Is There an Answer to America’s Gun Problem?

Gun violence and it’s ever- increasing prevalence is and has been an intense and divisive issue in America for nearly half a century and seems to be going nowhere soon. News reports of deadly mass shootings such as those seen in Las Vegas in 2017, which resulted in the death of 59 concertgoers, and the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, which left 50 dead have littered both international and domestic news outlets for the last half decade and called many citizens to take up camps and declare their views of gun control versus the Second Amendment Right right to bear arms.  

         This issue and debate have recently gathered new, and quite firm, ground. However as the tragic trend of school shootings has become more prominent than ever in the last decade the topic of gun control has circulated around students, schools and keeping the places that the two meet as safe as possible. 

          The most recent school shooting to grip America and elevate the topic of gun control to new heights occurred on Feb. 14 when gunman Nikolas Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. and opened fire on students and faculty leaving 17 dead and 15 wounded.  

          The incident almost immediately raised questions regarding further regulation and a potential ban of all firearms while also fostering a counter-argument that a better way to protect students and schools from these situations in the future would be to arm teachers and elevate security measures. While there are pros to each of these arguments, there are also many examples of past gun violence that ultimately cloud any definitive solution to the matter. 

          In the wake of the Parkland shooting, the gun control conversation has significantly revolved around the heightened regulation and abolition of firearms and has found ground behind the voices of survivors from the shooting. This approach however poses major difficulties as many of these proposed regulations already exist in some form yet are regularly disobeyed.  

          This can be observed in many situations such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in which gunman Adam Lanza used his mother’s guns to kill her and 26 others in Dec. of 2012. Also the Charleston church shooting in which gunman Dylan Roof, who killed nine people in June of 2015, legally purchased a handgun despite having a misdemeanor drug charge which should have kept him from obtaining the firearm. In both cases we see that individuals who either had no true possession or no right to possess a firearm would go on to end the lives of dozens of people. 

          On the other hand, many pro-gun activists have refuted the impulse to remove guns from society and argued that the best option to protect students from mass shootings would be to arm teachers and bring more security into schools. While these options would increase the ability of those present to defend themselves from shooters, it would also bring more risk into schools every day. With more guns present, ideally one in every classroom, students would be exposed to the ever present danger of an accidental firing as well as the danger that comes with arming people who live with the daily stress of teaching children.  

          Evidence of these risks have been very present even in the weeks following the Parkland shooting as a teacher at Dalton High School in Dalton, Ga. locked his classroom and fired a shot through an exterior window on Feb. 28.  Similarly, a teacher who is also a reserve police officer at Seaside High School in California accidentally fired his gun into the ceiling, injuring three students on March 13.  

          In both of these cases we see that arming teachers is not an adequate solution due to the ever present danger of human error and the risk that is included in placing armed individuals in stressful environment. 

                      Given the sensitive nature of the topic it is important to continue seeking answers but it is dangerous to fully assume any solution to be correct in any and all circumstances. As we seek these answers we must realize that differing opinions and lifestyles should be taken into consideration and that the best solution for one person may not be the best for another. All in all we must be concerned with the growing trend of mass shootings and their movement into schools all over the country as we search to address and correct whatever the causes may be for these heinous acts. 



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