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  • McNeil High School, 5720 McNeil Drive, Austin, TX 78729

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Gun violence affects students, teachers

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School shootings in Columbine, Colorado, in 1999 and more recently, Parkland, Florida, in February have become commonplace. Survivors and advocates are fighting to enact stricter gun laws to ensure the safety of students in other schools. Instead of putting in new laws to prevent more mass shootings, Congressional representatives have tried to implement new ideas or policies that ignore gun laws and blame things like mental illness or the violence in video games and movies.

Factors that contribute to this issue are countless. For starters, there is talk about equipping teachers with guns of their own. But, teachers have one job: to educate the future of our country. When an adult chose to become an educator, they chose to help this country’s future learn. They did not choose to train in handling or possessing a firearm. Teachers should not be forced to carry weapons.

Now the question becomes “If teachers won’t protect students, who will/how will we find other ways to protect them?” To remedy these problems, some are asking schools to improve their security systems, such as restricting entrances, installing metal detectors, and even going as far as having armed security at the doors. The problem with this solution is that some students have already given up rights, like living in foster homes and speaking up because of the fear of getting kicked out just to attend school, so they might not want to have to give up any more. Student should not have to give up any rights at all just to get an education. As this debate goes on, schools are scrambling to assign more drills to ensure safety and a quick, easy solution.

Students are visibly distressed and are starting to take actions into their own hands. Victims from the Parkland shooting traveled to Washington, D.C., to raise awareness and protest for more gun control laws. There were nationwide school walkouts on March 14, exactly one month after the shooting in Florida, on March 24, and a planned walk out on April 20, the anniversary of Columbine. In some schools where students have already protested, staff tried to prevent these walkouts, but students defied authority and marched. Bringing awareness and educating students on these social issues should not be punishable. Administrators should not shield students, especially high schoolers, from these kinds of civil disobedience. Education is what shapes the future of our country and if we cannot teach students how to deal with tragedies like this, we do not have a bright future.

Along with school walkouts, students and supporters are holding marches in front of political buildings. As people gather together to support this cause, they bring up other issues from within. Many Black Lives Matter supporters are joining the Never Again movement, as BLM advocates have been fighting the gun violence battle for years. Mass shootings happen in more places other than schools and victims span all ages, races, genders and sexes.

As a society, we should work together to achieve justice for the lives that have been lost due to these horrific acts. We will not fix anything if we do not put aside our personal or political differences. Guns are not a joke. People dying from gun violence at all ages, but especially the young, is not a joke. Marching, spreading awareness, or talking about gun violence will not stop these deadly crimes. It is time we put a stop to gun violence through our actions including electing politicians who support sensible gun control laws.

 

Students who will be be 18 years old by Nov. 6, 2018 can register to vote at https://www.votetexas.gov/register-to-vote/index.html.

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