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Point/Counterpoint: More gun control not a viable solution

April 13, 2018

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Two Clarion editors explored two sides of the gun control debate that has recently taken place in our lives. Please understand and respect that these are opinion pieces, and grasp the importance of hearing both sides of an argument.

Point

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On Wednesday, March 14, RB students walked out during the school day to protest gun  violence. The victims were remembered and a call to action was pushed.

I believe there is a time and a place for everything, but commemorating the victims one month after the Florida shooting is not the time or place to push gun laws. The people affected deserve their own time to recuperate and honor the victims. They deserve a time to mourn, not to immediately be pressured by media and questions.

RBHS student Nora Dachota does not support gun control.

“I wholeheartedly send my thoughts, prayers, and support to the victims and those it affected. Although RB was legally obligated to say there was no political motive, depending on who you asked, some would say the walkout was used to bring attention to gun control,” said Dachota. “When there is an event like this when the main goal is clouded by political agenda, it often goes unnoticed due to the many that support the underlying cause.”

Dachota finished her statement with a question:

“What kind of society do we live in today that politicians prey on tragedies and loss to further their political agenda?” said Dachota.

The idea of waiting for a tragedy to happen so politicians can push their views sickens me. Politicians prey on victims and people affected to get votes and support. Media channels often focus on and enlarge small problems to blow them out of proportion. For example, the media makes it seem like the largest reason people are dying is because of firearms, but the leading cause in 2016 is heart disease at 23.1%. The second leading cause is malignant neoplasms at 21.8%, third is accidents (unintentional injuries) at 5.9%, fourth is chronic lower respiratory diseases at 5.6%, etc. Firearms don’t make the top ten. In fact, it falls in the other category with less than 1.6%.

Everyday 34 people are murdered from gun violence, excluding suicide, unintentional, and legal intervention. On average Planned Parenthood performs 3,000 abortions per day.

If you want to stop innocent lives from being taken, stop taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, do not take away guns.

When an attack does unfortunately happen, who do you call? The reasonable answer is the police, or someone with a gun. You wouldn’t expect an unarmed man to stop an armed one.

In October 2017 a man in New York city deliberately drove a truck through a bicycle path killing eight people. In August 2017 a man in Barcelona deliberately drove his car into a group of pedestrians killing 13 people and injuring more than 100. In April 2017 there was a deliberate car attack on a shopping street in Stockholm killing five people. In December 2016, there was a deliberate car attack in Berlin killing 12 people. The latest deadliest attack was in July 2016 in France when a man drove a truck into a crowd killing 86 people.

Are they going to ban cars next? Are they going to make all the law abiding citizens turn in their cars? It is illogical. If you have a driver’s license, and can legally drive, why should you turn your car in?

Many people do not realize that pushing gun laws isn’t going to stop anything. It’s not going to stop a criminal from buying a gun off the black market or off the street. Criminals do not follow the law. It’s only going to hurt and disarm law abiding citizens. A huge chunk of devastating shootings occur in gun free zones. The law doesn’t stop criminals.

Chicago has some of the most strict guns laws in the country and yet, still holds majority of shootings and gun crimes. It is fact, not opinion.

There was a recent shooting at the Youtube headquarters in Northern California. The shooting did occur in a gun free zone. California also has some of the most strict gun laws in the country.

“We generally think of California as having the strongest gun laws in the country. The whole state’s laws are pretty strong,” said Hannah Shearer, a staff attorney at the Law center to Prevent Gun Violence.

According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, 98% of all mass shootings have occured in a gun free zone.

I agree with Kenna in the sense that teachers should not be carrying guns. Most teachers are not trained and may not be mentally stable. It would be rather scary to have a chronically angry teacher carry a gun. It would raise other problems against defenseless kids.

Counter-point

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On Wednesday, March 14, RB students walked out during the school day to commemorate the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and to give those affected by gun violence a platform to mourn or address their feelings.

