The Washington Post published an article on May 18, 2018 stating: “More people [in 2018 America] have been killed at schools than have been killed while deployed as members of the military.” (This does not take into account training and non-combat fatalities in the military.) This statistic portrays an unbelievable truth — that combat zones are actually “safer” than schools, institutions that were once built as safe havens, not target zones.
At this point in 2018, the United States has endured one school shooting per week.
This stunning statistic has engendered the term the “mass shooting generation” for students our age. The Twitter hashtag “#IfIDieInASchoolShooting” is trending among schoolchildren and teachers across the country, exhibiting the amount of national vigilance around gun control issues. Some of the most popular tweets include: “#IfIDieInASchoolShooting, use my death to push for gun reform” and “#IfIDieInASchoolShooting throw my body in front of the White House.”
In light of these recent events, there have been proposals for policy changes that aim to make schools safer. For instance, after the Parkland shooting, Florida Gov. Rick Scott submitted a $500 million spending plan to invest in school safety and mental health issues. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed a “red flag” executive order to prevent guns from falling into the hands of “people who may cause harm,” an action followed suit by Vermont Gov. Phil Scott. The two largest gun retailers in the U.S., Walmart and Dick’s, raised the minimum age for gun buyers from 18 to 21. Large corporations, such as rental car companies (Enterprise, Alamo, National, etc.), airlines (Delta and United), and insurers (MetLife, Allied, etc.) have severed ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA). President Trump vowed to pass an executive order to ban bump stocks, attachments that make semi-automatic weapons function as fully automatic weapons. Furthermore, to intensify background checks on gun owners, the Fix NICS Act of 2017 was passed this March, which gives penalties to government agencies for not reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, critics argue that the passage of this Act does little to enforce gun buyers to pass background checks, because the clauses of the Act were already deemed illegal before it was passed, not to mention they could also be easily circumvented.
This February, Episcopal student leaders Gilbert Amason, Kate Castle and Olivia Morton led the #Wearealleagles day to support and show solidarity for the victims of the Parkland shooting. Morton explains: “At EHS, students wore maroon, black, and gold, the colors of Majory Stoneman Douglas HS, and put orange (the color associated with anti-gun violence) ribbon on their wrists, backpacks, or pinned to their shirts.” Castle says, “Our hopes in this are to create change through civil disobedience but also to create an inclusive movement that brings awareness to mass shootings, school shootings, and to the gun violence that affects minorities on a daily basis.”
It is hard to imagine why it is so difficult to enact major changes in this country’s gun control laws, even with the staggering statistics of gun-related deaths backing the advocates up. The hardest part is that gun control is not just a current events topic, but that it is a constitutional debate. As Mr. Peter Goodnow, Advanced U.S. Government teacher explains, “For better or worse, there is a strong pro-gun consciousness in the U.S. Privately owned firearms helped win the American Revolution and aided (not always positively) in the U.S.’s western expansion. The Second Amendment enshrines gun ownership as a matter of individual sovereignty – freedom from an overly powerful government. Gun rights advocates see any legislation – even, sadly, something that protects school children from gun violence – as the first step down a slope that leads to confiscation of all guns, i.e. the same tyranny that the Founding Fathers revolted against in the 18th century.” In order to make the best out of the situation, lawmakers and civilians ought to find the common ground between protection of the Second Amendment and the minimization of gun-caused casualties… keeping in mind that a mother should never have to wake up in the morning in the fear that their children could be shot in school.
Read on for a list of school shootings and statistics since the beginning of 2018:
Jan 20: Wake Forest University (NC), 1 killed
Jan 22: Italy High School (TX), 1 injured
Jan 23: Marshall County High School (KY), 12 injured 2 killed
Jan 31: Lincoln High School (PA), 1 killed
Feb 1: Sal Castro Middle School (CA), 5 injured
Feb 5: Oxon Hill High (MD), 1 injured
Feb 9: Pearl-Cohn High School (TN), 1 injured
Feb 14: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (FL), 17 killed
Feb. 24: Savannah State University (GA), 1 killed
Feb 27: Mississippi Valley State University (MS), 1 injured
Feb 27: Norfolk State University (VA), 1 injured
Mar 2: Central Michigan University (MI), 2 killed
Mar 7: Jackson State University (MS), 1 injured
Mar 7: Huffman High School (AL), 1 injured 1 killed
Mar 8: University of South Alabama (AL), 1 injured
Mar 13: Seaside High School (CA), 1 injured
Mar 20: Great Mills High School (MD), 1 injured 1 killed
Apr 9: Gloversville Middle School (NY), 1 injured
Apr 12: Raytown South Middle School (MO), 1 injured
Apr 20: Forest High School (FL), 1 injured
May 11: Highland High (CA), 1 injured
May 18: Santa Fe High School (TX), 10 killed
May 25: Noblesville West Middle School (IN), 2 injured