By Samantha Milowitz || Layout Assistant
Growing up, I participated in mandatory fire drills; we would line up against the door, laughing and not taking anything too seriously as the alarm blared throughout the school. The teachers would try to tell us how serious this was, but we would never listen; as children, we were invincible and blind to the possibilities of danger in the real world. During my first year working at a day camp, I was introduced to a new drill, a drill I never thought I would need to complete: an active shooter drill. The officer conducting the drill held a gun in one hand, telling us how it would work: We would hear one gunshot and we would have to scatter and hide. That was it. Once the siren went off, we would know the drill was over and we would be able to go back outside. They said we had to be prepared since we were taking care of little children. We asked, “What happens if they find where you are hidden?” We knew, though, what the answer would be. It was the first time I recognized that I was no longer safe in my country, in my school, or in my home. It was the first time I didn’t feel invincible.
With the recent school shooting taking place in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, I could not help but view these school shootings as a new epidemic in America. 17 people were killed in Parkland by an expelled student named Nikolas Cruz. Cruz had been expelled from Douglas High School and was a known “troublemaker.” He was even investigated by the FBI once when he posted a comment on social media stating, “Im going to be a professional school shooter.” All of these signs indicate Cruz as a likely suspect to commit a mass shooting, but why didn’t anyone put these signs together before everything happened? Schools have now started speaking about recognizing these signs in students to avoid further shootings. A video titled, “Evan,” created through the Sandy Hook Promise organization speaks to looking out for the signs of a student school shooter. The fact that there were so many indicators that Cruz was going to be a school shooter, and no one further looked into it, is startling. However, even though we can be aware of the signs of a school shooter, this will not cut off mass shootings at the source. What if it is not a student shooter but an outside person?
A lot of gun supporters blame these school shootings on mental health, but what they do not focus on is that that student or person would not have committed a mass shooting if they didn’t have one thing: a gun. I’m speaking to this now because in light of so many recent shootings, I am tired of waking up in the morning to see that so many innocent lives have been taken because a gun has fallen into the wrong hands. President Trump recently addressed the school shooting in Florida by saying, “mental health is your problem here … this isn’t a guns situation.” How is this still a question after so many shootings have taken place? It is only two months into the year of 2018 and already 1,853 people have died due to gun violence, according to Gun Violence Archive. Although we can recognize that anyone that would kill innocent people must be mentally unstable in some capacity, we must also recognize that those people would not be so dangerous if they didn’t have a gun in their hand.
As I watched President Trump stand on his podium, speaking to how he’s going to visit the survivors in Parkland and how students who feel “lost, alone, confused, or even scared,” should speak up about their issues, I felt like punching the screen. What will it take? There were approximately 307 shootings in 2017, and there have been no moves made by our government to reconstruct our gun laws. I recognize the power of the second amendment, and the right citizens have to own guns in our country, but when that amendment starts to not be regulated so much so that it kills millions of innocent citizens, we have to recognize that something is wrong. If we don’t have people left because of mass shootings, what’s the point in having amendment allowing anyone to own a gun? There is no reason why a 19 year old, who has shown signs of violence, should own a gun. There is no need for any of us to own guns, unless we are protecting ourselves from someone else that has a gun.
I do not believe that we need to abolish the second amendment; we simply need to create more restrictions so that they don’t fall into the wrong hands. Our second amendment was not intended to be used for evil but for protection. If we do not reconstruct our ideas on gun ownership, people will continue to think of guns as just another object and terrible things will continue to happen. I don’t like the world we are living in now, and I know that it shouldn’t have to take every single person going through a mass shooting to figure out that we need restrictions in our gun laws.
No one wants to see children running from buildings, no one wants to wait for a call to see if their friends or family are safe, and no one wants to send their child off everyday, worried that the same thing might happen at their school.
First-year Samantha Milowitz is a layout assistant. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.