Students speak: School shootings
May 3, 2023
Recent school safety issues on the forefront of students minds as government officials debate reforms necessary with threats of gun violence on the rise. Two students offer alternating perspectives on the contentious issue, seeking to explore the nuances of these incidents from a student perspective
Student Speak: Recent influx of shootings is a symptom of a greater illness
Perhaps the most alarming statistic of 2023 is the fact that at least 163 mass shootings have occured in the United States—that is more mass shootings than the number of days this year so far. In the first 17 days of April alone, the U.S. endured an upwards of 30 shootings according to the Gun Violence Archive.
School shootings seem to be one of the most prominent and gruesome acts of gun violence in recent years. It should be particularly alarming that shooters continue to find access within the walls of such institutions. Shooters infringe upon the safety of the youth, as children are no longer able to learn and grow comfortably without the feeling of risking their lives.
Equally, while sending their kids off to school, parents are forced to grapple with the possibility that their children will never return home. This grim thought is not one of disillusionment; guns are the leading cause of death for American children and teens, which surpassed car-related accidents in 2020.
As the year of 2020 gave rise to a global pandemic, it also cultivated a ruthless epidemic of gun violence, as the 2021-2022 school year was met with nearly quadruple the average number of fatal firearm incidents from 2013. Many attributed the surge in mass shootings to the pandemic itself, a result of social isolation, economic distress, and general heightened anxieties. Yet the question then arises that although the pandemic has since dissipated, why do issues of gun violence persist?
Florida just recently became the 26th state to enact permitless carry, allowing any individual to carry a concealed weapon without a permit or license. The problem does not necessarily rest in the fact that gun possession is allowed in states—in fact, the concerns that some weapon carriers have for their own and their family’s safety can be justified, particularly in times of such brutality. Even if there are a major handful of responsible gun owners, however, they do not counteract or diminish the detrimental effects of those with less decent intentions.
The true issue is the fact that state governments warrant unmonitored possession, that anyone can simply walk the streets—or into a school—firing a gun without proper training on how to properly control it. A weapon grants the individual significant power, in it resting the lives of innocent civilians, as well as the owner themselves. This power is too often abused. The incidents of 2023 alone are truly the only evidence needed to justify the fact that the U.S. has reached an inevitable point that demands action. Firearm incidents have become a daily occurance. As current laws fail the most vulnerable, the safety of both our children and democracy are in jeopardy.
The government must be more mindful of who guns are being handed to. Of course, it is not this simple: there are alternatives to acquiring a weapon, often in illegal markets. Therefore, eliminating access to authorized gun ownership could create an influx of crimes for the sake of a weapon. While the path to a safer future is not effortless, governments should truly turn to a law that could better supervise gun owners, particularly if it means preventing unwarranted mortalities.
Increasing security in schools is certainly a step toward bettering the safety of schools, which seem to be one of the most vulnerable environments for firearm incidents. However, the governments should also seek to address the recent surge in gun violence at its root. Insufficient safety measures in schools is not the true problem; it is rather the one behind the gun.
Current American children are being raised in a world of fear—afraid to go to school, afraid to walk the streets alone. Now more than ever, it is the responsibility of the government to nurture the future generation, who will one day run this country. Rather than continuing to dig them a hole that they will later struggle to amend, current leaders must act now, to guarantee children at least a glimpse into a brighter future.
Student Speak: Threat of gun violence out of control
Just in the early months of 2023, the United States has gotten no pardon for its recent outbreak of mass shootings, whether it’s in certain public places, university campuses, high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools.
The more these shootings happen in public places, the more terror and fear floods into the spaces Americans pass through every day, making it hard for people to even feel safe in areas they once called home and once seemed like a secure environment. On the other hand, others tend to happen behind closed doors. Some shootings are motivated by personal grievances, but the worst part is others are horrifyingly random. The widespread attention that has been plastered all over the news about these recent shootings, warnings, and threats have created chaos, fear, and uncertainty all over the country.
According to ABC News, on April 10th, it was recorded that there have been at least 146 mass shootings so far this year in the US alone, showing that there have been more shootings than days in 2023 in itself. Those statistics do not even cover the number of threats and warnings that have happened in 2023, leaving students, families, and friends terrified for themselves and others.
Not only have these shootings been slowly spiraling out of control and have slowly been coming to the “norm” with news that we hear in our everyday lives, but also there has been warnings and threats that have spread throughout school systems, creating a hostile and worrisome environment for students, faculty, and family across the country. As it comes to our attention, universities and school districts have been experiencing a dramatic increase in false reports of school shootings and campus threats. Regardless of these false accusations and statements about active shooters in a school area, it’s absolutely repulsive for people even to be joking about such a serious matter in the first place. The more threats and accusations that spike across the US, the more fear it builds for students and faculty to walk into schools on a daily basis.
According to Valleynewslive, Gretchen Hjelmstad talks about Ben Franklin Middle School in Fargo threat in early March of 2023. The principal of the school said that “Red River Regional Dispatch received a call at 9:35 a.m. indicating an active shooter situation was happening at the school. The school initiated emergency response protocols, and the building was checked by law enforcement, who determined there was no threat to the school.” Not only that but also North Highschool “was also put into lockdown at 9:59 a.m. after dispatch audio indicated a man called and said he “was walking into the school with a rifle.”
These are just two out of hundreds of examples of threats and warnings that school systems and universities have been dealing with continuously. Sick people have been finding ways to hack and “prank” schools in the country to create chaos and stir up horror for their own enjoyment. Especially in this day of age, we should not have to worry about our students and faculty not being safe in a school environment and having to worry about our well beings constantly.
As a student myself, it is absolutely heartbreaking to see how so many other high schoolers have been personally affected and traumatized by these recent shootings, especially since school is supposed to be a safe place to learn and socialize. I have had family members that have been affected directly by university shootings and threats and have seen firsthand how one person with a gun can drastically change someone’s life so easily.
Although this is a situation we cannot 100% fix and get rid of, there still needs to be more control towards gun use. Being a student at a school or university today and having to worry about the possible risks of going to school is something that should be taken extremely seriously. Even though we can’t take back the lives that have been lost due to school shootings, we as students can still bring justice to their names and continue to fight for a safer and a more sheltered school environment.