Youth Reflect on School Shootings, the Second Amendment and Taking Action

Editor's Note:

Writers from Andrew Hill High School reflect on recent school shootings and although all said they didn't know about this past weekend's local March for Our Lives protest, more resources would help them be engaged.

Penalizing Students Instead of Policy Solutions
Janelly Renteria Alvarez

The Second Amendment was written at a time when “the right to bear arms” meant owning a gun that could only shoot a single bullet per minute; it also allowed a 19-year-old in Parkland, Florida to legally own an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon in 2018. Last month, this youth proceeded to kill 17 people in a high school, all while making it into a police car alive. How many more have to have their lives lost for us to finally do something?

How long do we have to go out and live our lives in fear until we can finally stop asking if one of us is next? I can see that people and organizations may be money hungry and would rather fight for the rights to their guns than the lives of those who have been lost or will be lost in the future.

However, what I fail to understand is how people in power aren’t so willing to work with us to at least adjust the policies we have now. Arming teachers, clear backpacks, bulletproof whiteboards are the proposed solutions. Instead of using government funds to fix the problem we are having, they’re simply trying to avoid it by penalizing the students for policies legislators don’t want to change.

Money is Everything to Our Corrupt Government
Betzy Gutierrez Padilla

“Another school shooting,” is what I heard when I walked into my math class just a few days ago and the first thing that came to mind was what I have learned about it with the Second Amendment. In states we have the right to arms bear, but whose  rights are actually being supported when it comes to these gun laws? I see signs all over the school campus that state that it’s a “safe place” and I wish that were true. We’re not supposed to be worrying about threats of gun violence at a place like school. Parents bring their children here believing they will be safe. For me school is an escape from home. When I have problems at home, going to school distracts me and gives me a break from my worries.

I learned in class that many are fighting to introduce gun safety laws and I am relieved to hear that. Then I found out the reason why this hasn’t happened yet. I learned that the NRA (National Rifle Association), which is supposedly responsible for gun safety, is the same organization that is paying off the Senate, corporations, private business and the government. The NRA pays and gives donations to politicians. Of course politicians won’t do anything to regulate gun laws when money is everything to our corrupt government. I am disgusted by the world we live in, where money is more important than the lives of people. It’s a shame that many believe that children and teenagers don’t know anything and they silence us as if our opinion doesn’t matter. F*** the system we’re in, and we won’t be silenced until we see a change.

Inspired into Action for My Community  
Moctezuma Rivero Mendoza

The right to bear arms is in our Second Amendment and many civilians in the United States are taking it into consideration. The National Rifle Association (NRA) promotes and encourages arming people with weapons. The NRA stands for the Second Amendment and to continue maintaining gun laws. The association changed the age requirement to 18 years old to hold and bear arms and there has been much discussion that teachers should be armed with guns.

The 2017 to 2018 school year has been my senior year in high school and I’ve been noticing more and more news about tragic events of gun violence such as school shootings, police brutality, and domestic violence. I wasn’t aware of these reports because I have noticed that most news sources will underreport stories involving minority groups. On the news they will talk about cases that involve majority groups and those with more privilege. In the Latino news sources we view in my home they don’t talk about the most recent shootings, rather the celebrity drama or other irrelevant topics. Gun violence has taken the lives of children and teenagers in the recent school shootings and I feel afraid that anyone can shoot up my school or another local school in the East Side Union.

Police Brutality also takes a role in gun violence, officers are armed with not only power but with a weapon to protect their community. Police have authority to shoot whenever a person is posing a threat, but in many  cases police have abused this power, and have shot civilians who surrendered and were listening to the orders that officers gave them.

Domestic violence is also related to gun violence. Domestic violence disrupts relationships, marriages, and families. It is not only common in heterosexual couples experience but it can also occur in the LGBTQ+ community. It isn’t acknowledged that the queer community also experiences high rates domestic violence. I was reading an article about how twenty years ago in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a man was held hostage for nearly four hours by his partner. He threatened him with a knife and gun. As a queer man, this makes me feel worried for my community and I want to be able to feel that I also have the opportunity to have healthy relationships. Many LGBTQ+ people don’t know that domestic violence can also happen in their intimate relationship because domestic violence is only represented as a common issue for heterosexual women.

A variety of violent cases involve a loved one being armed with a weapon that was used to harm or murder someone. Being a youth representative from Andrew Hill I stand for my community’s safety, and I want the government to pass stronger bills and policies that constrict the right of violent people to bear arms. Everyone in the community is getting involved and will continue to fight for these policies that will protect my community from the harms of gun violence. These events inspire me to take action for my community.

Victims of a Nation’s Ignorance
Tania Vargas

15 shot and 2 dead. 19 struck and 17 killed. 17 injured and 32 gone. 2 hurt and 27 no longer with us. Each a different event where all victims were simply attending school, attempting to give or receive an education. That was until a man walked onto their supposedly safe campus with murderous intentions and a bloodthirsty weapon. Children ranging from 6-17 years of age as well as administrators lost their lives.

I am a 16-year-old high school student. I wake up every morning and go to school. I follow the dress codes, dread unannounced tests, attempt to beat my previous mile run time, laugh at childish jokes with my friends, plan that night’s dinner, and eventually begin to look forward to the second the clock strikes 2 o'clock, triggering the exit bell. There are students just like me, but their last day in school, was much different from mine. Their school regulated uniform covered in blood, dreading coming face to face with the noise that silenced their classmates, attempting to outrun the delirium, whose laughs turned into full-blown shrieks, and they never made it home to enjoy their dinner. Those students didn’t survive to hear the exit bell and the only trigger they heard was one of a gun.

Those victims woke up that morning, hoping to get through a day of new knowledge and experiences, and instead meeting their end with a semi-automatic weapon they should have only witnessed in a history book. Never did it cross their mind that they would draw their last breath that day. No student should ever have to consider the possibility that their lives will end at school. The witnesses whose lives were spared now wake up every morning not dreading their next math assignment, but frightened of the next deranged human being that lurks on their campus armed and looking for victims in their math class.

Still, nothing is being done by legislators to regulate gun usage. Our nation’s children are still in constant danger of being the next victims of firearms that are used on campuses. No parent should send their children off to school in fear for their lives. No educator should have to worry about the dangerous work environment they are put in. It is emotionally exhausting to see the words school and shooting going hand in hand in weekly headlines. We must fight for the safety of educational environments. The children of the future deserve that, at the very least.

"We cannot protect our guns before we protect our children" - Parkland Shooting Survivor and Student Advocate

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