This was the best time to take 17 minutes out of your day to remember these 17 lives. The anniversary of this massacre as the day to take action proved that this will not be another tragedy that is forgotten in the midst of other disasters. This was the best place to protest: school. A place to engage in civic education and civil disobedience and the place where so many shootings are happening. The rhetoric of “it can’t happen here” is no longer valid. Since 2013, there have been more than 300 school shootings in America — an average of about one a week. Living so close to Chicago, where this epidemic of gun violence is the most prevalent in society, it is deplorable to ignore the senseless acts of violence that don’t occur in schools. The gun violence occurring in America is no small issue that is being “blown out of proportion by the media.”

The reason why people dismissed previous movements, such as the ones organized by the Black Lives Matter kids, is because it wasn’t pertinent to their daily lives. Our realities did not align to a point where it was unimaginable that simply leaving your house could result in death, which can occur in impoverished communities in Chicago where gang violence is typical. In the setting of a school in a high-income neighbourhood, it is easier for voters to listen to people who have shared backgrounds and perspectives.

The best way to commemorate all victims of shootings is to ensure that this never happens again.

RB was not just saying that there was a political motive out of a legal obligation. This event was entirely student organized. Ten students, myself included, attended a school safety forum at Willowbrook High School in the wake of the Parkland shooting. We had several meetings before school with each other and with the administration to ensure the security of the event. We spent hours making posters with the victims names and writing our own speeches. While the administration guided us to the safest and most appropriate way to achieve our goals, they did not otherwise influence our actions or the event.

This event occurred to remember the lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS, but it included student speakers and a moment of silence. This event was designed to be whatever students wanted it to be. If people chose to be political in their statements or in their motive behind walking out, that was their personal choice. If students who did not walkout were confused to our motive, it wasn’t that they didn’t hear us. They didn’t listen. We made this event extremely inclusive and our goals were abundantly clear to the great majority of RBHS students through posters and morning announcements. In fact, approximately a little under half of the entire school participated.

Six hundred kids, many opening their jackets to reveal orange apparel and carrying signs to prove their dedication, did not participate in a walkout purely to get out of class. Our hands were freezing as we read our speeches and held up signs with the victims’ names. We were screaming out our words to those who wanted to hear. On behalf of the organizers and those in attendance, I truly believe the great majority of us would do it again. Rain, shine, snow, sleet, before school, these conditions that people throw at us to dissuade the credibility of our own feelings and dedication don’t matter. We would do it again. This is a cause all of us strongly believe in and will fight for as long as we have to.

Of course, there will always be immature kids who are being disrespectful. It was disheartening to myself and many who participated that a small group chose to be loud and misbehave during some speakers. However, if just one person heard one of these victims stories and empathized, or felt represented during the speeches, or saw classmates they don’t typically agree with in the audience and felt connected to their community, or empowered to keep fighting, the event was a success.

Politicians have been preying on tragedy this entire time. In Illinois alone, Representatives Mike Bost ($8,760), Rodney Davis ($45,269), Randy Hultgren ($16, 254), Adam Kinzinger ($6,030), Darin Lahood ($17,990), and John Shimkus ($59, 304) have each taken large sums of money from the National Rifle Association. 84% of Americans support expanding background checks to include private firearm sales and purchases at gun shows, including a majority of Republican respondents. No special interest groups should hold this much power in the United States government.

These people are ignoring the pleas and reasoning of their constituents for money.

The real tragedy is not that politicians are using their platforms during tragedies to voice the true thoughts of the majority of their constituents. It is that the government is no longer representative of the people.

In terms of Hailey’s argument against Planned Parenthood in relation to the lives lost in gun violence, it seems that many people are not as pro-life as they claim to be if they are willing to stand idly by as people continue to die of gun violence. The people in these shootings are innocent and everyone is affected, whereas if a woman chooses not to have a child, it only affects her and her family. Planned Parenthood also offers other imperative health services besides abortions, including screenings for cancer, treating STDs, and working to educate and increase access to healthcare in impoverished communities around the world. Getting rid of Planned Parenthood would be detrimental.

