Salem Students on Gun Violence

*All views expressed in the opinion section are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Salemite
VERITY WILCHER

On Feb. 14, there was yet another school shooting in Parkland, Florida. There were 17 dead and 17 injured. This tragedy sparked yet another debate among Americans–should we be arming teachers? Is the country safe right now? What can be done to prevent another tragedy such as this one? As well as the rest of the country, several students weighed in on these harrowing questions.

Let me start by saying, I don’t like guns. I didn’t grow up around them. I’ve never held or shot a gun before in my life, nor do I really want to. I don’t think we should arm teachers, nor do either my parents who were public school teachers for the past thirty years. Schools are not safe places for guns, in my opinion. I don’t think there is any sort of connection between mental illness and mass shootings–I think there’s a connection between white male privilege and mass shootings. I don’t think the second amendment protects semi–automatic guns, nor do I think that the second amendment in general is still relevant. I am that angry liberal that the conservative media is warning you about. That being said, this isn’t just about me and my opinions. This is about what our Salem siblings think about guns and the violence they cause.

I talked to three Salem students–Jordan Wallen, Cynthia Castro and Charnise Jenkins–who all had varying answers to the questions proposed by myself and the country’s discourse.

None of the students I interviewed felt safe in the country right now. Both Castro and Jenkins are women of color, which is part of the reason they don’t feel safe in a country that is headed by a racist administration. All three students felt like there are too many tensions in the country, surrounding race, gender, sexuality, and violence tied to those identities to feel safe in our country. The recent shootings added to that feeling of discomfort.

When asked how gun violence could be prevented, Wallen simply said, “making guns harder to get a hold of would prevent more gun violence.” Jenkins said that she wouldn’t ban all guns, but she would, like Wallen, make it harder to get guns–she would up the age people are allowed to purchase guns and make it mandatory for people to get background checks when buying a gun. Castro also advocated for more gun control, though she suggested a gradual change.

If you look at Australia and literally almost any other developed country in the global north, you will see a trend of gun violence and mass shootings decreasing when guns are banned. Simply put, when the majority of people can’t get their hands on guns, there is less gun violence as there are less guns in circulation. Shocking stuff, I know.

When asked if teachers should be armed and if a school was a safe place for a gun, all three students said no. None of the students interviewed thought it was safe for teachers to be armed, and there are facts to back this up. According to CNN and several other sources, a teacher in California accidentally fired a gun which incidentally injured a student on March 15. Strange how no one saw that coming, isn’t it?

Both Castro and Wallen said the second amendment of the US Constitution was antiquated and outdated, respectively. The second amendment was written in 1791 by people that owned other people. Clearly our country has evolved since then; perhaps so should our legislation.

When asked about gun control, the three students had varying opinions, though there was one central tenant–what is happening right now is simply not enough. Jenkins stated, “I like that there is gun control, but I don’t think it [the current system] is very effective.” Castro said, “There’s no gun control at the moment…  It’s not enough.” Wallen stated, “I don’t think we need to send the army through the streets collecting everyone’s guns, like some people we all want them to do. A background check is not unreasonable, selling guns at Walmart is ridiculous.” I happen to agree with all three of them–the system right now is ineffective and simply not doing enough to protect people.

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