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February 14, 2019

How teens want to solve America’s school shooting problem

Middle and high school students across the country shared their thoughts on gun violence with the NewsHour after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, one year ago. We thought you’d like to read their voices, since they were very clear in wanting to share them.


We should not have to beg the U.S. to stop letting our friends die

by Carly Novell, 12th grade, Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School, Parkland, Florida

On average, there are about 13,000 deaths in the United States resulting from gun violence each year. Seventeen of those deaths were people I attended school with. People I passed in the halls everyday.

Not many realize how much the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students are grieving. We are traumatized. We are scared. But we are ignoring all of that because we are trying to make a difference. We haven’t had a minute to process or grieve. We are just trying to make sure that this does not happen again. We, as high school students who just went through something traumatic, are forced to beg and plead for change.

Something needs to be done to get semi-automatic guns out of the hands of civilians. Something needs to be done to get firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill. It should not be so easy to obtain a gun. We should not have to beg the U.S. to stop letting our friends die. The NRA has silenced our government for too long. We will not be silenced by the media, by the government, by the president, by the NRA or by anyone for that matter.


I am a proud supporter of the right to own a firearm. Notice I said firearm, not weapon

by Aaron, 12th grade, Alexandria, Indiana

I am a proud supporter of the right to own a firearm. Notice I said firearm, not weapon. A weapon is something used in a harmful manner. Firearms don’t kill people, ignorant people do.

To start with, yes, firearms need to be regulated. Fully automatics are not needed. Bump stocks really don’t matter because with a semi-automatic rifle, the rifle fires as fast as you pull the trigger.

As far as security, schools should have only one entrance and teachers should be given the choice to be armed. Not all educators need to be armed, and no one should be required to do so. Part of the application should include a mental health assessment and a background check. There is no reason why stores should have better security than schools.

We need to find a way to solve these school shootings as a country. Other countries are sitting back watching the U.S. tear itself apart from the inside. Let’s go back to the time that if you had a problem, you just knocked the other person out. You didn’t shoot them.


Students need a designated time to center themselves for school

by Nathan, 12th grade, Chicago, Illinois

One solution is social-emotional learning. Before school, after school and during lunch period, there should be chill-spaces for students to de-stress, talk to a counselor and get themselves ready for the day.

Students have lives outside of school filled with experiences that are either traumatic, mentally exhausting or triggering. A designated time to center themselves for the school day would help. While this solution does not solve the problem of guns in the streets, it does help provide outlets for students who have mental health issues.


A multi-pronged approach to guns is needed, not changes to the Second Amendment

by Maria, 10th grade, Bronx, New York

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

These words, adopted in the Constitution of the United States on December 15, 1791, are not to blame for the recent shootings in the first several weeks of 2018.

The solution to school shootings is regulation of gun laws, not problems with the Second Amendment. It’s not having students practice lock-downs out of fear that an attack like Parkland could happen at their school. And it also doesn’t involve getting caught up in the political ruckus surrounding the the election of 2016. Such behavior serves only as an excuse for our nation to not accomplish its goals, including keeping children safe.

As for gun regulations, our government could learn from other countries like Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom. Japan puts its citizens through a rigorous set of tests which includes a mandatory all-day class. From there, they must take a written test, have a 95 percent accuracy on a shooting-range test, a mental health evaluation and a background check. If that seems like a lot, Japanese citizens must then retake the class and the exam every three years.

Australia paid citizens to sell their firearms back to the government. Firearm homicides in that country dropped 0.15 per 100,000 people in 2006 compared to 0.37 in 1995.

The United States should use a multi-pronged approach in order to take us out of this deep depression. Our leaders need to start giving us hope by taking action.


White privilege is real and Parkland was a clear example of it

by Mya, 11th grade, McKinney, Texas

The problem America has is that we give everyone a gun without any mental health testing. We need to be more like other countries and require screenings. You can’t blame the entire problem of gun violence on the mentally ill either. We need stricter laws when it comes to gun control. Also, it should be illegal for a politician to take money from an organization such as the NRA.
Politicians who choose money over children’s lives are heartless human beings.

After seeing the event unfold on television, this incident made me realize that we don’t just have a gun control issue, but we also have a race issue. If the shooter was a different race other than white, they would’ve killed him on the spot instead of arresting him. Race should not be a factor when it comes to life or death. White privilege is real and Parkland was a clear example of it.


Right to live outweighs the right to shoot

by Ryan Deitsch, 12th grade, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida

This country is a place I truly love; this government, however, has not gained my favor. Those in leadership consolidate power instead of legislate it. There is no good and bad I see here, only what is right for the American people, what is right for all people. I don’t want to infringe on the rights of man, but the right to live should far outweigh the right to shoot.

Thoughts and prayers are one of many coping mechanisms, and I praise those who put myself and others in their hearts, however, humanity is here to care for the Earth bestowed upon us. I see no better way to care for the world than to protect the lives of the innocent and take action where it must be taken.


Eden asked Sen. Chuck Grassley a question about assault weapons at a recent town hall in Manchester, Iowa.

I have had enough of sitting around while adults do nothing

by Eden, 12th grade, Iowa City, Iowa

When I was 10, one of my friends and classmates was murdered. His father beat him, his three siblings, and their mother to death with a bat. Afterwards, Seth’s father called the police to report the deaths and fled the home.

At the time, there was a great deal of confusion. No one knew where he was. No one knew if he was armed. No one knew what he might do. Fearing that he might come to the school, Longfellow Elementary went into lockdown. In Mrs. Dillard’s second-grade class, we sat in silence. The teachers said nothing. They didn’t know what to say. How can you explain something like this to a child? We knew nothing. And so we sat in our corner, in the dark and in the silence.

I have had enough silence.

I have had enough of being in the dark. I have had enough of sitting around while adults do nothing. I am not content with being in the corner anymore.

Change will not come on its own. We have to make it for ourselves. The adults have proven that they are unwilling to move beyond thoughts and prayers. We must force them into action.

That includes my own senators: Joni Ernst, who has accepted millions of dollars from the NRA, and Chuck Grassley, who has accepted hundreds of thousands. Is this how much our lives are worth?

We may not have the power, the resources, or even the ability to vote, but we do have our voices. In America, there is no weapon more powerful.

For me, this conversation started with Seth, and with my own fear that followed. The next school year, we planted trees behind Longfellow for each member of the family. They’ve grown now, leaves sprouting and dying and falling with the seasons. Their branches have faded into the background, blending with the lines of trees behind them. But after ten years, I think their roots are finally spreading.


