School Shooting Epidemic Demands Action

By Katie Bedard
Elm Staff Writer

While students at Washington College live more than a thousand miles away from Parkland, Florida, the fear and heartbreak that came from this most recent shooting could be felt across campus.

At any level of education, no one in the United States is truly safe from an attack. In our lifetime we have watched the senseless slaughter of young adults, teenagers, and even children who were just trying to attend school.

Even as more names are etched onto gravestones, more families left with broken hearts and not enough memories, very little is ever done about our country’s school shooting epidemic. As a student, I feel like legislators care more for assault rifles than their own children and fellow human beings.

Many people are calling for stricter gun laws to end the cycle. Those who oppose stricter gun regulations continue an old argument that these regulations would signal a further loss of American freedom. To them, no amount of new laws can change the amount of violence in this country. In fact, many believe a better solution to guns would be, you guessed it, more guns.

“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said Wayne LaPierre, the NRA executive vice president, back during a press conference following the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Along with this, pro-gun advocates are dismissing the arguments made by the very people who were forced to witness the death of their classmates and teachers. These students have been traveling to the Florida State Capitol in order to demand stricter gun control, such as banning assault rifles.

“The flickers of underage protest this week seemed to augur something new: a coast-to-coast challenge to the idea that the Snapchat generation was too young, too frivolous, for politics,” write Julie Turkewitz and Vivian Yee in the article “With Grief and Hope, Florida Students take Gun Control Fight on the Road” from The New York Times.

To say that these students are too young to know what’s good for them and their future is pretty insulting, especially given that most of these students lived through the attacks on their friends and teachers directly. They’re not the stereotypical special snowflakes that GOP lawmakers tend to mock, the ones who have spent their lives having things done for them by their parents. They’re real, living people who don’t want to see others experience the type of horrors that went on within their school.

“Many would blame this event on the FBI’s lack of action or on the Trump administration,” said Lorenzo Prado, a Stoneman Douglas junior, during a rally at the Florida state capital. “The simple fact is that the laws of this beloved country allowed for the deranged gunman to purchase a gun legally.”

According to a study by the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, there have been 290 shootings in schools since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. The question then remains, how many more people have to die before the country realizes where its priorities lie?

I’ll never forget the day my mother came home after the news broke about Sandy Hook. The door flung open, she tossed her purse against the stairs and pulled me into a hug. At 13, I tried to wiggle my way out of her arms. She didn’t let go so easily this time, and I heard her whisper to me against the top of my head, “I just want to hold my baby right now because there were parents today whose babies never came home.”

The hardest challenge to fixing our gun laws here in the U.S. is its very ties to the second amendment. Any sort of regulations are met with harsh condemnation from GOP lawmakers and the people they represent.

I highly doubt our founding fathers could have predicted the scores of people who would die at the hands of assault weapons when they wrote the Second Amendment. I would argue, as a college student, that gun regulations don’t hinder freedom, but rather give freedom to those who no longer feel safe.

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