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A note from the Editor…

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Fueled by the recent nationwide student walkouts and the worldwide student-led “March for our Lives,” the topic of gun law reform has dominated the national conversation of late. While it is impossible to predict the impact these protests will have, it is beyond obvious that serious changes must be made to combat the outbreak of school shootings our country has endured the last few years.

The debate has been incredibly divisive, with no shortage of comments and opinions from people in all walks of life. Ultimately, there really isn’t a clear-cut answer for how to keep our schools safe. But don’t mention that to “President” Trump or the numerous Republicans who remain enslaved to the NRA and have advocated arming teachers.

The government officials who support arming teachers often suggest that they would need to be heavily trained in gun safety. But even trained professionals are capable of accidentally discharging their weapon and injuring people, which is exactly what happened on March 15 in Seaside, California when a teacher and reserve police officer inadvertently fired his handgun into the ceiling. Fortunately, no one was seriously harmed, but this is exactly the kind of person advocates want armed in schools. Yet it didn’t prevent the risk from outweighing the reward.

A significant portion of the problem is the ever-growing disconnect between our government and its citizens, which was illustrated surprisingly well on Fox News of all places. “By a 13-point margin, voters consider protecting against gun violence more important than protecting gun rights (53-40 percent)”, said Fox. “In addition, there’s substantial support for specific measures to reduce gun violence, including: requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers (91 percent), requiring mental health checks on all gun buyers (84 percent), raising the age to buy all guns to 21 (72 percent), putting armed guards in schools (69 percent), and banning assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons (60 percent).

If the top conservative propaganda machine is reporting this, one would think our Republican-dominated government would be receptive to the beliefs of their constituents. Instead, they have continued to push their own agendas which happen to be funded by the NRA. Six days after 17 students were murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida the states’ House of Representatives voted against a bill to ban assault rifles and high-capacity magazines as students from the school watched from the gallery. But they did vote to declare pornography a “public health risk,” so at least the session wasn’t completely fruitless.

As if that wasn’t enough damning evidence of the governments distorted priorities, former Republican Senator Rick Santorum ridiculed the protesting students after the “March for our Lives.” “How about kids, instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations that when there is a violent shooter that you can actually respond to that,” said Santorum on CNN’s “State of the Union.” So not only does he think CPR is a legitimate solution to gun violence in schools, he is also shaming student-activists for demanding that lawmakers do their job and actually make laws.

Until the government takes action, schools are left to fend for themselves, which has had varying results. Local schoolboards like that of Cambridge Elementary are meeting to vote on locking all doors during the school day. While a school in Pennsylvania has decided to install a five-gallon bucket filled with rocks in each classroom to arm students with in the event of an intruder.

Personally, it is hard for me to relate to what these students are experiencing. It has been 10 years since I was in high school and there wasn’t a single moment when I didn’t feel safe. School shootings were so rare that we didn’t start having lockdown drills until my freshman year, and even then, they were only once a semester and considered more of a formality than an actual simulation that could save our lives.

The bottom line is that we need to restore that feeling of safety in schools that I was fortunate enough to always have. In an ideal world, our government would be able to institute a bipartisan bill to do exactly that without further jeopardizing student wellbeing by arming teachers. But since they have thus far proven incapable, we are fortunate to have millions of youths banding together to force them into action, representing the largest youth-led demonstrations since the Vietnam War protests.

 

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The student-run community news site of Northern Vermont University- Johnson
A note from the Editor…