The quantity of lives lost in comparison to other causes of death does not diminish the extent of this issue. 34 people per day is already a monumental number. This does not include the families and communities that are subsequently affected by this violence and changed forever. Significant amounts of people are victims of gun violence every week and they are no less “innocent.”

The “good guy can stop a bad guy” line is basically saying that anyone with a gun can automatically act as trained law enforcement. It is actually more difficult for law enforcement to apprehend shooters when more than one gun is on the scene. Following the shooting of 12 police officers at a demonstration where dozens of open carry activists were present, then-Dallas police chief David Brown said, “We don’t know who the good guy is versus the bad guy when everyone starts shooting.”

Hailey uses an analogy comparing the risk of cars and guns in violent acts. In order to obtain a car, you have to be of a certain age, usually 16, and supply proof of identity. You also have to prove during 30 hours of classroom instruction, 6 hours of in-car driving instruction, and 50 hours of behind-the-wheel driving practice with a licensed driver at least 21 years old that you are capable of safe driving. With guns, an 18-year-old can purchase semi-automatic rifles and shotguns from a licensed seller and it is extremely easy to obtain a gun from unlicensed sellers. There are no thorough safety precautions such as these to obtain a gun. A car is seen as a necessity in today’s society for solely transportation and not usually for malicious actions. A gun, regardless of how it is used, was designed to kill and inflict maximum harm, especially with additions like bump stocks.

It is particularly concerning when people propose that teachers should carry guns. This is something Hailey and I both agree on.

Many people who are passionate and outspoken in the gun debate have not been inside of a high school in decades. We are the ones who fear for our lives when a fire alarm goes off or an announcement starts in the middle of the day. We, the students and teachers, are the ones who are most affected whereas many people are speaking of theoretical situations that they will never face.

Most people do not know what our educators look like today and they are not emotionless machines. The best teachers we have in this society treat the student as a person and they all deserve more respect. They are silly and sarcastic, attentive and supportive to student’s needs outside of the curriculum, ambitious when pushing students to do more, and they are people who share their own lives with us every day.

Imposing guns upon teachers is entirely illogical. The President and Executive Director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which represents 75 police forces from large cities in the USA and Canada, both agree that arming teachers is “not a good idea” and say, “The more guns that are coming into the equation, the more volatility and the more risk there is of somebody getting hurt.”

Teachers are notoriously underpaid and did not commit to serve and protect their school’s security with weaponry when they chose this career. They already go above and beyond their job requirements in a lot of ways by giving students the best opportunities to succeed not only in their education, but acting as a support in all other endeavors. No teacher should be forced with the ethical dilemmas that accompany the ownership of firearms.The teacher-student relationship would fundamentally change when the uncertainty of life or death in a classroom is considered normal and must be counteracted. It destroys the idea of school being a safe haven for all parties involved.

I do agree with Hailey in that the idea of waiting for a tragedy to occur is sickening. However, these tragedies wouldn’t be occurring if people would listen to those affected and take action after the first time.

Chicago does have very strict gun laws, yet still has some of the worst gun violence in the country. However, Chicago receives the majority of its guns from other states like Indiana. This is why we must implement federal laws.

Other countries have had success in their gun control after very few mass shootings, like in Japan or Australia. We should not necessarily adopt these systems for America; however, we could certainly use them as models for the U.S. This epidemic is almost exclusive to America. The primary acts that could prevent gun violence are background checks on all gun sales, red flag laws, prohibiting domestic abusers from owning guns by passing S.1539/H.R. 3207, and raising the minimum age to 21 years old to purchase semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. Of course, this will not stop every shooting in this gun-obsessed country but it will certainly stop massacres every week.

In terms of Riverside Brookfield High School, students are continuing to meet with administration to discuss school safety, climate, and culture in the wake of the Parkland shooting.

Shalah Russell also contributed to this article.

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