My family is scared to send me to school

by Kearra, 11th grade, McKinney, Texas

“What are we supposed to do? Send our kids to school with bulletproof vests?” My mom said to me yesterday. Instead of worrying about our grades and relationships, we have to worry if we are going to survive a day at school. The American people have a right to buy and own guns, but I also have a right to be able to go to school and not worry about dying. My right to live outweighs any gun rights. How many more people have to die before something is done?

My whole family is scared to send my siblings and I to school every morning because they don’t know if we are going to make it home. Every day that we sit around and do nothing about the shootings and guns, we are killing more innocent people. The U.S. is number one in shootings and mass incarceration. President Trump doesn’t want to face the fact that something needs to be done. Without the support of the American people, he wouldn’t have a country to lead. It’s the duty of the president to do everything in his power to protect the citizens. We have to make our voices heard and strive for change. Is a gun worth more than my life?


READ: OPINION: A student’s obituary should never say ‘gunned down while studying for chemistry’


We already have gun control. We do need to do something to help the mentally ill.

by Katie, 11th grade, Parker, Colorado

The media in general provides a liberal stance on the gun debate. Weapons come in many different forms, and a common misconception in our country is that we would be safer without guns. Even though improvements to gun policy could prove to be beneficial, they will never end the violence that has come to play a part in our education system.

However, we do need to do something to help the mentally ill instead of arbitrarily restricting already existing gun regulations. Nikolas Cruz had a well-known history of firearm obsession. Cruz was even evaluated by behavioral health experts, yet he was not hospitalized or detained. We could have helped him before this tragedy unfolded in front of our eyes.


Teenagers’ brains are not yet fully developed. Why can they buy guns?

by Cecilia, 11th grade, New Orleans, Louisiana

After listening to a story on NPR, I encountered a fact by a neuroscientist about brain development for the average 18-year-old. The prefrontal cortex of teenagers is not yet fully developed. This is the part of the brain that helps you to control impulses and make smart decisions in times of stress.

If 18 is the legal age to buy a gun, then I see a huge problem with this. I believe we should adjust the legal age requirement for someone to own a gun. These are steps Congress needs to take so that other high school students like me don’t have to worry about experiencing another terrifying and tragic attack.


School shootings give responsible gun owners a bad name

by Kenneth, 12th grade, McKinney, Texas

Practically, there is not a solution. Based on inevitable mathematical probability, someone somewhere with gun access will carry out a school shooting. Theoretically, the only surefire way to prevent a school shooting is to prevent guns from getting into civilian hands whether illegal or legal firearms.

What needs to happen instead is education. We need to educate the public about guns in order to prevent firearm ignorance. We should have mandatory gun safety classes in school and teach young people what a firearm is, the tools and parts of the gun and what purposes they serve. Even with one gun in public circulation, there will be a potential but very slim chance of a shooting. School shootings give responsible gun owners and guns a bad name. Gun restrictions will not get rid of school shootings, even if every single student in school had the discipline of a soldier and proper training. It’s not the guns, it’s the people holding them.


We have to stop judging others

by Misti, 12th grade, Graham, Washington

The problems our society is experiencing right now have more to do with how we treat each other than gun control. We judge people based on their looks, especially if they look sketchy or just different. We see someone who is quiet or a kid who is always getting into trouble, and we judge them without know what they have been through. Society makes fun of those type of people. As teenagers, we constantly pick on someone until they are down on the ground. It’s like we are trying to kill someone who may already feel dead inside. You see all of these shows about criminals, and some of them are about murders, and it intrigues us. The real problem is us.


Some may wonder how such people came into power

by Gabe, 12th grade, Flint, Michigan

The right to bear arms is a fundamental freedom enjoyed in the United States. However, this does not mean there shouldn’t be regulations on the sale and production of these arms. Without laws, we are faced with the problem of unashamed maniacs and domestic terrorists. The simplest solution to this complex issue seems to be tighter restrictions and more cohesive background and mental state checks. Now, of course this will not take all guns off the street and black market, but it will prevent people who shouldn’t have guns from purchasing them. Or at least make it harder to.

Unfortunately, with the presidential administration we currently have, and the lobbyists paying thousands and thousands to either campaign as a way to curry favor with whomever wins, we won’t see a mandate demanding any of these proposed solutions anytime soon. The gun industry is convoluted and has a tight grip on the politicians, who are forced to do the industry’s bidding. The same lawmakers are aware of the hundreds and thousands of dollars they receive from the NRA (National Rifle Association). Some may wonder how such people came into power.


I have had my hunting license since I was in fifth grade. We need to make it harder to buy firearms.

by Morgan, 12th grade, Anderson, Indiana

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against people having guns. I have grown up in a house full of firearms and hunting bows. I have had my hunting license since I was in fifth grade. However, many people my age struggle with mental health. Some take it to extreme levels, like taking guns from their home to school and shooting innocent people.

As a country, we also need to make it harder to buy firearms. Only certain guns should allowed to be sold to the average joe. Not only should we add more regulations, but we should add a tax when buying a firearm, like we do for cigarettes and alcohol — items that may bring harm to ourselves or others.


Public schools needs to use security tactics similar to other institutions

by Bridget, 12th grade, Gretna, Nebraska

There are several measures that could have been taken to prevent the Parkland, Florida school shooting, like taking threats, including social media posts, more seriously. The Federal Bureau of Investigation ignored obvious signs, including the shooter’s online comments, which stated, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”

Guns themselves are not evil and do not murder individuals. They are safe in the possession of a majority of Americans and will never be used to kill children. With that said, a revisit to gun laws is reasonable, including extensive background checks and mental evaluations for those looking to purchase any firearm.

Realistically, there will not be an end to school shootings any time soon. Therefore, public schools needs to heighten security now in order to protect those inside. In some cases, hospitals and banks have security systems that will lock doors; this isolates the shooter and would prevent their travel throughout the premise. Using tactics similar to these institutions would aid in saving students and teachers’ lives.


PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs react to gun violence: Armed with social media, young people across America are actively researching both sides of the gun debate and deciding where they stand.


Don’t turn schools into prisons

by Ashunti, 12th grade, Chicago, Illinois

Some individuals favor solutions that place armed guards in a defense perimeter around schools. Others want to arm teachers. And yet the idea of a “good guy with a gun” makes me more fearful of school shootings in our future.

