• Esther Kim

Next Target: Schools

Columbine. Sandy Hook. Stoneman Douglas. Virginia Tech. Umpqua Community college. Santa Monica College. These few schools are among the 251 elementary, middle, and high school shootings as well as 75 college campus shootings that have occurred since 1968 in the U.S. Total: 326 school shootings with more than 440 students and faculty dead and about 770 wounded within the past 50 years. These statistics are hard to digest and accept and believe me, I took about 5 minutes to process all of that information and continue writing. With all of this in mind, you might ask yourself since when did the United States of America, a country once believed to be filled with hope, freedom, and success for the future generations, turn into a place of fear, division, and failure? In the 1920s, people from all over the world aspired to move to America, to start a new life of safety and liberty, confer the best education for their children, and live happily ever after. Today, we live in constant fear and frustration due to the decisions of the government, parents worrying about the protection of their children, and students thinking, “Will someone shoot my school today? Will I die today?” Students should never, in any way, need to question their safety in their school because it is like our second home. We leave our house early in the morning to go to school and stay there for 7 hours or more and come back, only to start that cycle all over again the next day. If we do not feel fully protected in our building, even with security guards, security cameras, and alarms, then this is a sign alerting us that the government is doing something wrong. Freedom has been exploited in the U.S., such that anyone, as young as 18, can enter a gun store and walk out with a AR-15, a rifle used in the Parkland shooting in February of this part year. There is no skepticism around the idea that the government has been doing minimal work to increase gun control laws in this country. Everytime someone confronts a representative from the NRA,

Congress, or the president himself, they always reply with some non-related excuse, only to place false hope and more frustration on the people. After the Parkland shooting, President Trump was tweeting about the attempts to tighten the gun laws to inform the people about the “progress” Congress was making. However, it seemed like those tweets were again another one of his promising unfulfilled actions. For example, a week after the Parkland shooting, President Trump tweeted that he would raise the gun age limit from 18 to 21. However today, 18 year olds can still obtain a rifle from their nearby gun store, which is no different than from 10 months ago when he announced this tweet. This was the same result for universal background checks, which was largely supported by the American people. The progress on gun control that has been made ever since the horrifying Las Vegas shooting is a true disappointment from the political powers. Although historic movements like #NeverAgain reached the hearts and minds of the American people, it seems like some politicians in Congress and representative of the NRA brushed it away as if it was some unnecessary act demonstrated by some group of high school students. This indifference discourages the hopes of the youth, who for some, believe that these powerful politicians are on their side. These politicians seemed to ignore or unable to grasp the whole message behind the movement, which is pretty simple: we need stricter gun laws to prevent more brutal and depressing events like school shootings from happening. If the president or Congress really wants to make America great again, I suggest listening to the voices of the youth because we are the next generation to lead this country forward and we cannot simply do so if shootings happen every year. If they want to earn back their good reputation, I suggest them to ask themselves, “How many more innocent students need to be buried before a change occurs in the legislation?” If they find the right answer, then we might see a little bit of light in the tunnel.

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