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Gun Violence in Our Schools; How Do We Stop It?

Megan McGuinness discusses her thoughts on the issue of gun violence and how it should be dealt with in schools.

Students+who+walked+out+of+their+Montgomery+County%2C+Maryland%2C+schools+protest+against+gun+violence+in+front+of+the+White+House+in+Washington%2C+U.S.%2C+February+21%2C++2018.++REUTERS%2FKevin+Lamarque+-+RC164B322F90
Students who walked out of their Montgomery County, Maryland, schools protest against gun violence in front of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21,  2018.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RC164B322F90

Students who walked out of their Montgomery County, Maryland, schools protest against gun violence in front of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RC164B322F90

REUTERS

REUTERS

Students who walked out of their Montgomery County, Maryland, schools protest against gun violence in front of the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RC164B322F90

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Should teachers be allowed to have guns in the classroom? Should gun laws be stricter? Should guns even be legal?  These are a few of the controversial questions that recently gained the spotlight on many news sites and have divided people across the nation. While some people say that guns should be allowed in the classroom for making students feel safer and reducing the risk of school shootings, others feel that teachers should not be armed and gun laws should be stricter. Still, others believe that assault weapons should be illegal.

Since the start of 2018, there has been an average of 1 school shooting a week. The increasing number of school shootings has caused many students to become nervous to be in school and think to themselves the terrifying question, “Will we be next?”. In response to these school shootings, particularly the recent mass-shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida which resulted in the deaths of over 17 students this past Valentine’s Day, many people, including President Donald Trump, have suggested allowing teachers to have guns in the classroom to help protect themselves and their students.

However, allowing more people to carry guns and into more venues is not the answer. If potential school shooters, who are typically mentally unstable, are planning on shooting up a school, they will likely do so regardless of whether teachers have guns or not. It wouldn’t necessarily make students feel safer. Having teachers armed in the classroom could make students feel even more anxious and frightened. Teachers holding guns could create distrust among students regarding their teachers and their fellow classmates. If there was a student who was mentally unstable and wanted to shoot up their school, having guns already in the school and even possibly in their classroom, would not be good. They could possibly get their hands on that weapon and another mass shooting could potentially result. Also, teachers could misuse the privilege of having a gun in the classroom. For example, if a teacher got really upset with a student over something, they’d have a gun nearby and may use it either as a threat toward their student or use it to the extreme and shoot one of their students.

“I don’t think teachers should be able to carry guns in school. I wouldn’t feel comfortable and trust some of my teachers with them, even if they are technically qualified, and it would make the school feel more like a prison and scarier,” said Helena Middleton ’19. “It’s scary enough that school shootings are happening, but constantly being reminded of shootings through knowing that teachers have guns on them and that a threat is real, makes the situation scarier. I wouldn’t feel protected, I think I’d just be even more nervous about it. If we really want to make a change, they should focus on the gun violence problem.”

A month after the Parkland, FL shooting, protests were held across the U.S. against gun violence. Many teachers and students alike walked out in respect of those who died in the recent school shooting and in an effort to demand change. Many of the students who walked out were also doing so to encourage stricter gun laws or even, for some, the banning of guns. Students made their voices heard by holding signs that displayed sayings such as: “Your silence is killing us” and “It could have been us.” Also, on March 24, 2018, the March for Our Lives demonstration was held in Washington, DC and over 800 sibling demonstrations were held across the nation. Students took matters into their own hands and demonstrated their desire for guns to be banned, while others demanded stricter gun laws enforced to rid our nation of future school mass shootings. Enforcing stricter gun laws would be more practical in reducing gun violence and school shootings as only qualified individuals would be allowed to use guns, likely resulting in fewer people holding them who want to use them for the wrong reasons. Teachers have the job of teaching and caring for their students, not holding a gun. If schools want to create a safer environment for their students and staff, they can take other measures that don’t interfere with teachers’ jobs and put more stress on both the teachers and students.

An end to gun violence has received growing support from many students within our own school and many HHS students participated in the national walkout. Lots of students believe an end to gun violence must be reached and stricter gun laws enforced. Meagan Breen ’19 said, “Teachers holding guns is not the answer. If we want to be successful and make an impact in reducing gun violence, we should focus on the gun problem. There have already been mistakes with teachers accidentally shooting students nationwide and I don’t think armed teachers will solve anything,  just make things worse.”

Many teachers, even within our community, agree that teachers should not be allowed to hold guns. “Teachers should not be allowed to have guns in school,” said HHS assistant principal and former English teacher Mrs. McKenna. “Guns do not belong in schools.”

There are many potential alternatives that don’t include guns that schools could take to help make their schools safer. Schools could hire more security guards, install metal detectors, or create support groups for troubled students to help make students feel safer in school.

However, while stricter gun laws should be enforced, we shouldn’t go as far to ban guns. The right to bear arms is protected by the US Constitution. Guns have come to be a symbol of the American way of life for many people and taking them away would cause a lot of anger among many Americans. Also, while they shouldn’t be used in schools, many American citizens hold guns for self-defense and to help themselves feel safer. They’re very important in easing some people’s stress and giving people a sense of security. Also, guns are not the cause of mass shootings, people are. Perhaps there should be stricter guns laws so that only qualified and stable individuals are given guns. Lastly, just because guns are banned, doesn’t mean that people won’t find a way to get a hold of them. For example, although recreational marijuana use is deemed illegal nationwide, many people have still found a way around that and manage to get there hands on it. What makes us think that the gun situation will be any different?

As a current high school student, I believe extending the use of guns to teachers in schools is not the answer and that stricter gun laws should instead be passed to help bring about an end to gun violence, especially in schools. The government should not arm teachers in preparation for a possible shooting, but instead, make gun laws stricter to prevent school shootings from even happening in the first place.

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Gun Violence in Our Schools; How Do We Stop It?