Teachers aren’t always 100 percent the good guys. There are many accounts of teachers who aren’t trustworthy enough to be around kids. Arming them all would endanger more kids than “protecting.” These solutions seem to want to turn schools from safe environments into prisons.


School shootings can’t be blamed on problems of big city life

by Kelsey, 11th grade, Gretna, Nebraska

The truth about the Parkland shooting is that it opened eyes and it opened doors. The debate has shifted from petty Twitter fights to actual debates on gun control policy. A wave of voices has emerged and teens are demanding reform. Efforts to normalize gun violence by those in power and the news media have been shaken by our awareness that this violent American plague is anything but normal. School shootings cannot be blamed on problems of the big city. Parkland is no bigger than my hometown in the Midwest. I think the country is finally starting to notice that it can happen to any of our schools.


My tears have been quickly replaced with anger

by Shahana, 12th grade, Dallas, Texas

Most teenagers today remember the heartbreak after Sandy Hook but have become increasingly desensitized to such events as they occur more frequently. The individuals who commit such heinous acts are given the power — easy access to weapons — to instill fear into school-aged children. They are dubbed as people who are mentally-ill instead of as terrorists. While they are successful in breaking the spirit of many, they will never take away my voice. My tears are quickly replaced with anger. Anger towards a government that doesn’t enforce gun control, anger towards media outlets for how they focus so much on the shooter, anger towards the world for being so cruel and heartless. But nobody can take away my voice. I will never stop speaking out against the deep injustice of school shootings and a system which has failed its citizens too many times.


We will do everything in our power to ensure that our views are represented in future elections

by Camille, 11th grade, Traverse City, Michigan

In the aftermath of the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, adults tell us not
to live in fear and to go on with our daily lives. Yet, over the last two decades since the mass shooting at Columbine High School, nothing has been done to prevent more school shootings. In fact, access to assault-style weapons has only gotten easier. This unfettered access to weapons has caused us to lose future Olympians, mathematicians, teachers, writers, doctors, astronauts and all those individuals who would one day make up our communities. Our generation will not forget that our elected leaders have let us down over and over again. We will do everything in our power to ensure that our views are represented when we are eligible to vote. When we do, we will create laws to restrict weapon access, ensure care for behavioral health issues and keep our schools safe for our friends, families and for generations.


The government isn’t messing with the Second Amendment

by Noah, 12th grade, Anderson, Indiana

Just because you make it harder to get guns doesn’t mean your Second Amendment is being taken away. The person buying the gun should have to go through mental health screenings to see if they’re stable enough to handle guns. He/she should then be required to go every six months to retake mental health exams. It should be harder to get guns or certain attachments. They should be required to take a class to make sure they know how to handle guns.

People complain that the government is trying to mess with the Second Amendment, which it really isn’t. People just need to grow up and deal with the fact that some folks may not be stable or knowledgeable enough to own a gun. The world is safer that way.


We need a new plan

by Briaja, 12th grade, Flint, Michigan

It’s time for our country to step up and figure out a plan B because clearly plan A isn’t working. Plan B would involve improving security at schools and passing stricter gun laws. We can start by preventing anyone under the age of 25 from owning a gun. At 25, people’s minds are more cognitively and physically developed than when they are teenagers. At 25, people are coming out of their adolescence phase and becoming responsible adults.

One of my teachers said the problem wasn’t criminals shooting up the school but kids who are able to access guns. Under Plan B, we get our government to step up and find a way to take of the issue. Because no one should have to hear another government official say, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you,” especially if they aren’t doing anything to help solve the problem.


We have allowed greed to overpower our humanity

by Ashley, 12th grade, Palo Alto, California

I was 12 years old at the time of the Sandy Hook shooting. Hopelessly idealistic and a little naive, I believed that the government, who had to be equally sickened and shocked as I was at the massacre of elementary school children, would immediately scramble to prevent such tragedies from reoccurring.

But nothing changed. And then, another school shooting happened. Then another. Then 200 more. And here we are now, a nation reeling from the deaths of 17 more students and teachers in Florida, wondering what went wrong again.

Our inaction as a nation is — and was — inexcusable. Thoughts and prayers won’t save the hundreds of kids whose blood has been spilled while simply pursuing their education, and they won’t create a safer America for future generations. There is no blanket solution to this incredibly nuanced issue, but we cannot continue to dodge and delay at the expense of children’s lives.

When the National Rifle Association has donated millions to our representatives, it is no wonder that the many attempts to pass gun safety legislation have been repeatedly blocked. We have allowed greed to overpower our humanity; we cannot have the people who represent us value profit over lives.

When politics have become increasingly polarized, it is no wonder that we have not had effective dialogue regarding gun control. Progress cannot be made without communication and compromise; effective gun control and the Second Amendment truly can coexist.


READ: Opinion: I’ve asked hundreds of students if they would feel safer if I was armed. Not one has said yes


Remain hopeful, change will come

by Evan, 11th grade, Jenison, Michigan

The worst thing we can do at a time like this is to just accept that horrible things like this aren’t going to stop occurring in schools. I believe that the best solution to this problem is to increase the level of background checks regarding gun sales and make it harder for those suffering from certain mental illnesses to acquire guns. If a person is viewed as a danger to society, then they should not be allowed to own a gun under any circumstances. I also believe that those with violent criminal history should face much higher restrictions when owning and purchasing guns.

We should prioritize innocent children’s lives over giving criminals a second chance when it comes to owning weapons. However, I do not in any way support creating more total gun-free zones. The idea of total gun-free zones sounds like a good solution, but how likely is it for a potential shooter to follow a sign warning of a total gun-free zone? Schools should have at least one police officer. They should be able to do whatever they want about not letting in armed visitors, but they should definitely have some protection within the school to stop a potential shooter.

I hope and pray that tragedies like this will cease to occur and the lives of American children will be protected. I also believe this recent shooting will lead to changes in gun laws.


Guns have changed, shouldn’t our laws change with them?

by Tacey, 11th grade, Traverse City, Michigan

After the Florida school shooting my friends and I were having a conversation at our lunch table. We were saying how if four shooters came in at that moment, blocking all exits, what would we do. Run. Hide. Hug your friends and call parents because you know it’s all over. These should not be the thoughts running through 17-year old girls’ heads. We should be more concerned with a pop quiz in history than a mass murderer popping through the doors.

