There are whispers that this time is different, that maybe after this school shooting, the 200th one since 2012, changes will be made. What’s so different about Parkland, the school shooting that occured on February 14th? This time, the students are taking a stand. Students all across America are letting it be known that they don’t feel safe at school, that they aren’t comfortable with the limited regulations that are currently in place, and that they are angry that their representatives haven’t done more to protect them.
Here are some quick facts on the matter:
The shooter in Parkland, Florida used an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. This is the most commonly purchased rifle in America.
Shooters in five out of the six deadliest shootings in the past six years used an AR-15
While it is semi-automatic, hundreds of rounds can be fired within minutes. Especially if there is a “bump stock” attached, which allows a semi-automatic to act more like an automatic rifle (the Parkland shooter did not use a bump stock, but the shooter in Las Vegas did).
AR-15s were originally designed for military use, to kill enemy fighters.
You have to be 21 to buy a handgun.
You only have to be 18 to buy an AR-15 in 42 out of 50 states.
Hold up. Why is it that you can purchase a far deadlier weapon three years earlier than you can a handgun? I am inquiring because this makes absolutely no sense. Furthermore, not one politician has taken steps to increase the age one can purchase a semi-automatic rifle. Might the National Rifle Association (NRA) have something to do with this?
The week following the shooting, President Trump mentioned that he supported raising the age limit. One week and one meeting with NRA chief lobbyist Chris W. Cox later, Mr. Trump has yet to mention raising the age limit again. After meeting with Mr. Cox, President Trump said, “Don’t worry about the NRA They’re on our side. You guys—half of you are so afraid of the NRA. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” I would disagree with Mr. Trump on this statement. I do not believe the NRA is on our side, and I do believe we have something to be afraid of. The NRA. is the most powerful special interest group on the Hill. They financially and verbally support virtually every representative who supports the Second Amendment, and therefore they have control over nearly every Republican senator, representative, governor, mayor—you name it, the NRA has their money in the pot.
I knew this long before February 14. What I did not know is how many privately and publicly owned businesses had agreements with the NRA In the weeks following the shooting, FedEx, Delta, MetLife, and Enterprise terminated deals that gave discounts to NRA members. I was startled that so many companies whose products and services citizens use in their everyday day lives had alliances with the NRA. And I was upset that it took threats of customer boycotts—not the deaths of hundreds of children over the past decade—for these companies to change their practices. To sum up: the NRA’s unhealthy degree of influence in our politics, combined with the fact that they are doing little to nothing to push for regulations concerning advanced background checks or increased age limits for purchasing assault rifles, leads me to believe that the NRA is not on our side and that we should be afraid of it.
Moving on from the monstrosity that is the NRA, Mr. Trump’s alternative solutions include supporting an increased background check bill (yay), banning bump stocks (yay), and arming every teacher in schools (nay). It troubles me that anyone thinks the latter would be an effective solution. The possibilities for disaster are endless. I don’t feel the need to go into detail on this matter, as the list would take up pages and it saddens me to think about the details. This is my vow: if legislation to arm every teacher is passed, I will not return to high school until it is repealed. (Sorry Mom and Dad. Colleges: please do not resend my acceptances.) I make this statement because I think such legislation would be killed before it took flight. But then, I also thought it would be impossible for a reality TV star to be president.
Here is the (even) more emotionally charged section of this editorial, and it’s based slightly less on factual evidence than what you’ve read so far. When people hear Birmingham, Alabama, they think of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, they think of the marches in Kelly Ingram Park, they think of children being blasted with fire hoses and attacked by police dogs. Students taking a stand is what our city is known for, and we have been presented with an opportunity to contribute to a narrative much larger than ourselves.
While it is crucial to practice lockdown drills, I shouldn’t only be planning my escape route from every location on campus in case we have a shooter. Our parents shouldn’t be scared when they say goodbye every morning. We should be distracted in class by the lunch menu, not online footage of policemen outside of high schools.
What is the reasoning behind our society’s fierce and adamant protection of guns? For sport? You love a game more than you hundreds of humans lives? Is it because the Second Amendment says so? Here is the Constitution’s Second Amendment, word for word: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” When it is necessary to organize a militia because the security of a free state is being infringed, we can talk about that. Until then, I don’t want to hear “What about the Second Amendment?” one more time.
On March 24th, March For Our Lives is organizing a walkout for seventeen minutes to honor the seventeen lives taken by an AR-15 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I hope everyone joins us in recognizing those who passed on far too early in life. The names of the victims appear below.
Alyssa Alhadeff, 14 years old
Scott Beigel, 35 years old
Martin Duque Anguiano, 14 years old
Nicholas Dworet, 17 years old
Aaron Feis, 37 years old
Jamie Guttenberg, 14 years old
Chris Hixon, 49 years old
Luke Hoyer, 15 years old
Cara Loughran, 14 years old
Gina Montalto- 14 years old
Joaquin Oliver, 17 years old
Alaina Petty, 14 years old
Meadow Pollack, 18 years old
Helena Ramsay, 17 years old
Alex Schachter, 14 years old
Carmen Schentrup, 16 years old
Peter Wang, 15 years old
- Ada Cohen '18