On February 14, 2018, a day when most of the world was celebrating love and religion, a terrorist walked into Stoneman Douglas High School and opened fire on students and faculty. Armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, multiple magazines of ammunition, and smoke grenades, Nikolas Cruz killed 16 fellow students and one faculty member before leaving the school and being apprehended almost an hour later by police and FBI. As the dust settles on the deadliest school shooting since 2012 and the eighteenth school shooting in 2018 alone, this tragic event reopens the never-ending debate on gun control and mental health.
In solidarity and support of the survivors and victims of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, many schools across the country have organized walkouts, advocating for stricter gun-control laws and more mental health resources for troubled students. In a political climate that has been proven to be volatile, the survivors of this recent shooting have yelled their voices to the very top and gained the attention of the world. With the help of national news coverage, the graphic and powerful videos taken by the survivors, and the speech given by one of the survivors, Emma Gonzalez, students all over the country have been raising their voices in favor of anti-gun laws and more strict regulations. “If all our government and president can do is send ‘thoughts and prayers’, then it’s time for victims to be the change that we need to see,” said Gonzalez at a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
There have been many talks from all spheres of the political spectrum on what approach should be taken to reduce the amount of deaths by the triggers of guns. There have been proposals to arm teachers, but how can we give teachers guns if we can barely afford to give them school supplies? Why should guns be given out to teachers when they can just as easily purchase one on their own? The answer to gun violence is not more guns; in fact, it is the complete opposite. Stricter rules need to be in place, and this goes much further than proposing a three-day waiting period on purchasing guns.
If the United States is to see any real change, we need to look at our foreign counterparts on guidance to resolve this issue. Australia has not had a gun massacre since 1996 after implementing strict gun laws. Japan has regulations upon regulations which has kept its yearly gun-related homicides below the tens. In the United Kingdom, there has been only one mass shooting since strict gun-control laws were placed in 1997 after the Dunblane school massacre. In 2017, there were over 1500-gun related deaths and over 300 mass shootings in the United States alone.
In a past article written by the Quaker Campus’ Co-Editor-In-Cheif, Ty Lopez, he called for criticism regarding the silence and whispers of this shooting by our own campus. While we went about our days, lives were taken and families were changed. While the Las Vegas shooting back in October happened during a weekend, the Whittier College community received an email the very next day regarding the tragedy and offered their resources. However, we had to wait almost a full week before any email was sent out regarding the tragedy in Florida. It makes me question how aware we are as a campus on events happening around us. In the same article written by Lopez, he mentioned how the city of Whittier almost became number 19 on the list of school shootings to happen in 2018. The potential disaster at El Camino High School was thwarted by campus police overhearing threatening comments made by a student, leading to the arrests of two brothers and the multiple confiscation of rifles and ammunition. Not once did I hear about this while on campus from students or faculty. The silence on our campus is deafening and it is time to raise our voices to stop the violence, ignorance, and naivety.
As a campus that is passionate about our rights and fighters of democracy, we need to make ourselves known with the rest of the country. On March 14, 2018, at 10 a.m. there will be a walkout to protest gun violence, for 17 minutes — one minute for each of the fallen victims from the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. This walkout comes exactly a month after the day of the shooting and is being organized by EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March. Whittier joins a list of approximately 230 colleges that have issued statements that they will not punish students for staging a “respectful and peaceful protest against gun violence.” The list is being kept by MIT, as well as other lists being compiled by the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and the Never Again Action list by UC San Diego. Whittier joins the likes of fellow schools such as Pomona, Pitzer, Chapman, Cal Tech, Occidental, Redlands, Yale, Syracuse, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, and many, many more.
No one should have to leave their home and live in fear that they may be the next victim in a mass shooting. No one’s children, sibling, parent, or friend should have to attend the funerals of others because of non-regulated guns. We, as a people and as a community, need to stand strong to show that there is no need for guns on the streets. Never again should we have to go through another mass shooting.