Yes, we have the Second Amendment, the “right to bear arms.” This was passed in 1789, when loading a gun took a lot longer between rounds than it does now. An AR-15 can fire dozens of rounds a minute. A legally converted AR-15 can fire 700 a minute. Guns have changed, shouldn’t our laws change with them?


We need to ban some guns

by Jemini, 12th grade, Flint, Michigan

In 2017, about four out of every 10 Americans said they owned a gun or live in a home with guns. Now am I saying we should ban all firearms? No, not at all. But I am saying that we should definitely ban some firearms. In most cases, semi-automatic weapons that mimic those used by our military on the battlefield. Why would you ever use such a gun for hunting?




In November, we will vote.

by Morgan, 12th grade, Charlotte, North Carolina

Parkland is different. My generation has grown up living through nonstop violence, and now many of us are of voting age. However, it won’t begin with voting. We will organize school walkouts and speak to our administration. We will work with school boards and lobby local leaders. We will challenge the National Rifle Association and our elected officials. And in November, we will vote.




I’ve always been told to not live my life in fear

by Cassidy, 11th grade, Traverse City, Michigan

I’ve always been told to not live my life in fear. As a high school student, however, I’ve felt a lack of security after the recent school shootings. As a teenager, I’ve witnessed the impact of adolescents becoming depressed and afflicted by negativity and hate. Seeing how lax today’s gun laws are, I can’t ignore the feeling that causes me to wonder what would happen if that were my school?

As it is now, we are vulnerable and defenseless. We can’t face a shooter, and we lack options of how to act in a split second. We can only run and hide. I am demanding that we take action on this issue as a nation. We can’t have more innocent lives lost just because of one person’s failure to think logically.



Do not take our right to bear arms

by Maia, 11th grade, Traverse City, Michigan

I like that we have a right to bear arms. There are many people who want to take away this right, and I don’t agree with that. However, I do care about preventing the wrong people, including those with certain mental health issues, getting ahold of guns. Authorities should look for specific signs. Of course we won’t stop everything, but more can be done.



Why I’m careful how I talk about metal detectors

by Ja’Kavien, high school student, Flint, Michigan

I believe that every school should be well secured with metal detectors no matter how much they cost. But one thing I don’t like when discussing metal detectors in schools are some of the underlying prejudices that are made about students who go to schools in the “hood,” where metal detectors are already in place.

If you go to school in a nice suburban area, there will probably not be any metal detectors in sight. That’s because for a long time school leaders likely thought their students were not capable of doing such a thing, like killing innocent people. But just about every year, there is a school shooting in a town unknown to most Americans. The people who carry out mass shootings are predominantly white and live not far from the schools. It looks like metal detectors need to be everywhere now, not just in the hood.


Congressional inaction on guns speaks volumes

by Anson, 11th grade, Medford, New York

As a high school student myself in the modern world, it is quite honestly absurd that the issue of massacring children is even something that needs to be argued.

Schoolchildren are criticized for their “ignorance” when they criticize the National Rifle Association. But one just needs to look at the NRA’s social media platforms after a mass shooting to see if the criticism is justified – they will be met with silence or arguments that it is not a guns issue, but a mental health issue. The unfortunate hypocrisy is that despite recognizing that mental health is the issue, some members of the government still refuse to provide healthcare to those who can’t afford it. It seems that in today’s America, it is unjust to take away assault weapons and impossible to give treatments to those in need, so the only option is to keep letting children get gunned down.


I don’t want to be surrounded by weapons when I’m trying to learn.

by Brie, 11th grade, Reno, Nevada

I find it terrifying that Nikolas Cruz was able to pass a background check to obtain his guns. Being suspended from his high school for violent behavior should have been enough of a red flag. Guns are designed to kill. Whether they are used to kill animals or people, they are weapons of death. The solution isn’t for teachers to carry guns. I don’t want to be surrounded by weapons when I am trying to learn. I believe that the solution is stricter background checks and outlawing bump stocks and military grade weapons. No one needs an AR-15 rifle to hunt, nor do they need bump stocks. Students are required to spend roughly 5,850 hours every year in school. We demand to feel safe.


We need to learn about the power of guns

by Matthew, Joliet, Illinois

Our culture is aware of the danger of guns, but the news and entertainment media have helped to rob the public of their true dangers. We need a greater sense of conscientiousness among student bodies about the threats firearms pose and how they especially affect those who have serious mental illness. By educating people more about guns, we are more likely to become aware of their power.


The problem with ‘this too shall pass’

Ruby, 11th grade, New Orleans, Louisiana

Whenever anything upsetting has happened during my life, whether Hurricane Katrina or the death of a family member, my grandma has always told me the common saying, “This too shall pass.” I have continued to remember this saying throughout my life after any tragic event. The problem with school shootings is that with time they do pass and over time the media moves on to a new topic.

Instead of hoping and praying for change, we need to take responsibility and advocate for the changes we want to see in our country. We have drills at school for natural disasters such as fires or tornadoes or earthquakes. If we could pass a law to end these natural occurrences, I’m sure it would be passed unequivocally. In a country that has sent a man to the moon, invented cell-phones, legalized gay marriage, and has made so much progress in human rights, we have no excuse to not pass laws or make an amendment to our Constitution that enables citizens to obtain guns in a safer way and ensures that we don’t lose more lives.


RELATED: Opinion: To prevent school shootings, can mental health be taught? 


When a black child commits a crime, they’re called a ‘thug’ — not “mentally ill”

by Taniya, 12th grade, Flint, Michigan

School shootings are not a problem in the African American community. There has rarely been an incident where a black child has shot up a school. And if a black child has shot up a school their deemed a “thug,” “ghetto,” or “hood.” A brown child is called a “terrorist,” but when a white child shoots up a school their deemed “mentally ill,” “has a hard life” or ”defending themselves.”

When a black person commits a crime, the media digs for dirt on them. But when a white person does it, the media makes excuses for them. For example, with the recent school shooting in Florida, one of the first points that was brought to the media right after it happened was “he had a hard life,” or “he’s adopted.” When he appeared in court, his lawyer claimed Nikolas Cruz was a “broken human being.”

Being broken is not an excuse to kill 17 people.


Students should not be afraid of fire alarms

by Madelyn, 11th grade, Indianapolis, Indiana

The day after the shooting in Parkland, my school’s fire alarm went off during fourth block. I remember my friends’ uneasy glances around the room. As we made our way outside, I started receiving several text messages from my friends reading: “This is how the shooting happened yesterday.”

