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Local Students on School Shootings, Unabridged

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What if it was Different?

As a new student to Mckinleyville High, I was first drawn to the acceptance from the students. I was welcomed with open arms and this reflects the community as well. My new home has without a doubt become one I will never forget. Although this past year has been filled with joy, there has always been those "What ifs" stuck in the back of my mind and I think of them every morning. What if I leave for school and don't return home? What if I watch my classmate get shot and killed right next to me? What if my teacher risks his or her life to save the 30 of us hiding behind desks, books and anything that could potentially save us? No student or teacher should be worried about an active shooting happening on his or her campus, we should feel safe and protected at a place we spend seven-plus hours, five days a week.

In my hometown I was faced with a true lockdown and in the moment I didn't know what to think. One of my fellow students brought a gun to school but as it was happening, no one knew exactly what was going on. I'm never going to forget the siren that blasted through campus early in the morning warning us that it was not a drill. I remember sprinting to my teacher's back room, shoving and pushing between my friends though a small doorway. Twenty-eight of us were crowded in a small room, sitting there in silence, some teary eyed. We texted friends in other classes to see if they knew anything but everyone said something different. I didn't text any of my family members because I was too scared to face the reality. I kept telling myself it was going to be OK and nothing was going to happen, even when I didn't know the full truth. A little over two hours later, our principal informed everyone that it was safe to leave, no one was hurt and the kid was arrested. Thankfully, nothing happened to anyone, but that isn't the case for the majority of schools that have a student who brings a gun to the campus. No one should have to go through this experience in school, no one should have to think about where they're going to hide when they hear those sirens. School should be a safe place for anyone who attends, not a place where we have to decide if we're going to crowd together and pray the shooter doesn't come into our room or be the hero that confronts them hoping to save everyone else while risking their lives.

We come to class everyday stressed about the homework we didn't get done the night before, the test we have second period or the sports game that could decide our future. We should only be faced with problems like those in our schools, but instead we have the constant fear of "what if." As students, we are the ones who have to suffer with these thoughts, we are the ones who know how it feels and it's time for us to stop worrying about what might happen, but what if we didn't have to worry? What if our schools were places we didn't have to be scared in? We are the future, and enough is enough.

— Traci Millager, 11th grade

Why More People Should be Carrying Guns

Gun control is a sensitive subject in America. There are many people who want stricter gun control or even the complete banning of guns, while others oppose the banning laws. The solution to gun violence isn't to ban guns but, rather, to give training to people willing to go through a concealed carry course or help them get proper education on gun safety. More than 95 percent of mass shootings are committed in gun-free zones. These areas are targets because there is little retaliation against the shooter and by the time the police arrive on scene the damage has already been done. To prevent more shootings at schools, the banning of guns is not the proper way to go about it. Instead, teachers who already have concealed carry licenses should be allowed to carry on campus. Also, teachers who want to be trained in firearm safety and get a concealed carry license should be able to get funding from the school. If people knew the teachers were armed and trained, they would be less likely to enter with a gun or other weapon because they would know that they would get stopped quickly. Even if the shooter still decided to shoot, the teachers would be able stop them before mass damage could be done. With an IWB (inside the waistband) holster, you could have it hidden beneath your clothes preventing students from getting it as well as being able to quickly pull it out if needed.

The Parkland shooting wasn't the fault of the gun but, instead, it was the fault of the law enforcement and local FBI office. There were more than 20 reports to law enforcement about Cruz's obsession with guns, violence and becoming a school shooter. The officer on scene also went against protocol and didn't enter the building Cruz was in. The lack of action by the law enforcement and not forwarding the reports to the FBI where proper action could have been taken to prevent this tragedy was part of the reason it happened. Banning guns would not solve this problem. People would find ways to get guns illegally and law abiding citizens couldn't stop them. The reason that the Sutherlands Springs shooter was stopped was because of a citizen legally carrying a gun. He became the NRA's hero after the shooting to show that not all guns are bad and, with proper training, they can save lives.

— Ian Trump, 11th grade

Guns and Why They're Important

I am tired of going to school and being afraid of being murdered. I do not want to be left defenseless to a maniac with a gun. I am tired of not having some sort of defense from a man with a weapon. I am tired of not being able to fully focus on my studies because of the fear of death. I am tired of being tired. I am tired of liberals using school shootings to stir up fears to disarm the working class while not realizing the bigger problems of our oppressive school system and alienation from society. I am tired of conservatives who blame and vilify mentally ill people who are used as scapegoats while the real problem is their surroundings and their inability to access  free mental health care.

The Second Amendment states that "a well regulated militia" is "necessary to the security of a free State" and that "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." This means that the government cannot take away weapons or ban them without violating the Constitution. Any banning of guns is unconstitutional. If the government starts banning guns, they're just asking for a dictatorship (or planning one). In World War II, the leader of Japan said he wouldn't invade because there would be a rifle behind every blade of grass. Guns protect us from all invaders, foreign and domestic.

I have heard the question "Why do you need an assault rifle?" over and over again, and the answer is quite simple. I don't. It is not a need, it is a right, just like you don't need freedom of religion or speech, just like you don't need freedom from slavery, just like you don't need a fair and speedy trial. All of these things are rights.

There is very little that can be done to stop an unstable, wealthy man from getting ahold of a firearm, whether it be a father's gun cabinet not properly being locked, having no prior known mental health issues, or having prior known mental health issues and simply going to a gun show. There are only three things that can help to prevent school shootings before they happen and stop them quickly when they occur: education on weapons, early access to mental healthcare and armed schools.

