counter-intuitive and possibly end with an irreversible disastrous result. 

Many teachers also feel that it isn’t a part of their job or necessary to carry a firearm around their workplace. A survey conducted by The Texas Tribune showed that when asked if they wanted to be armed 76% of the respondents replied with “no”. This demonstrates how having armed school employees can also put teachers in a very uncomfortable and pressuring position as they are being held responsible for something they originally did not sign up for. 

In addition, incidents, when armed officials were on campus, didn’t seem to have the desired effect people were hoping for. The tragic occasion of the Sandy Hook school shooting still lives in the minds of many. 26 people were killed including 20 children and 6 staff members. So how did so many casualties arise when the first officer arrived two minutes and 41 seconds later? Well, the officers didn’t discharge their weapons at any point and waited until the gunman took his life to then escort the remaining students and faculty out of the building. 

So where do we go from here when it seems various different perspectives are bitterly divided from one another? How many more lives are we willing to lose before we start to take action against gun violence? I believe it starts with gun control. Gun control paves the way toward a positive pathway. It certainly won’t address all the underlying issues that come with school and mass shootings, but it’s definitely a start. 

For the sake of our young student’s lives, let’s create a safe school environment where they aren’t flooded with endless imaginations that the minute they step onto campus it could be their last. Let’s make it so they can actually enjoy being children and not be concerned with the newest bulletproof backpack that could potentially save their lives against an unwarranted gunman. Let’s come together and fight against gun violence so no more little girls have to wait in a bathroom stall wondering if they’ll ever be able to say “I love you” again to their mom.

This story was originally published on The Paw Print on August 30, 2023.