By Sophia Alexandrou, Co-Editor in Chief
On November 30, 2021, Oxford High School sophomore, Ethan Crumbley, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, killing four students. During the week of December 6, 2021, White Plains High School received two separate shooting threats. While both posed no danger to the school, these threats highlight how real the threat of school shootings are and are indicative of a broader, national issue that can only be resolved through gun reform.
After hearing the initial gunshots that Tuesday afternoon, students barricaded their classrooms. Within five minutes, Crumbley had shot 11 people, killing three, later increasing to four when a student was unable to survive their injuries. Despite Crumbley showing signs that he might commit a heinous act like this through social media posts about his new guns and disturbing and violent drawings of his gun and bloody bodies, the school did little to prevent this escalation of events.
Crumbley’s parents purchased the gun used in this shooting and gifted to him. It was bought completely legally.
According to Education Week, there have been 32 school shootings in 2021 in the United States. Despite a significant amount of school taking place online due to the pandemic, there still continues to be this staggering a number. In countries like Australia, England, Germany, and France, where gun restrictions are enforced, there haven’t been any this year. The lack of federal efforts to reduce gun violence is a result of representatives blinded by their own privilege and the anti-democratic nature of lobbying.
A significant misconception about the pro-gun control charge is that the goal is to take away every single gun owned by a civilian. This is completely untrue. Many Americans own handguns because they feel safer having that as means of protection. Semi-automatic weapons, not handguns, are used in mass shootings. The reforms that are needed for high school students across the nation to feel safe in their own schools are:
A complete, federal ban on semi-automatic weapons like AR-15s. Allowing individual states to decide a policy like this is ineffective.
The closing of the gun show loophole. There should be required federal background checks done at gun shows, so private sellers are not allowed to sell emotionally disturbed 15-year-olds semi-automatic weapons for a quick buck.
Stricter and more strongly enforced background checks for buyers.
Required competence training and testing when it comes to the use of the gun. It should be harder to obtain a gun license than a driver’s license. Any small misdemeanor involving the use of the gun should result in immediate confiscation.
These are policies that should have been implemented following the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999. However, the continued lobbying of the NRA with some of this country’s weaker-willed politicians prevent this from happening. The fact that this country’s politicians have seen everyone from concert goers to elementary school students become victims of mass shootings, and still continue to accomplish very little in the name of gun reform, makes one wonder what it will take for change to actually happen.
For one day last week, it felt like White Plains High School had the potential to be another headline. Two separate social media posts depicting pictures of guns, one of which contained threatening language, surfaced early last week and was brought to the attention of the school. In the school-wide assembly a few days later hosted by Principal Martinez, Superintendent Ricca, and Detective Brown, it was announced that threats like this are not taken lightly, and these situations were safely handled. Neither of these posts posed any genuine threat to the safety of the student body or the school, but even the possibility of an attack on this school was alarming enough for many students to stay home from school.
Gun violence, specifically mass shootings, is one of the most significant issues facing Americans. In my three years at White Plains High School, there have been three separate times when I genuinely considered and feared that the school was under an attack by school shooters. The lack of action from the government feels like legislators attaching a price tag to the life of every student, concert attendee, movie goer, or American civilian, in general. Without reform, there will only be more violence.