We were all alert as we frantically walked outside not knowing what to expect. Sirens blared around as we continued to hear the fire alarm ringing inside. There was a faulty smoke alarm. We were safe, but it had been bad timing.

The following Monday, three minutes before dismissal, the fire alarm went off again. I remember my blood turning cold as students protested my teacher, telling her that they would not leave. Eventually, we were told that we must go outside and obeyed. Later, another one of my friends told me how she teared up. The chatter around me was fearful and angry.Luckily, yet another smoke detector had malfunctioned, and we were safely released from school afterwards. Were we next?


Make security equipment mandatory

Jy’Quan, 11th grade, Castleton, New York

I think schools districts should have mandatory security equipment in all schools to keep students and staff safe. There should also be more high-tech security for social media monitoring. Staff should be highly trained for events in order to protect students and themselves. The federal government should take responsibility and fund what is needed to keep schools safe. I think if everyone came together and took a stand, we could solve the problem, and schools could become places of learning once again.


I saw my first handgun in the seventh grade

by Grace, 12th grade, Langhorne, Pennsylvania

I remember the first time I saw one of my classmates with a handgun. I was walking home from my middle school in seventh grade. He was sitting in the woods, showing it off to his friends. We live in an affluent county in Pennsylvania. I know few, if any, of these young men who have ever gone hunting.

There is another young man at my high school that sends dozens of his peers videos of him unloading and reloading guns at least twice a week. He is brooding, about twice my size and his excuse is that he wants to join the army. A friend of mine was punished for making a joke about Columbine in our junior year, but I don’t know of anything that has been done about the young man with the guns.



School districts should spend money on safety, not new laptops

by Nicole, 11th grade, Gretna, Nebraska

If schools say our safety is their first priority, then why don’t they spend money making us safe? Why buy students new laptops and computers, saying it’s best for our learning, when we have been running on pencil and paper for as long as education has been a thing. Get us stronger security systems. Get us stronger communities where entire school districts don’t have to shut down because someone made a threat. Get us more school counselors who can help those students who never really fit, who get made fun of by other kids, who eat alone at lunch and whose families struggle. There is so much we can do.


I witnessed a shooting and firmly believe we need gun control

by Jesse, 12th grade, Graham, Washington

As a high school student who witnessed a shooting just off campus, I strongly believe that legislative action must be taken.

An analysis by “Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence” showed that states with high gun restrictions like California, New York and Connecticut have the lowest rates of gun-related deaths. For instance, Connecticut passed legislation that banned assault weapons, outlawed magazines exceeding 10 rounds and began requiring background checks for all gun sales. Since then, gun-related deaths have dropped from 226 in 2012 to 164 in 2016.

For too long we have stood by and watched teachers and students get slaughtered by guns — guns that are legal for merely recreational purposes. Our voices will no longer be drowned out by older, polarized generations. We need action. Gun control works.


For many teens, witnessing the mobilization of student activists against gun violence in the wake of the Parkland shooting has been inspiring, but others remain skeptical.


Adults no longer have the luxury to disagree

by Lily, 10th grade, Ambler, Pennsylvania

When I was in fifth grade I read, “I am Malala,” by Malala Yousafzai. Malala was a girl fighting for her education; the Taliban shot her in the forehead. Although our cultures are different, one thing connects America and Afghanistan: We both have kids who are frightened to go to school.

And yet, the U.S. is classified as a first-world country. We are supposed to have our crap together. Instead, we are struggling to keep our children safe from assault riffles in their schools. And government officials are too stubborn to realize that they often see eye to eye on several matters of gun control. The adults of this country no longer have the luxury to disagree. They must come together to save the lives of our children.


We have failed too many kids

by Curtis, 12th grade, Flint, Michigan

is all I hear when the school bell rings
I jump when someone knocks on the classroom
door too hard
my heart races while I walk through the halls
at lunch I feel like a duck in an open field
and hunting season is in full effect.
I don’t go to school anymore, I go to a
potential war zone, I go to a potential shooting
range…19 years ago America was left in shock,
horror and pain. 19 years later kids are still waking
up for what ends up being their final day on
this earth, they walk into school but never walk
out. The official number doesn’t matter because tomorrow
it will be a different, higher number; the same goes for the
day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that.
19 years, countless victims, yet no change…
We’re better than this.


How many of our country’s children will be forced to lose their lives?

by Becka, 12th grade, Ventura, California

The shrill bleating of an alarm shattered my high school’s lunchtime chatter. I watched, stunned, my gaze fixated on a boy sprinting for the Spanish teacher’s classroom door.

Like a gunshot, panic broke out. Someone screamed. I looked around wildly for the teacher, waiting for her to start issuing orders to turn down the blinds and hide under the desks. But she was opening the door and herding people into the corridors.

It had been a fire alarm.

Two things deeply disturbed me about the incident. One, that I couldn’t tell the difference between a fire alarm and a lockdown alarm, or if that there was even a difference. Two, that it had provoked such mass hysteria.

If a shooter had come on campus, I couldn’t help thinking we’d have been butchered.

The next day, the Parkland shooting made national headlines.

Being in close quarters with a guardian of the Second Amendment, my father, pro-gun rhetoric and its recycled arguments no longer held any persuasion for me. I couldn’t help thinking I could have been one of those Parkland students being shot.

Congress and the President need to understand that their inaction is trading away the lives of the future. But this time is different because we, the students, are the future and the future will not stand for it.


Students must be part of the conversation

by Tierney, North Carolina high school student

Students and parents are holding their breaths, waiting to see where the next tragedy strikes, praying they won’t be the next victims. We need to make sure that people who are known to be violent or mentally unstable are given the help they need and not easy access to assault weapons. Programs that create smaller communities within schools would allow students with mental health issues to be identified and helped. Finally, students must be part of the conversation. Our lives are worth more than guns.


Bullying is alive in our hallways

by Leslie, 11th grade, Satanta, Kansas

Valentine’s Day in Florida turned into a bloody massacre. A student, Nikolas Cruz, became a school shooter. Much of the discussion that followed has centered on the need for gun control. Few have even acknowledged the life of the shooter.

Cruz was a troubled student. Everyone wants to blame him, and yes, I do believe that he should be punished for his actions. But the root causes of such actions should be examined, too.