Schools, movie theaters, nightclubs and concerts are targeted for most for these tragedies. Why? They have many people in close quarters and very little to no security. The only way to stop these tragedies is to increase the security and arm the people.

— Will Clark, 11th grade

Education is Key

I started hunting when I was 11. I knew at that age the responsibility of having a gun in my hand, and even just having some in the safe at home. My father always promoted our Second Amendment rights. I grew up being taught that guns kill, but guns also protect. You're not always going to have time for police to show up when there's an intruder in your home, you need to learn to defend yourself. It is our right to wield a gun whether for hunting or protection.

Not all people are responsible or coordinated enough to have a gun, like we should have more thorough testing for a license, police background checks, mental stability (if anything runs in the family), before allowing someone to buy any type of gun. But those who are qualified should have the choice of carrying.

Having a gun-free zone is more dangerous than an armed teacher. Gun free means an easy target. Just because there's a law to ban assault rifles, does not mean people can't buy them. That just makes it illegal. But that won't make a difference to people. Drugs are illegal and people still have the ability to obtain drugs. Laws don't make a difference to someone who wants something.

The federal government has intervened multiple times while trying to make our country and schools safe. Doing so, they have sparked controversy on whether or not the new laws are infringements upon the people's rights. Disarming law abiding citizens has shown to have failed many times. Before such laws were implemented, including the Assault Weapons Ban of 1986, the Gun-Free School Zone Act in 1990 and the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, the rate of school and mass shootings was far lower than today. The push for an assault weapons ban and minimal age raise has been a controversial topic for decades, not only due to the questionability of it being unconstitutional, but also the effectiveness of yet another ban. The FBI stated in 2012 that there were a total of 8,855 total firearm related homicides, 6,371 of those were handguns.

I know some people believe "nobody needs guns" but that doesn't stop a man from coming into your home with one, does it? How is one to protect his or herself from a shooter? Run? Hide? Whether you run or hide, there's the possibility you aren't running fast enough. Or there is nowhere to hide. Wouldn't you want a gun to protect yourself rather than to be defenseless? I know if I was in danger I would want a gun to defend myself. People should teach their children the responsibility of owning a gun and educate them on the needs for one as well as how to use one.

— Kylie Jones, 11th grade

Gun Fever: The Ease of Getting a Gun

We are only in the third month of 2018 and the amount of times I've heard about a school shooting is ridiculous. There have been at least 14 school shootings in America, according to CNN. Most of these shootings were done by 15 year olds. How in the holy heck do 15 year olds get ahold of a gun? Parents and illegal gun dealers(IGD), that's how. The fact that there have been arguments about changing the gun laws is nuts; our gun laws are just fine but we need to start enforcing them.

Parents do not put their firearms away properly because it's easier to get to if it's on the nightstand loaded, just in case someone breaks into your house. I totally understand why you would put the gun there, but you, as a parent, need to make sure no one can get ahold of your firearm unless it's you or your partner. So how can parents stop school shootings? You need to put your firearm in a safe. Talk to your student; ask them about their school life. Are they getting bullied? Is everything at school going great? Do you feel like you have friends that will stand up for you? All those question are 1,000 percent acceptable.

In places like Los Angeles or Florida, two places where shootings have happened this year, it's super easy for a 15 year old to go buy a gun from a IGD. In the show Shameless, there is an episode where Carl is selling guns out of the school bathroom. Students and teachers were buying these guns. The episode show students how easy it is to get illegal guns. So how can we as a society stop school shootings? Stop making shows that make it look easy to get a gun and start making it look hard to get one. The fact of the matter is when you go to get, let's say a handgun, you need to pass a gun safety test, then you pick the firearm you want and you have to pass a background check, but that's not when you get the physical gun. You get the gun after a 10-day "cooling off" period; it's such a hard process and I didn't give you all the steps. It's honestly not guns fault people die, it's the fault of our society making it look easy to reach guns by showing IGD .

Last year at Fortuna High, there was a bomb threat. A student heard a rumour that at least two students were going to try to bomb the school pep rally. The student who heard this rumour went and talked to a teacher. Then the teacher and student took the information to the school's vice principal and the school took care of the rest. But what if the student didn't tell the teacher about the rumor? We would have had the rally and could have been bombed. Yes, it was mustard gas, and it would have hurt the students puting the bomb together before it hurt any other student, but it's the thought of having a bomb go off when the whole school was in one place. That's what scared us the most.

Ever since 2018 started and all these shootings happened, parent are scared to send their kids to school. No one should be afraid of going to school to get shot or bombed, but it's the reality we have been living. Fortuna High is lucky to have a campus supervisor and this year we added a School Resource Officer (SRO). If schools make it easier to talk to an adult, there will hopefully be a decrease in school shootings.

We as a country cannot change the gun laws and expect that there would be less gun-related attacks. Changing the gun laws would make it harder to get a gun, yes, but people who want to hurt people would find a way to get guns. It will make it easier to get an illegal gun. Law abiding citizens will have a harder time getting guns but a criminal won't. Let me make this clear: Illegal gun dealers are still a thing!!! No matter how strict the gun laws are, there will still be gangs who deal illegal guns to people. My argument is enforce the gun laws we have and to make those laws nationwide. Parents need to check up on their students to see how they doing emotionally in school and to keep their kids on track, no matter how difficult it is. We don't need more gun laws that are just going to go unnoticed. Teach students the dangers of guns but also the good in guns. We don't need people afraid of guns; we need people aware of the power of guns.

— Julia Lowry

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