Columbine, 1999. Santee, 2001. Red Lake, 2005. Nickel Mines, 2006. Blacksburg, 2007. Oakland, 2012. Sandy Hook, 2012. University of California, 2014. Marysville, 2014. Parkland, 2018.
These are just a handful of school shootings that have happened over the years.
Growing up, I remember being taught, “Mrs. Blue” drills at school. An administrator would come over the intercom and say, “Mrs. Blue is in the building.” And we would all be ushered into the corner of a classroom as our teacher covered the door, shut the blinds and turned off the lights until it was all clear.
It has almost become normal to hear about school shootings. It shouldn’t be, but it almost has become so. Until recently.
I saw the news alert come through, yet another school shooting. My heart began to ache for those involved. My heart ached for the young lives lost. My heart broke for those who would not be returning home to their families that night.
Within days, students had organized, had started speaking out about gun control. They began urging their governmental leaders to try and understand what it was that was going on, what it was like for them to have to see their friends wounded or dying- all at the hands of a former student.
On February 14, 2018, 19-year old Nikolas Cruz pulled a fire alarm at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School around the end of the day and waited for students to file out. He took aim with his AR-15 and killed seventeen people and wounded fourteen others during his rampage.
Since, students have walked out of classrooms around the country, been interviewed on national news stations, held rallies, and spoken to lawmakers. They are making sure that their tragedy would be the last one.
These students, these world changers, are calling on lawmakers for change. They are asking for an assault weapons ban, one that would not allow your average citizen to have a semi-automatic firearm. They are also calling on the National Rifle Association to change the process of getting a firearm.
This is one of the biggest pushes on lawmakers in recent years to help curb the innocent deaths of people at the hands of others. Last year, the massacre at Las Vegas by a lone gunman, sparked the debate once more, but nothing was done.
Students, while they are the ones raising these questions, are asking themselves, why it is them, innocent children who’s lives were spared by mere chance, are the ones that are having to ask lawmakers to help change.
Parents and students spoke with Republican Senator of Florida, Marco Rubio and addressed their concerns. Rubio’s comments mostly consisted of saying that this war is not on guns alone. Rubio does support the Second Amendment (the right to bare arms) but that he also stands for school safety. When asked directly by a student if he would accept money from the NRA, he said wouldn’t turn down a contribution from them.
An NRA spokeswoman did acknowledge that the system to getting a gun is flawed. Even if someone is on the terrorist watch list, they are still able to obtain a gun legally.
President Trump originally proposed a ban on bump stocks, which is an attachment that allows a semi-automatic rifle to mimic a fully automatic weapons firing capacity. Washington State as of the end of February has since banned bump stocks. Trump also proposed arming teachers with firearms, which was met with a resounding “no” from many in the education field. The response from educators was “We should be armed with more money rather than firearms.”
While students around the country are waiting to hear what Washington DC decides for the fate of schools, Florida has already started working towards minimizing the possibility of another tragedy. Broward County Sheriff, Scott Israel said that all deputies in county schools are going to carry rifles on school grounds. Their deputies will be qualified and trained…[they] will be able to defeat any threat on a school’s campus.” Not every school in the country or world will be able to implement this policy, but for now, Florida is not taking any chances.
As Florence Yared, a 17-year old student of Stoneman Douglas said, “I’m not trying to take away your Second Amendment rights, nor am I trying to eliminate all guns. But we cannot protect our guns before we protect our children. The only purpose of an assault weapon like this is to kill, and to kill as many people as possible. The AR-15 is not a self-defense weapon. It is called an assault weapon. Assault. Think about this word.” For now, we will all be waiting to see the changes that continue to happen in Washington in regards to gun control.