Gun Control: Change Is in the Air

In light of the shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, gun control has been a popular topic.

After the shooting, 17 students were left dead, yet a large portion of this country continues to argue that guns are not the problem.

Junior Jalyn Osborne said, “This event was truly tragic. Each time I see news stories about these types of things I realize how badly something needs to change.”

The shooter is, of course, at fault for this horrific incident. However, if he had not had such easy access to a deadly weapon, this tragedy could have been avoided completely.

In the United States, guns are extremely popular. Our 2nd Amendment right, written hundreds of years ago, is the right to bear arms, though the said “arms” have evolved to a much deadlier weapon than any available in 1791.

Regarding gun control in the U.S., Senior Kobe Vanderwood said, “Living in Alaska gun control is fairly well regulated within the state requiring valid and somewhat extensive background checks. However in other states there are very minimal, if not at all, background checks. This poses a problem; when some people want a gun not for the use of hunting, sport or concealed carry, they are easily available to them.

“In my opinion, for people to acquire a gun, there should always be extensive background checks, training courses, and education courses that must be taken. As long as all these are met there should not be any gun ban on any currently legal gun within the United States.”

We live in a country where many students now fear going to school knowing that it could be their school plastered across news headlines next.

As more mass shootings occur, we begin to normalize these types of tragedies. For many younger generations, mass shootings have been a constant occurrence.

Apr. 20 1999: 24 killed at Columbine High School.

Apr. 16 2007: 32 killed at Virginia Tech.

Dec. 14 2012: 27 killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.

June 12 2016: 49 killed in a nightclub in Orlando.

Oct. 1 2017: 58 killed at a concert in Las Vegas.

The four deadliest mass shootings in  U.S. history have taken place in the last 11 years alone. This epidemic is escalating faster than ever, yet nothing is being done. Lawmakers and politicians continue to cower behind their prayers given to the families who have been devastated by these incidents.

However, a change may be beginning to occur before our very eyes. Something seems different this time; it’s the kids who are making a change.

Emma González, Cameron Kasky and Jackie Corin—all survivors of the Parkland shooting—have seemingly become the leaders of a movement against the NRA and politicians who continue to make no progress with this issue.

Sophomore Chelsea Bruce said, “It’s really incredible that these kids are speaking out. I hope that they continue to push for change.”

These students are appearing on TV, organizing marches and speaking at events, informing the public that they—along with many others—will no longer stand by silently as thousands of innocent people are killed.

We cannot afford to turn our backs on the issue of gun control anymore. For too long we have mourned over the loss of life after a mass shooting, and then moved on to the next popular topic in the news.

I don’t know of a single person who enjoys seeing another headline announcing a mass shooting, so why do we continue to allow semi-automatic rifles to be so readily available? If we don’t make a change this time, it only proves that our country is truly pathetic.

This movement isn’t about taking away all guns, it’s about being stricter with how we give them out. The average citizen does not need access to a semi-automatic gun, so why should they have such an easy time obtaining one?

According to a study done at the University of Alabama in 2012, accounting mass shootings from 1966 to 2012, the U.S. makes up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, but holds 31 percent of global mass shooters.

There are copious examples of the amount of mass shootings in the U.S. compared to other modern countries, yet our statistics regarding mass shootings often seem to be a great deal higher in almost every example.

If information like this doesn’t make you rethink the amount of access that those in the U.S. have to guns, then I don’t know what will.

When little change was made after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, many said that a change could never be made. If innocent children being shot while attending elementary school couldn’t change people’s minds, then nothing could.

And I used to think this too, but now I am hopeful that the Parkland survivors will be able to make a change. I think many can agree that there is a different feeling surrounding this shooting; a change is in the air.

Maybe it’s the horrific footage posted on various social media platforms that shows the bodies of students and teachers in classrooms while the remainder of the class hides in a corner, or maybe it’s the stand these survivors are taking, but it seems like something could actually change for the first time in a long time.

It might take years for these laws to be enacted, but as long as we keep pushing for gun control, a change should be made.

It is incredibly important that people continue to talk about these tragedies, even though it may be hard. This issue should not be turned into another liberal vs. conservative argument.

No one wants to see more people die as the result of a mass shooting. The people within this country simply need to come together and demand that something be done.

Regardless of your political standing, you need to acknowledge that these events are horrific and need to be stopped. Use whatever voice you may have and question your lawmakers, protest, speak out and get involved. The change lies within the people.