The Tomahawk

High School Students Share Their Thoughts on America’s School Shooting Epidemic

Kimberly Schulte, News Editor

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On February 14th, 2018, nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at his former high school in Parkland, Florida. He was charged with seventeen counts of premeditated murder and was placed on suicide watch in an isolated cell after his arraignment on February 15th.

Florida lawmakers passed a gun control bill for the first time in decades earlier in the month on March 7th, which is quite the feat, considering the fact that the southern state seems to strongly value their right to bare arms. Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill on Friday, March 9th; the law consists of a waiting period of three days on gun purchases, a ban on bump stocks, arming school employees as well as funding for more school security, and an expansion of mental health service and regulations.

It also raises the minimum age from 18 to 21 to purchase a firearm, which seems to be the most controversial portion of the entire bill besides arming school staff. 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signing gun control bill in early March

While the National Rifle Association (NRA) has agreed in the past that bump stocks should be banned from sale to everyday individuals, they have considerable problems with the raise in minimum age to purchase a firearm as propose in the Florida gun bill.

Since then, gun control and gun rights have been a hot topic amongst America’s citizens. Most arguments seem to lean towards advocation for some type of changes in the system, but there are still some who believe that the way things are now are the way things should stay.

The Tomahawk interviewed 3 students who all have huge opinions on gun control and what they think needs to be done to reduce the amount and frequency of school shootings in the United States.

Samantha St.Onge is a freshman at The Valley who considers herself to be a moderate, although she admits that she leans slightly more to the right on the political spectrum. St.Onge said that her initial reaction was to wonder about the mental state of the shooter more than anything else. “I just thought he must’ve been absurd and crazy to have done such a thing. There’s no way he should have been able to acquire a gun at that age. He can’t drink [alcohol] but he can own an assault rifle?”

St.Onge says that she believes that guns should obviously have regulations, but they should still be available for purchase to those who have a license and are authorized to own one, and she also says that opinion didn’t change even after the events in Parkland, Florida took place.

When asked what she personally thinks needs to be done to prevent such a tragic event from happening again, St.Onge said, “I honestly think that most of this revolves around the mental state of the shooter and I think that students and teachers need to be cognizant of the kids who tend to keep to themselves more, pay more attention to them, and help them to feel more included and happy so they don’t resort to such radical ideas and plans.”

In order to dive deeper into the student’s thoughts and feelings on the issue The Tomahawk spoke with Nick Reinhardt, a Senior at Chippewa who labels himself as purely a member of the Republican Party.

Reinhardt stated that he thought the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was horrific, but he thoroughly backs the right for an individual to purchase and own guns. However, he said that he agrees with President Trump; it doesnt make any sense why one has to be 21 years of age to own a pistol but 18 to be able to purchase an AR15.

When asked if he thinks the requirement age for a citizen (not in the military) to own any gun should be 21, Reinhardt said yes. He continued with:

“I think some good ways to protect us students in schools now would be to change our drills so we don’t hide in the corner of the room so the shooter doesn’t have to aim. Give us more than one armed staff member in the building because it’s not gonna help if we have an officer in the lunch room but the shooter is upstairs in a different hallway.”

Students from march down in support of gun reform legislation February 21, 2018 in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Karreon Grear is also a Senior at Chippewa Valley who has no significant label regarding his beliefs in politics and public policy.

“My very first thought after the shooting in Parkland was ‘Are we next?’. These school shootings are polka-dotting up all over the United States and it’s an eery feeling not knowing if today or tomorrow, or the next week, could be your last.”

Grear went on to say that he understands every individual’s right to own a gun, but feels strongly about civilians being unable to purchase and own semi or fully automatic weapons. He also thinks that students deserve one-on-one counseling with on campus counselors/therapists, that students should be given “bulletproof backpacks” for a small fee every year at Big Red Check-In, and that the safety drills we all particpate in during school hours need to be updated and changed every two years.

”If a school shooter is an ex-student, then having us as be sitting ducks does nothing when they already know the agenda.”

Whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or a Moderate, this epidemic in America right now cannot be ignored. It has to be dealt with via public policy, which will most likely be met with some sort of gun control or reform. Many students across the country are advocating for change by doing things like contacting their state representatives and even doing something as simple as voting during November elections can make a difference in the way politics is run currently.

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High School Students Share Their Thoughts on America’s School Shooting Epidemic