Why primarily argue about guns? Argue the fact that bullying is alive in all our hallways. Argue the fact that depression can rise like a fire with no help in sight. Argue the fact that students, kids who you might have grown up with, don’t know what the word “happy” means. Argue the fact that we teach students what x+y is not what to do when they feel suicidal. And when you’re arguing, remember Cruz is human, like me and you.


Mandatory health screens for everyone

by Juston, 12th grade, Anderson, Indiana

We should teach students and faculty about gun safety, which includes how to shoot a gun, maintain a gun and how to disarm a gun at the bare minimum. Teachers and other faculty members should also have some sort of weapon available in the classroom. Whether or not it is a gun should be a decision left to the teacher to decide, but a weapon should be mandatory.

I also believe in mental health checks before purchasing a weapon at a gun show or store. In fact, I would propose mandatory mental health screens for everyone, both young and old. This way the government could keep a mental health database and consult it when necessary.


I have lived through too many national tragedies

Leyton, 11th grade, Palo Alto, California

The Parkland shooting news alert popped up on my phone like many before it. But this one caught my eye…high school…shooter…fatalities. In shock, I blurted out the headline to a bus full of rowdy high schoolers headed to a soccer game. The response was heartbreaking. A couple of heads popped up from the lure of their phones but quickly looked back down. Many didn’t even acknowledge the tragedy. Only one person asked for details.

These are a handful of America’s youth, a diverse group living in the heart of Silicon Valley. They aren’t unique. We Americans have become desensitized to mass shootings. As a 16-year old born and raised in America, I have lived through too many national tragedies, more than enough for a lifetime. Mass shootings are now so frequent that many hardly bat an eyelash. Our pain has been desensitized. This is a problem. This is the problem. This is our problem.


These weapons are insanely powerful

by Johanna, 10th grade, Ambler, Pennsylvania

The recent Florida shooting has made me aware of how much I had been living in fear without even realizing it. When I go out to places with large crowds, I always hug my parent’s goodbye, and the thought goes through my head that it could be the last time I see them. The types of weapons used in mass shootings are insanely powerful and, if not stopped, have the capability to kill hundreds of people in minutes. As students, we are the ones who are affected by this, yet it seems like no one will take our voices seriously.


Arm teachers with tools of knowledge

by Grace, ninth grade, Binghamton, New York

One suggestion has been to put our teachers in the role of first responder, concealing metal and lead somewhere between their barely functioning technologies and dull dry erase markers. Instead, I wish they would arm our teachers with the tools they need to provide us with knowledge. If teachers wanted to be police officers, then it seems to me that they would have taken that oath.

It is more difficult for me to get my driver’s license than it is for someone to obtain a gun. This country, in all of its greatness, and it is already great, needs to get tougher on gun laws. Why do civilians need to own a weapon that the military uses during war to create mass casualties?


We are the same age

by LaTisha, 12th grade, Flint, Michigan

When will ‘we are the same age’ become ‘we were the same age’? How can I be sure that it will not be me getting caught in the thought of a was.

How can I be sure that it will not be my family pleading on their worn battle knees, bleeding and crying out for answers, because their child no longer is but was.

Do not act like prevention was a joke. A rehearsal that people knew would not work. A rehearsal that did not work for them. If you have a platform to speak and people to listen, use it. Speak up about gun violence and start making a change.

If you see a sign, how could you ignore it? Do not leave an abandoned mission to collect dust. Why not try to help? We cannot read minds, but we can read posts.


RELATED: Students who support gun rights say schools safer when ‘good guys’ are armed


I carry a spare car key, just in case

by Alyssa, 11th grade, Jenison, Michigan

Every day, while I’m at school, I carry a spare car key to my car wherever I go at all times. Just so in case there is a school shooting, I can go out the window and easily run to my car, fill it up with as many people as possible and get away. I feel safer that way and honestly, it’s sad to think about. The other day at school I was sitting in the cafeteria and some kid dropped his binder and it made a big sound throughout the cafeteria, it sounded somewhat like a gunshot, and immediately I started crying.



Guns are too easy to access

by Raul, 12th grade, Traverse City, Michigan

When I moved to Mexico my sophomore year, I went to Acapulco for a week to visit some distant family. My family came back a week later to a cross sitting on our front door. Our neighbors told us that someone had been shot and killed next to our home.

I found out that a boy my age had gotten into an argument and shot someone with a gun that he had gained easy access to. What really rattled me was later that night, when we got home, and saw all the children playing outside like nothing had happened.

I have lived in both the United States and Mexico. I have thought about why gun violence is high in both places, and there is one thought that won’t leave my head: easy access.


Safer schools cost money — it’s worth it

by Freddy, high school student, Joliet, Illinois

Methods for taking down an active shooter need to be explored. Schools should create a team of non-lethal weapon carriers. There are many who protest the idea of faculty and staff in schools carrying weapons, but what if these weapons could bring down a shooter without ever posing a threat or causing a fatality? Pellet and bean bag guns have been developed for crowd control. It is not a stretch to ask and receive training to operate a non-lethal weapon. There’s not a single mother or father who wouldn’t pay extra tax dollars to ensure their child’s safety in school.


Our government pays more attention to people who aren’t “a part” of our country

by Diasiia, 12th grade, Joliet, Illinois

Our government is more focused on people who aren’t “a part” of our country when they should be focused on the people who they call Americans. While I know that all gun-related crimes won’t be solved with these laws, even a dent in the system could slow down the rate of increasing gun violence. After these problems are addressed and changes are made, maybe then we could come together and heal some of the wounds that this country has endured over the last few years.



Students also need to take some of the blame

by Laurel, 9th grade, Amana, Iowa

The students also need to take some of the blame. The teens that create these massacres have to have a reason for doing all this. Maybe if one kid had said hello to him that day, he might not feel the need to go over the edge. It is the little things that can make someone’s day. Isn’t it? Ignoring the weird kid, who sits alone at lunch, doesn’t help anything. Yes, maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference. But maybe, just maybe, some of the teens that were killed, maybe they would still be alive if someone noticed the weird kid, who sits alone at lunch.



Hire unemployed veterans as armed guards

by Curtis, 12th grade, Anderson, Indiana

We need to have some restrictions and make it a little harder to get guns. One of the first restrictions we need is definitely a mental health screening. With a more comprehensive system for reporting mental health issues and conducting background checks, we can avoid putting guns in the hands of people who pose threats to themselves or others. Another thing that we need to have, and this goes for inside as well as outside of schools, is an armed guard. I personally think we should hire unemployed veterans. In 2016, the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was just over 5 percent, or 453,000 people. We should make the job of protecting our schools available to these men and women.


