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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

A time to take action

We ought to stand with the Parkland students

Seventeen people, including 14 students and three faculty members, were killed when a gunman opened fire in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14. The shooting in Parkland is now the ninth deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the deadliest shooting in a school since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

The days following a mass shooting event such as the violence in Parkland have come to follow an unfortunately predictable script, filled with investigations into the motive of the shooter and grieving for the victims.

In their statements to their constituents, many politicians treat shootings as depoliticized tragedies, a time for mourning and grief. Although these incidents are in fact tragic—and in the time following, the loved ones of those who are killed deserve time, space and privacy to mourn—the aftermath of a mass shooting is also a time for action.

Although recently we tend to see more clamoring for gun control legislation after a mass shooting, at least in the United States Congress, attempts to pass gun control measures usually aren’t successful. For example, Congress hasn’t even moved to ban bump stocks, the device used by the shooter at the Las Vegas Harvest Festival to make his weapon perform like an automatic rifle, despite the the outrage after the shooting, when even the National Rifle Association conceded that devices like them ought to be regulated.

The students affected by the Parkland shooting, however, have made it clear that they will not be satisfied with the same tired pattern. In the days since the shooting, they have done everything they can to keep activism and action in the forefront of media coverage of the tragedy.

In the hours following the shooting, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas shared videos they took and text conversations they had with their loved ones while hiding from the shooter and evacuating the school, which have since gone viral on social media as a part of the Never Again social media campaign started by students at the school.

Students appeared on local and national media for interviews in which they professed their resolve to change the script. They expressed their anger at representatives for inaction on gun control legislation and announced the actions they were planning to support gun control measures both locally and nationally.

Students with the #NeverAgain movement had already made plans by Sunday, just four days after the shooting, to travel this week to Tallahassee with one hundred of their classmates to meet with their state legislators and advocate for gun control legislation. Students are also organizing the March for Our Lives on March 24 in Washington, D.C. and have invited students across the country to join them in Washington or in their own communities.

Other students have already heeded their call. Students at some schools have staged walkouts and held rallies for gun control legislation. The youth branch of the Women’s March is organizing a school walk out for March 14 and National School Walkout, an online movement, is advocating that students walk out of school on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting.

It is unacceptable that students are scared to go to school now. It is, however, rational. Since Columbine in 1999, “more than 135,000 students attending at least 164 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus,” according to an analysis done by the Washington Post.

Children and young people are also frequent victims of other forms of gun violence. Teens and young adults are disproportionately likely to be murdered by a gun, according to the National Institute of Justice. And each year, about 20,000 children under 20 are killed or injured by a gun, including unintentional shootings and suicides, according to a study by Princeton University.

High school students, and students even younger, have already leapt into action. As fellow students, we need to join them. If we want to see change in our gun policies, we ought to join them in lifting our voices to our representatives in state and federal government.

We ought to join them in the actions already planned, and plan our own, especially ones in Harrisburg to target our state government. And we ought to remember that, as college students, we have to use our votes on behalf of fellow students who are younger than us to vote out representatives who fail to act on the concerns of their constituents, first in the midterm elections in 2018 and in elections to come.

We recognize that gun control is a complex issue, and there’s no one perfect answer that will stop mass shootings. But we have to try to approach solving this issue in every way that we can. That means enacting gun control measures like ending gun show loopholes, mandating universal background checks, and expanding the data reported to the national background check system. It means reauthorizing the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, and considering further measures like banning high-capacity magazines.

It also means looking out for the people most at risk of becoming violent in our own communities by funding schools so that students have access to counselors and by expanding access to mental health treatment to mend the inequities in access to mental health care.

To truly address our country’s gun violence problem, we need to start taking action on all of these measures and more. Let’s start by standing with the students from Parkland.

—The Hawk Staff

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    Scott CzarkowskiFeb 23, 2018 at 11:48 am

    Yes I agree somewhat with stricter laws about how to obtain a gun/rifle legally but making stricter laws for law abiding citizens, which would also include all Law Enforcement, is crazy.

    Think of this: if a cop uses his weapon and the person dies who is to blame, the cop or the gun? If a person, who has been drinking all night decided to get into their car and accidently kill someone, who is to blame the idiot driving or the car? If someone was to take a knife, into a subway and stab and possibly kill people, I as you who is at fault the knife or the person using it? Your answers will be the sane which would be the person using it.

    With stricter gun laws which will only be for the law abiding citizens how does one stop all the illegal gun sales that can be purchased in Philly, Camden, Jersey City, Newark and any other poor city throughout the USA? Youll go and make tougher laws for you and I but the criminals will still be running around with guns and killing people.

    Another thought is mental illness or instability. If you were to do a study from the ALL the mass shootings you will see that all of them had severe mental illness. Maybe there should be a connection there?

    And last thing. How about stopping all the violent video games where children get points for killing, raping and murdering people. Maybe if such games werent around we wouldnt have such problems.

    You, Alex, are a great writer but instead of focusing on what everyone else is, open your views to every possibility and express those points as well.