Gun violence is horrible, but will only change if we demand it
February 22, 2018
This staff-written opinion won third place for best editorial in the 2018 Collegiate Better Newspaper Contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation. Read more
In one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, 17 people were left dead last Wednesday after a lone gunman armed with an AR-15 opened fire on the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Our country has been developing a pattern. After tragedies such as this, there is a general cry for increased control over gun ownership. However, the conversation immediately shifts away as lawmakers block any radical changes that might threaten their relationship with the National Rifle Association. The message often becomes heavily steeped in politics and the original meaning is ultimately lost.
This time, however, it seems that the public has decided to take matters into its own hands. The students who survived the shooting are taking a bold stand and calling for people across the country to join them. So far, two planned events have been advertised to the public: the National School Walkout on March 14 and the March for Our Lives on March 24. The National School Walkout calls for students, faculty, parents and others to walk out of school for 17 minutes – one minute for each person who was killed in the shooting. The March on Our Lives will be a march on Washington, DC, and other U.S. cities. The aim of the events is to call for Congress to act on gun violence.
The Student Voice is in full support of these protests and strongly encourages students, faculty and staff at UWRF to participate. Gun violence has become a problem we can’t ignore. It has become clear over the past five years that no school is safe, and that Congress will not be doing anything about it unless the public strongly demands it.
Emma Gonzales, one of the surviving students who has been very vocal since the incident, has made the argument that this needs to be the last time something like this happens. Other countries have figured it out; they have much stricter laws on purchasing weapons, and their gun violence numbers are far lower. A person can drink at 18 in many other countries but not buy a weapon. The U.S. has the opposite situation; an 18-year-old with no training and probably less than sufficient maturity is allowed to own a dangerous weapon of war.
The main two things that need to change are background checks and education. Someone who wants to own something potentially dangerous in this country usually needs to learn how to use it first (for instance: cars). Guns should be treated the same way, with a mandatory hunter safety course associated with purchase. Even if that changes, however, it cannot be enforced unless we make background checks more thorough and consistent when buying a firearm. Loopholes that allow people to buy guns without background checks, like gun shows and online purchases, need to be closed.
In order for these things to change, the public needs to demand it. Both sides of the political spectrum need to realize how dangerous this issue is and come together to protest the continued inaction of Congress. Schools should be safe places, and children should not have to fear becoming the next statistic.