School shootings have become normal, but they shouldn’t be

by Isabelle, 12th grade, Joliet, Illinois

It’s surprising to me that even talking about stricter gun laws makes people uncomfortable, simply because it seems to be the one obstacle our country faces in becoming safer. Stronger implementation of background checks when trying to purchase a gun is essential. Active-shooter drills should take place in every school. Threats to schools need to be taken more seriously by school administrators. I hear about too many threats being easily dismissed. Students should have weekly locker checks and doors around the building should be locked at all times. It makes me sick suggesting such precautions, mainly because school shootings have become normal, and they shouldn’t be.


This is how to save the future today

by Tanvi, 12th grade, Barrington, Illinois

Many say that the immediate solution is gun control. However, in the face of slow legislative change and deepening cultural trends, what we need is a social shift. Our society is too filled with intolerance and “taboo” conversations, including mental health, gender roles and bullying. By fostering acceptance and fighting intolerance in school, we can take action instantaneously, focusing on the problem rather than political parties, and positively influencing social culture as a whole.

Teachers are our role models. All it takes is one conversation and one teacher to set off the spark. A teacher could walk into their class tomorrow and start a discussion about a difficult, divisive issue that students face and adults shy away from. This is how to save the future today.


Parents and schools should monitor social media

by Kaileigh, ninth grade, Binghamton, New York

I think there are a lot of hints posted on social media about future events that the individual is planning. I also believe that parents could help keep their kids safe by monitoring their social media accounts for hints of dangerous or unhealthy behavior.However, students are afraid to go to school personnel if they suspect such a thing. I think this mindset also needs to change. Students need to talk with guidance counselors more often.


How school psychologists could help end bullying

by Jeremiah, 11th grade, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Besides putting more restrictions on guns, we could end or lower school shootings by having more psychologists in schools. These mental health experts could randomly rotate and observe students in their natural settings, like classrooms, lunches and gyms. They could spot students who may be prone to self-harm. It could possibly help save people from not only ending their lives but ending the lives of others. Plus, having more mental health professionals in schools could raise awareness for the amazing science and role of psychology. Lastly, this could put an end to bullying because the psychologists could pinpoint the bullies, and help the school find out why they are acting out.


Higher levels of security are needed

by Mykayla, 11th grade, Flint, Michigan

I can’t stop thinking about the shooting in Parkland. I go to school every day, and knowing anybody could walk in and do the same thing all over, is not right. Given the prevalence of mass shootings, a higher level of security is needed at each and every school. Each and every part of the school should be monitored, and everyone who comes in should be checked from top to bottom. No child who attends school in order to learn should be hurt.




Guns are a right, but not all kinds are necessary

by Jared, 11th grade, Traverse City, Michigan

I believe that guns we should be able to have guns, but there are certain types, including assault weapons, that shouldn’t be available for citizens to own. Plus, not allowing easy access to guns would make it harder for the people who want to commit these shootings to get ahold of these weapons. While there is the argument that if they want to kill or harm people, they will find a way no matter what, something I agree with myself, at least we can reduce the chances of this happening.


Change starts with the citizens of this country

by Danika, 11th grade, Jenison, Michigan

The issue is a person who never should have been allowed to purchase a gun was able to use that gun against innocent people. People who were just going to school. School, a place every child in America is required by law to attend. School, a place where people are free to expand their knowledge and embrace creativity. School, the place where I am writing this from and talking about gun control. How was this man able to buy this gun in the first place? What is the government doing to protect these children? We must have change and that starts with the citizens of this country.


Destyne holding her baby sister.

School safety should include stronger infrastructure

by Destyne, 12th grade, Frankton, Indiana

Many students are scared to go school and their parents are also scared. More safety precautions need to be taken at schools, including installing metal detectors and bulletproof windows and doors. Depending on the size of the school, at least three to five armed security guards need to be at each school. When it comes to purchasing a gun, a person should have to take a test to show that they have general knowledgeable about gun safety as well as a test to show they know handle a firearm. Right now, gun regulations are very lenient, and it is almost feels as if the government does not really care who purchases a firearm.


“We seem to be pushed aside a lot in these political situations and this time I think that we are making it known that we are the future,” says Kim Leadholm, a high schooler in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, and member of PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs program.


 How a manmade machine reflects America’s ugly side

by Chloe, 9th grade, Patchogue, New York

Modern firearms have been around for over 100 years and somehow the laws to go along with them are still up for debate. How can we possibly have gotten this far as a civilization only to be threatened by a manmade machine? As a country, we must bring light to the uglier side of the United States.




Security guards should be mandatory

by Rylee, 8th grade, Pearl City, Hawaii

America is supposed to stand for things like freedom, equality, justice and hope, but with all of the gun violence and school shootings, how can America stand for any of those things? There are parents who are terrified to send their children off to school because they don’t know if they will see them again. One solution could be for our government to write a law saying that every school in the nation will need security guards to patrol the campus. If we don’t make a change, gun violence will continue to get worse.



Number of rounds is a key issue

by Guari, 12th grade, Binghamton, New York

I am not against people having guns as long as they are in good hands, but why does someone need an AR-15 with a 30+ round clip? If you want to own a gun like that, then there should be gun ranges where you can go to practice and leave it there before you leave. There is no real reason to have one in a household.




No problem can be solved in an instant, but we need to try

by Kaiya, 11th grade, Gretna, Nebraska

As much as I’d like for guns to be gone, I don’t believe that idea is tangible. Prohibiting certain products just raises people’s interests in them. However, by making it harder to obtain a gun through routine background checks and psychiatric evaluations, we can cut down on gun violence. No problem can be solved in an instant, but it is time to begin trying.



The silent majority needs to speak up

by Drew, 11th grade, Jenison, Michigan

They say that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Yet schools teach their students about events like Columbine and 9/11, and somehow it just happens again.  I cannot sit here and think that people just don’t care, because that would be a dark world to live in. If all the people who cared took five minutes to just sit and think,  I bet someone could figure something out. It’s time the silent majority stood up and made their voices heard, then turn to their politicians and really push to make a change.



