Lack of gun law revision still poses immense threat to youth, children

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Yesterday, Feb. 14, was Valentine’s Day. It was also the anniversary of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — a tragedy that sparked the long-overdue debate on our national gun laws. While the movement has somewhat fizzled out of the everyday news, the issue with lack of gun control is still at large. Yesterday, all Westlake students took a moment of silence — 17 seconds for the 17 victims — to reflect on the loss that shook the nation. On the holiday of love, it’s important to acknowledge the harsher realities of the world that plague even schools.

 

Before the Parkland shooting, and the long string of horrific copy-cats that followed it, I had always viewed school as an institution of safety, built to foster learning and success. The shootings made me reevaluate that naïve sense of safety. I learned that, without proper laws regulating firearms or other weapons, even the safest of places and the most innocent of people — children — could be affected by the poor decisions made by the adults in positions of power and influence.

 

It was a frightening wake-up call for students around the country. At Westlake, teachers and staff briefed students on what to do in the case of an emergency. The school printed posters guiding students on how to escape in an emergency and upped school security. It was especially scary to read, in a recent New York Times article, a quote from 16-year-old, Parkland survivor Anna Crean.

 

“When I was in seventh grade, a teacher told us Parkland was a bubble,” Crean said to the New York Times. “She said, ‘Someday, something bad’s going to happen here, and the bubble’s going to burst.’”

 

Westlake is commonly referred to as being insulated in a similar type of “bubble.” Compared to other schools in Austin, it has a lower crime rate and is located in what is considered the wealthier part of the city. To see a school with such similar demographics and lifestyle to mine opened my eyes to the ubiquitous threat guns posed to every school in the nation, regardless of wealth or average GPA.

 

So, what’s been done since then to prevent these tragedies from happening again? Quite plainly, nothing.

 

For all the marches down to city halls, for all the fundraisers for victims families, for all the spirited chants of “Never Again!”, for all the researched proposals to change loose laws. For all of that, there has been no effective political change. Sure, the chain of school shootings of 2018 has subsided for now, but in the unfortunate event that it starts up again — and history suggests it will — our youth will, again, be at risk due to the same lack of laws as before.

 

According to the New York Times, “The only significant national change was a ban on bump stocks,” but that most laws proposed by Democrats have been blocked from passing due to the majority Republican presence on the Senate and the Republican president.

 

To me, it is absolutely absurd that the leaders of our country would sacrifice the lives of children for the sake of maintaining a good political face for their party. It is concerning how they are able to depersonalize these deaths to preserve an amendment written during a time when organized militias were an ordinary part of society. The broadness of the Second Amendment has been manipulated as a defense against liberals pushing for restrictions on the loose gun laws currently in place. If the government could find a happy medium between liberal and conservative gun-law advocates, it would be better than the complete stagnation of progress that is currently happening in the government.

 

We’ve petitioned, we’ve chanted, we’ve marched. And now, we’re begging. We cannot forget the losses at Parkland, Columbine, Santa Fe, Kansas City and many others. During these times of relative safety, it is important to keep pushing to preserve the peace. Call your congress representative and continue to bring up the conversation. We cannot settle until there are new laws in place protecting our schools and communities from gun violence.

 

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