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Local Students on School Shootings, Unabridged

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People are dangerous

I've lived in McKinleyville all of my life. If you asked me if I think that people could do these things to kids, I would never believe it. I don't understand how people could stomach these kinds of events. Of course this will bring up the topics of gun control and safety.

At schools, we always practice school safety and, sure, we practice lockdowns and earthquakes. Are we really prepared mentally and physically for a school shooter on campus? We should be training our students, as well as teachers, mentally for this situation. Having us sit under our desks until we hear bells is not good enough training. Try taking us by surprise with lockdowns so we get mentally prepared to be taken by surprise without panicking. We would know to stay calm, cool and collected. We would like to think that we're prepared with all of the drills we do at school, but I feel like it's not enough because when the real deal hits us most of the people will be panicked because they weren't truly prepared for the moment. We should have fail-safes for our main ideas. A backup that only key people know about so no one gets told and knows how to compromise it.

My beliefs intersect with others and I know everyone's opinions matter in situations like this. I do not blame guns in this situation. I blame the person who could fathom doing this. It's not like this man showed the symptoms of being a mass school shooter when he purchased the weapons. There's no real way of knowing so you can't really blame the gun laws. In my eyes there was no real way to prevent this. There were so many ways to catch this guy but we missed every opportunity. There were just chances that we missed like the uber driver could have discovered that he was carrying a weapon but it all just worked in the shooter's favor. So before you go blaming the weapons that are used, you need to look more into security and transportation. The security guard of the school was not prepared and cowered away, which cost kids their lives. He was not prepared to give his life for the upcoming generation. We need to put schools first in these times.

— Craig Peterson, 11th grade

Current Student and Future Teacher

I am a junior at Mckinleyville High School and I plan to become a math teacher when I am older. As a person who loves drama, I love to partake in my school's Advance Theater Workshop class and the spring plays. Off the top of our heads, we make up different situations and perform them. The situations with guns and school shootings are nothing I could have ever imagined to be a reality. As Andrew Pollack (father of Meadow Pollack who was killed during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting) said during President Donald Trump's listening session on Feb. 21, "It's school safety, it's not about gun laws right now. That's another fight, another battle. Let's fix the schools, then you guys battle it out. Whatever you want but we need our children safe." Mr. Pollack went through something no father should. To sum up, he said the main issue is not gun control. It's how to make schools safer. He also talked about how it took one time for something to happen at the airport or a concert and the safety of those places increased. So why isnt that happening at our schools? How many dead kids will it take?

My school is a very open campus. For lunch, it is open and many kids either walk to one of the two gas stations in the area or drive somewhere. The doors are always open. I honestly do not feel safe here. I have heard many stories of random people walking on campus and just roaming around. Even sitting in my car in the student parking lot because I'm a little late for class, I have seen some weird things, like people just driving in and then turning around and leaving. I have made plans with friends and my boyfriend on what we would do if something happens, how we would make sure the other is safe. I pray nothing ever happens but you don't think its going to happen to you until it does and, by then, it's already too late.

As I said before, I plan on being a math teacher later on. If everything goes to my plan, then I will be spending many more years at a school. I don't want to change what I have planned for my future just because I don't feel safe. That is how we lose good teachers. They leave for a better job, a safer one. I don't blame them but what about the few students who need those good teachers?

In my opinion, we should keep the doors around the school closed and get better locks for classrooms. We should put more money into the safety of the school rather than then sports. Invest in Barracuda Intruder Defense Systems. I realize this all takes money but I believe our community will put the effort and money into protecting our schools and children if we ask them.

— Ariel McElrath, 11th grade

I Don't Have The Answers

As a teenager with social media, I've seen my fellow peers post about their beliefs and events they go to in order to show their support. Teenagers are a lot stronger and wiser than they're given credit for. This past Valentine's Day, an incident occurred in Parkland, Florida, that shocked the nation. Valentine's Day is meant to be a day to celebrate and spread love. But this event at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School did the exact opposite.

Teenagers across the United States decided to be the ones to stand up and speak out about their feelings toward gun laws and what should be done about them when adults and people in higher power wouldn't. A student-led national walkout was held on March 14th at 10 a.m. in which students all across the country got up and left class in order to commemorate the lives lost in the Parkland shooting, as well as protest gun laws. During this walkout, there 17 minutes of silence were held in honor of the 17 lives lost in the shooting.

In regards to the Parkland shooting itself, you really wonder, did Nikolas Cruz have specific targets? Did he intentionally shoot the 17 people he did? He was clearly very troubled and was diagnosed with illnesses such as depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, emotional behavioral disability and autism. His mother told the police he also dealt with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and anger issues. He had been seeing a counselor and taking medication but in January of 2017 he stopped getting treatments for his mental health issues. Based on these few facts, it is clear that he had problems that were not handled properly. I personally believe the attack was a way to take his anger toward things he went through in his time at the school being that he was labeled as very lonely.

I have views on many things that I feel strongly about, but none of them have really ever been about gun laws. But after the shooting happened, it made me think, "What are my opinions and views on gun laws?" And honestly, I'm still not entirely sure. It's not something you can just decide within a moment. But is anyone really sure? I'm a junior in high school and I don't know what to think or how to even process what could be done to solve this recurring issue. All I can say is that I hope one day this issue will be solved in a way that will help us avoid more innocent lives being lost and for those who are troubled to get help to get better.

— Tamia Crackel, 11th grade



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