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Local Students on School Shootings, Unabridged

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The Obligation of the American Youth

After a shooting, particularly a school shooting, a strange phenomenon begins and everyone starts pointing fingers. The far left starts blaming the far right and the far right throws accusations back. Some like to blame the gun and others blame the shooter. In my experience, it's hard to pick out the truth and harder still to come up with a solid opinion that is well informed.

According to ABC News, there have been 19 school shootings since the beginning of 2018, which makes America the leader of school shootings worldwide, by a landslide. The question that keeps popping into my mind is, why? How can so many tragedies keep happening and nothing is changing? So to me, the finger pointing makes sense. People are angry and demanding change, though, I agree, it is hard to determine what that change should be. As a student and just as a human being, I sympathize very deeply with the people who have experienced a school shooting. However, it's difficult to relate to them. I have never experienced a school shooting, nor have I been close to one that's happened. I hope I never will. It's hard to imagine the terror that the Parkland shooting survivors must have felt.

I researched California gun laws and found that it's really quite difficult to obtain a gun and the process of getting one is very detailed and not simple at all. I then researched gun laws in Florida, which are not as stringent as California's. The last school shooting in California was in 2012 in Los Angeles but for Florida it is obviously still very poignant and fresh. So, again, it's hard to relate. However, the fact is that the people who are shooting up schools aren't going through the system to legally obtain a gun. Recently President Trump revoked the law stating that people wanting to get a gun have to take a mental health exam. While California still upholds this law, federally, it has been revoked.

Across the country, students are planning school walkouts, marches and sit ins. Students are planning a walkout on March 14 at Eureka High and I plan on participating. Not as a way to proclaim my undying detestation for guns, but as a way to honor the lives lost at Parkland and at all the other school shootings that have occurred. However, I know some passionate students who want to do something more drastic in order to really change something. If lived in Florida, I would drop everything and join that group of people who demand change and will do what must be done to make that happen. I do not live in Florida and am lucky enough to live in place where the gun control laws are among the strictest in America. I simply don't think it is my place to protest laws in California that are doing their job, not hurting people.

What can I do, is what I find myself asking. I want to make a difference in my generation and create change for the better. I think it's important to talk about it, though it may be hard. Even more important, the youth must come together. There is strength in numbers and, no matter if you support guns or don't, if the youth of America can step forward and support those who have been lost and those who have witnessed the tragedy of a school shooting, then it is only a matter of time before change ensues.

— Catherine Holper, 11th grade


The Generation Of Change

When we, two students attending Eureka High, heard the devastating news about the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, we were heartbroken for the victims and their families. However, what we did not feel was shock over the fact that this type of tragic event occurred in our country. The frequency with which mass shootings have occurred since the events in Columbine, Colorado on April 20, 1999 is, in our opinion, beyond unacceptable.

We feel as if our country has begun to normalize these mass shootings; responding by labeling them as horrible incidents that need our thoughts and prayers. Well folks, the citizens of this country, have been sending thoughts and prayers for 18 years and look how affective that has been in making a substantial change for the better. Another shooting where 17 intelligent, innocent people's lives have not only been taken from them, but taken in a location where they should feel completely safe.

As students, we enjoy learning and demand a safe place to do so. Driven by inspiration arriving from the students of Stoneman Douglas High, who are using this tragedy as a platform to speak up and create change, we are taking action. We have planned a school walkout at Eureka High in order to remember the lives of the victims of the Stoneman Douglas High shooting and every other mass shooting in United States history. We also hope to spread the message that all students need to feel safe at school, and common sense gun control measures must be made.

While we didn't grow up in households with gun culture, we support Second Amendment rights. However, the idea that we can get guns easier than we our driver's licenses is absurd. With an understanding of the hunting culture in Humboldt County, we would like to make it very clear that we aren't suggesting taking away all guns from everyone. We are simply suggesting that universal background checks and controls need to be placed on people before they can buy a gun. We also suggest restrictions on military-style assault weapons. If the shooter at the school in Florida had a shotgun instead of an assault rifle, he may have caused harm but much less. These powerful guns make it easier for people to kill more efficiently, faster and with overall more devastation, and this must not be allowed to continue in our country.

We aren't naive to think there is one solution to this problem. Mental health issues need to be addressed. Communities also need to spread kindness. Finding the solution to this very complicated issue will require many changes in approach to a multitude of layers. It will most likely be anything but an instant answer, requiring us all to continue fighting for long-term change.

On March 14, Eureka High will have a walkout at 10 a.m. We encourage students to rally together and spread the message about keeping schools safe. Messages of change will start in small communities and then grow. Us young adults, the future of America, hope to create a change in our community of Eureka. We know from being exposed to today's politics, we are the ones who can change the future. We will be the generation that makes a difference and we are starting now.

— Klayre Barres and Kyra Dart, XX grade


A Child's Worst Nightmare

When we were little, our greatest fear was the monster hiding under our beds. As we got older, we feared Jason and Freddie getting us in the night, and now our greatest fear is getting up to go to school. School is supposed to be our safe haven. A place where we go eight hours a day, five days a week. A place where we come to forget our worries and troubles. School to me always felt like a second home but now it's just another place I dread going.

We as a nation need to find a middle ground before another school gets shot up. According to Time magazine there have been approximately 290 "school shootings," ranging from mass shootings like Sandy Hook and Parkland, Florida, to adults having brawls in the school parking lot after hours, since 2013 . Taking away guns or making the gun laws stricter is not the only solution. We need to increase campus security and seriously think about installing bulletproof glass all throughout the schools. I have listened to many interviews where Parkland survivors agree that if their school had better security measures, it could have saved dozens of lives. It's obvious that increasing security and installing bullet proof glass will never be the solution to end all school shootings but it is a good place start. We need to put aside our political beliefs and come up with a good plan to ensure that no family will get a phone call home letting them know their child has been injured in another mass shooting.

Being liberal or conservative had nothing to do with these school shootings. Many believe the causes behind most of these shootings are due to the fact that it's too easy for an unstable person to get his or her hands on a gun without proper background screening, and many other Americans believe changing the guns laws is unconstitutional and unnecessary. We will never be on the same page and we will never fully agree with one another's beliefs, but should the children across the United States suffer just because we can't find a middle ground where we're not stepping on one group's beliefs? Even if we couldn't find a middle ground for the gun laws, we should come up with a plan for every school no matter the size. All across the United States, students took 17 minutes out of their day to mourn the 17 precious lives lost in a deadly mass murder, but that wasn't the only reason for the walkout. Depending on which student you ask, they will give you a different reason for walking out. For some students, it is was an opportunity to voice their opinion on installing better security measures and others didn't like they're Second Amendment being messed with. All in all, the underlying reasons are the same. We're scared. It's scary to think that your school could get shot up as easily as the other schools were. Students shouldn't come to school scared for their lives. They should be focusing more on the beautiful lines in "Romeo and Juliet." Not whether or not today will be a safe day to come to school.

— Danika Gritts, 11th grade




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