However many times we have a school shooting such as Columbine, Sandy Hook or now Uvalde, lawmakers refuse to do much about it. That is, unless you count the many — and virtually worthless — thoughts and prayers that have been given.
I really try to avoid dipping into politics, but as a student, this makes me really, really angry. Lawmakers, particularly those within the GOP, are almost unanimously opposed to any form of gun control. One shooting is bad enough, but we have had school shootings again and again and again. Are we just supposed to hope this won’t happen again? Enough is enough.
All but two House Democrats, and only five House Republicans voted for the latest bill, House Resolution 7910, known as the “Protecting Our Kids Act,” which would raise the gun purchasing age to 21, require background checks, close loopholes in private sales and limit magazine capacity to 15 bullets. That’s a pretty generous compromise, considering what is at stake, and even still it is unlikely to pass the Senate.
A newer, bipartisan package introduced Sunday is even more generous: a slim set of gun safety measures that includes enhanced background checks for prospective gun buyers under 21 and more mental health and safety funding for schools.
We have heard every single possible excuse and reason why we can’t and shouldn’t just have gun control. And at this point, there is no justification for the cavalier way we treat guns. Banning guns is futile, but going after the kinds of guns that are designed for a battlefield and making those kinds of weapons hard to get is something that is totally doable and legitimately needed to put a stop to mass shootings.
People can argue all they want about the Second Amendment and their right to own a gun. But that is not set in stone; these rights are not “God-given.” I would argue that a student’s right to safety in school is far more important than being able to buy a weapon without any inconvenience.
Since our politicians are under extreme political pressure to do the right thing, we have heard some absolutely astounding statements and suggestions to deal with school shootings that completely avoid the topic of gun control. These are worth talking about.
A common one is arming teachers. There are many reasons why this is a terrible idea, but quite simply: Guns do not belong in the classroom. End of discussion. A teacher’s job is to care for their students and educate. Expecting a teacher to use a gun against a shooter who, in some cases, could be a student they have taught, is absolutely insane.
The most popular solution for years, and which has been proposed again both publicly and through amendments to H.R. 7910, is increasing police funding and hiring more school resource officers. This does more harm than good.
A 2019 study by the Journal of Adolescent Health found that the presence of a school resource officer had no association with a reduction in school-shooting severity out of 179 shootings studied.
At Robb Elementary in Uvalde, law enforcement officers reportedly waited for some time to enter the classroom in which the shooter had barricaded himself with students and teachers. While that is not excusable, it is hardly unexpected given the danger of the situation. That is something nobody should have to deal with. We clearly cannot depend on an increase in security to stop shootings, considering perpetrators are often suicidal and have nothing to lose.
More school resource officers won’t solve the problem, either. A 2019 study from the American Civil Liberties Union found that 14 million students go to school with a cop present but without councilors, nurses or psychologists. Those are roles in a school’s faculty that are far more important in spotting the warning signs and intervening in issues that lead to violence. When our schools lack funding to begin with, it makes more sense to put funds where they might actually make a difference.
Unfortunately, even having more nurses and counselors in schools doesn’t change the fact that an 18-year-old can still purchase a gun, or that gas-operated rifles with high-capacity magazines are widely available with little regulation, or that shootings outside of schools remain common.
We are not in a situation where we are being forced to pick between two evils; it is very clear what has to be done. We need gun control, and it is clear we need to fight for it.