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Local Students on School Shootings, Unabridged

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Reasonable Measures

As a high school student, I don't worry about gun violence happening to me. I feel relatively safe at school but I also realize that gun violence can happen anywhere, anytime. However, the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida caused me to think about the subject more than ever. I think it is obvious that America needs to improve the current system.

I'm not opposed to people owning guns but I do think that reasonable measures should be taken to ensure public safety. I believe that more gun regulation on the national level is in order. There are too many inconsistencies among the separate states. I would implement common sense limits on magazine capacity. California, for example, has a 10 round capacity, which is a reasonable amount for any target shooter, hunter or home owner. There also needs to be better overall awareness of the hazards of firearms, as well as mandatory gun safety classes for gun owners. People have to take driving classes to get their license, or to drive a big rig truck, so why not do the same thing for firearms? Why couldn't we take a more practical approach to firearm safety, the way we would with any other type of problem? What is it going to take for our country to realize that the risks increase every day that we put it off? I would make more of a distinction between normal guns and assault weapons. Perhaps there should be more classifications of firearms that would require additional authorization and training. There is no reason for the average citizen to own military-grade firearms. If someone wants to shoot these types of weapons, they could be required to keep them locked up securely at a gun range. I believe that there is more gray area when it comes to the Second Amendment than is currently being discussed. It doesn't have to be all one way or the other, and people on both sides of the issue need to be less ideological and more open to compromise.

The other aspect of recent school shootings is the psychological effect they have had on me. Whenever I see a quiet, troubled loner at school I no longer look at him or her as a depressed and harmless teenager, but as a potential school shooter. I find myself keeping a distance and a close eye on them at all times. I also consider possible escape routes and safe areas where I could hide if I needed to. I am much more aware of my surroundings and how I could use physical barriers to protect myself and my friends. I run through possible scenarios in my mind in order to prepare myself for the worst. I never thought I'd have to think this way at school but that is the new reality. Sometimes I can't believe that it is real. I think that all schools should practice active shooter drills on a regular basis in order to be prepared for the possibility of an attack. I used to think of school as a safe place but the sense of security is dwindling with each new shooting. I hope that this is just a trend that will go away in a few years once our society has dealt with it more effectively. I'm saddened to live in an era in which school shootings have become the new normal. I never thought this sort of thing would happen in our country. I hope that our leaders are able to come up with a better solution than they have so far.

— Theodore Wade, 11th grade


Into the eyes of a student

My views toward school is that I feel unsafe when I am present in school. The idea of someone coming on campus and hurting me is very apparent and everyday I just wonder if it will be today or tomorrow. I know that is an awful way to think but, with the way things have been going, I don't think I am too far from the truth. I could think of a number of students who would gladly bring violence to the schools and that makes me scared. I say this because it is jokingly expressed in the schools daily. More people are becoming bolder when it comes to hate speech and being aggressive, especially when it comes to their own opinions and views. With that comes an unsettling feeling whenever my peers and I get into debates. I want to be able to go to school and not have someone verbally abuse another when I am in class because with that can come violence.

If we can stop and all agree that schools are currently unsafe and start brainstorming ideas then I think we can come to some solutions. A lot of the ideas that are being expressed right now do not go to the main source, which is guns.

Now, my view toward guns is that we should make it harder to get guns and we should limit the number that you are allowed to have, but I don't think we should completely take away guns.

I understand the second amendment says we have the right to bear arms and I can respect that, but when you have 10-plus guns, I wonder if you really need that many — you only have two arms. If you really need it for protection, you are most definitely only protecting yourself from people who also have guns.

I hear the argument that the reason gun violence is a problem is because the "bad" people have guns. Who is the government to determine who is good and bad? Another thing, no one is purely evil or purely good. We are a mixture of both and trying to take ourselves away from that is silly. Human beings are beings that can be awful but humans can also be compassionate and loving so saying that only the good people should get guns makes no sense. If we can just figure out some ways to make our schools safer without giving teachers guns or taking away guns, then I think we can come to a compromise. All I want is to feel safe when I am present in school because school is a place where you are supposed to learn not be scared.

— Tsewiniche Van Pelt, 11th grade


At Any Moment

I am a 15-year-old girl in ninth grade with the worry of having to be nervous to get an education because at any moment something tragic can happen. As a child in this sorrowful generation, we were always the ones being told we are the future. We hold the power to change our world. We are the ones who hold peace. I grew up in a town where things were always good and our community was a team who wanted good things for our children and their education. As our world and country have remorsefully changed, people changed to adapt to that, from poverty to an affluent lifestyle. As I entered high school, I felt like that was my safe place for the next four years of my life as I was sort of moving in for a short period of time. I felt like everything was safe and we were protected from everything around us on our campus. To think that there are so many easy access entrances around my school anyone could be blindsided. And once you think about that, you start worrying about you and your peers safety.

On top of all of the issues going on in my own life, hearing about young people who choose to make a decision to put others in danger to end their own life is heartbreaking and I feel for each and every person suffering, from the kids who are thinking this is the right thing to do, to all the families who lost something precious to them. Each and every single person in this world who has heard about this tragic event has their own opinion on how things should have gone and how we should handle it, but what we have to say now does not change what happened and what people think should have happened, because it doesn't matter. What we should say now is, "Let's help our children when we know they are suffering, when we know we can do something to keep them safe because our children are our the future and without them there is nothing." I have watched multiple parents talk about the loss of their children to this event and they all say the same thing. They say they would do anything to see their babies one more time, to be able to wake up and not send their kids to school because they thought that this was going to happen.

Humboldt County is a community full of individuals like me, willing to make a change for the better. We need to stand up and make a difference because we could say how much we need to change, but those are just words. Help your children and the children of others go to school and grow to be full and happy because we are the next generation. We are here today to fix yesterday and learn for tomorrow. Love what you have and understand what you know because you never know when you aren't going to see the one you love again.

— Sonora Breault-Miller, ninth grade

Make Schools Safe Again

My name is Malachi Stephens, and I am currently a student at McKinleyville High School. I, like many others, saw on the news and watched in horror at the sight of another school shooting. But I also wondered what are we doing to protect the students and faculty on even our own campus? Sure, we have lockdown drills but you never know how you'll react in the situation when it's life or death. I may not know what the best answer is. It may be arming the staff or it may be more gun laws, or it could be an answer no one has come up with yet.

But in my opinion while thinking through each of these not-so-good options, I've concluded that arming trained staff would only be a problem if said staff were to make a mistake, like the teacher at Seaside High (he had mistakenly discharged his firearm in class at the ceiling and injured a student.). Changing the gun laws would result in less people who legally obtain firearms but the criminals who illegally get them wouldn't be affected. Furthermore, I believe arming staff would result in less school shootings and increase security because of the "fear factor" of having trained staff. Another suggestion I would make is security checkpoints or metal detectors in schools to keep weapons out and make schools safer to be in. Compare a school like mine with an open campus to a school with armed staff and metal detectors. Which is more likely to get attacked?

But school shootings aren't just about the weapons used but also the people who use them. We should equip schools with the opportunity to give all students a mental evaluation, or yearly checkups. Having these implemented would further decrease the amount of school shootings. This should be a priority in schools, our schools are underfunded in the mental health department, and this shows by the frequency of these terrible attacks. It honestly doesn't surprise me anymore that attacks happen because of what people go through on a daily basis, and some people just can't deal with it and turn to violence.

The worst part of all this is how our generation has become numb to all of the violence and shootings because we grew up with it. It's almost expected to be on the news at this point and that is even more terrifying than the shootings themselves.

— Malachi Stephens, 11th grade



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