On Valentine’s Day this year, my friends and I were drinking wine in the safe confines of my room. Minutes later, as we laughed and cried over trivial but oh-so-important things, we saw the news in Florida: 17 people were shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Our blood ran cold.
Imagine cowering beneath a table as armed students parade through the halls. Imagine going to school each day with the fear that any child could be carrying guns in his or her backpack. Imagine going into lockdown. In a small town like St. Andrews, students do not have to worry about the immediate threat of guns. Fortunately, we are not plagued by the manipulated Second Amendment which so many use as a shield for their arguments against gun regulation.
The numerous shootings that have happened in America aren’t waking people up, despite the outcries; after Florida, people rejected thoughts and prayers, instead advocating for change that should have happened decades ago. Unfortunately, some people – including the figurehead of American politics – find it too easy to cling to their beloved Constitution, and pass off deaths as simply more in a list far too long.
On my 13th birthday in Connecticut, the same thing happened. I did not know until I got back home that children younger than my brother had been tragically shot and killed at Sandy Hook by a man with easy access to a gun. My birthday dinner was surrounded by screens that blared out the tragedy. Although it would have been nice not to think about it, this is a reality, and we cannot become immune to it merely because of its shocking repetition.
Guns are as easily available as sugar in America. Walk into Walmart and they stand, almost proudly, next to children’s toys, with backdrops of the banner and ‘cute’, hideous names that somehow lure beloved NRA supporters to them. The fact that someone can legally buy a weapon and keep it in their car, or their bag, is ludicrous, and far from any resemblance of ‘safety’.
So when Trump began talking about arming teachers, this sent a wave of fear through many people. He said: “This would be obviously only for people who were very adept at handling a gun, and it would be, it’s called concealed carry, where a teacher would have a concealed gun on them. They’d go for special training and they would be there and you would no longer have a gun-free zone.” His flippant language, his “obviously” – as though this is a simple solution to a problem which is, in reality, far more complex than his vocabulary will ever be.
After Sandy Hook, my high school in Connecticut installed bullet proof windows in the cafeteria; now they have the occasional policeman outside. Some schools do security checks. But the reality is that removing the guns removes the problem – an idea that so many cannot grasp, as instead they cling to their weapons that keep them ‘safe’, regardless of so many children that have been killed.
Educational institutions should not be a place of violence, of firearms, or of fear – nowhere should be. We are lucky here in that we can sit in seminars, lectures, the library, without feeling as though any student could walk in with a gun and wreak havoc for no reason. When Trump says, “a ‘gun free’ school is a magnet for bad people,” what he should instead be thinking is how to give the right help to those who turn to weapons. His statement doesn’t exactly fall in line with the infamous NRA’s, either: “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Placing guns in the arms of teachers will not solve anything.
I read an article last week in which a veteran talked about the absurdity of arming teachers. He wrote, “This isn’t a movie where bullets always miss the hero. These teachers aren’t action stars.” He stressed that no one can predict how an individual will react in a situation – fight or flight. We cannot introduce more weapons into the system; we need to weed them out. The US, in 2015, had nearly one gun for every individual. This is not “liberty and justice for all,” but instead introducing fear into the hearts of the young, innocent children who go to school each day for their education.
It is ludicrous in 2018 that we are even toying with this idea. Thankfully, here, we do not have to worry about our town’s safety, but the mere diversity of the university means that almost everyone is affected. It is a harsh reminder for a lot of things: love those close to you, be thankful for each day, be kind to everyone, and do not be apathetic and rest on this issue. We must advocate for gun laws and not settle for the arming of more people.