Shooter shouldn’t have been able to get a gun

by Isabelle, 12th grade, Grand Rapids, Michigan

We cannot fight gun violence with more guns, and arming teachers is not the answer. The Second Amendment was put in place to establish protection for the American people against British tyranny. With the amount of government spending on our nation’s defense, this threat is not present. I am not arguing that all guns need to be removed, but instead, more actions need to be taken to keep them out of the wrong hands. The suspected shooter in Parkland had been reported to the FBI for suspicious actions and expelled from his school. He shouldn’t have had the means to attain a semi-automatic weapon.

In the immediate term, given the new wrinkle in the school shooting crisis, involving pulling the fire alarm to get students into the open, new precautionary measures need to be implemented. Students need to be taught more meaningful drills and preventive actions need to be taken about possible threats.


Photo by Meeya Tjiang

I plan to hold my elected representatives accountable.

by Maya, 12th grade, Palo Alto, California

I will be eligible to vote for the first time this year, and I plan to hold my elected representatives accountable.

Seventeen people are dead, and I am no longer willing to listen to lawmakers who deem my life less valuable than a piece of metal and claim that these events are simply unavoidable.

The 2018 midterm elections have already begun. I plan to vote for candidates who support logic and reason and not those who show an unwillingness to compromise, or who deem that a civilian’s right to own a military-grade weapon is more important than a child’s right to receive an education free of violence.

Responsible gun ownership, yes, but this isn’t happening

by Hannah, 11th grade, Jenison, Michigan

A buyer must pass a background check when buying a firearm in a store. This usually takes no more than a few minutes. If a buyer attends a gun show, however, no background check is necessary. In the attack in Charleston, South Carolina, where nine people were killed, the shooter was legally able to buy a .45-caliber Glock at a store. He passed his background check despite being arrested earlier that year for trespassing and drug possession. No safeguards were in place to take into account the racist symbols and comments made on social media. The messages might have indicated that such a hate-based crime could take place. I believe there is such a thing as responsible gun ownership, but this is not the way to get there.



ID cards should be worn by everyone inside schools

by Michael, Flint, Michigan

I believe that schools across the country should be more protected after all the school shootings we have had so far in 2018. I think it’s time for school leaders and government officials to take action to acquire higher-quality technology. Students within their schools should be required to wear their school IDs. Teachers as well. For the students who are expelled and teachers who have left or been fired, it’s best to deactivate their IDs immediately. America needs to take action now before another school is involved in a shooting.



Treat one another as you would like to be treated

by Blanca, 12th grade, Alta Loma, California

I understand that owning guns is a right that we Americans have through the Bill of Rights. Still, I find it devastating to know that a person, whether male or female, young or old, is capable of harming another human being without taking the time to think through the consequences of their actions. I also find it troubling that us as a people, including students, mistreat one another enough to cause someone to fill up with so much anger and hate, that they carry out a school shooting. It all comes back to us and how we treat one another, along with speaking up when it comes to something that doesn’t seem right, whether it be on social media, in school, out of school, wherever.


I risk my life each day so I can learn about the Second Amendment

by Holly, 11th grade, Vancouver, Washington

The total number of homicide deaths in the US in 2014 was 15,872. The number caused by a firearm was 11,008. Though it’s true that people kill with or without firearms, it is also true that they overwhelmingly prefer to kill with one. These weapons give the attacker considerable distance between themselves and their assailant, or victim in these cases, minimizing retaliation. Guns do not kill people, but when awful people intend to kill people, guns are the easiest way for them to do so.

In the 44 days between January 1st and February 14th of 2018, there were seven firearm attacks inside schools or on school grounds during school hours, and five resulting in injury or death. One attack with a firearm per week in American schools on average.

I don’t want to get my education in a cement building with metal doors and armed guards wandering empty halls. I want the shooters who threaten our lives to rot in those places. That is called a prison. What I want is to feel safe knowing that the people who have guns are people who we trust to have guns in the event we need to form a militia, like was intended when the Second Amendment was written. I risked my life to learn that. I went to class.


Every teacher should have a stun gun

by Jenna, 11th grade, Jension, Michigan

The gun control laws are almost good enough to keep schools and Americans safe. The major flaw with gun control laws would have to be the places where guns are not allowed. Think about where shootings happen. Schools, churches, concerts, etc. What do these places have in common? They are places where guns are not allowed. The innocent are defenseless. I’m not saying anyone should be allowed to carry a gun around school, but a stun gun should be given to each teacher to store somewhere safe in case of a shooting. A stun gun will make the shooter fall and drop the gun in time for someone to take the gun away– hopefully with no casualties, not even the shooter. I am also concerned that an eighteen-year-old is allowed to purchase a gun. Most 18-year-olds are still in high school living with their parents. Plus, the average teen’s brain (the rational part of the brain) won’t be fully developed until age twenty-five.


I support gun rights, just not AR-15s

by Reece, 12th grade, Mayfield, Pennsylvania

In light of the recent high school shooting in Florida, I believe we need stricter laws on obtaining guns. Coming from a family of hunters in Northeastern Pennsylvania, I do support the Second Amendment. That being said, I do not support semi-automatic guns, like the AR-15. We hear the argument “good guys with guns can stop bad guys with guns” everyday, but what happens when the good guy with a gun is overpowered by the bad guy with a gun? A retrofitted AR-15 can shoot about 400 rounds per minute. Scary right? There is absolutely no need for a gun with that much power.

Where I come from, a lot of people love to hunt. I have not heard one single person tell me they use the AR-15 for that. Most people said “it’s fun to shoot” or, “I want to be properly armed if someone enters my home.” Nikolas Cruz could not even legally purchase alcohol, but it was perfectly legal for him to buy that gun.


This is only the beginning

by Summer, 12th grade, Derby, Kansas

[Note: Several students who submitted pieces are editors and writers for their school newspaper. We included an edited version of Summer’s piece as a reminder of the role that young journalists play in covering the news.]

Just a few days after the Parkland shooting, MSD student Carly Novel, who began this post, tweeted: “We don’t want higher fences and metal detectors. We don’t want our teachers to have guns. We don’t want to go to school in a prison. We want CHANGE. We want genuine, lasting change.”

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have joined with other shooting survivors and sympathizers to demand gun reform. Their goal is to be the last mass shooting.

Reaching even farther than Parkland, a number of protests are being organized to protest current gun laws including a march in Washington D.C on March 24 and student walkouts on March 14 and  April 20, the 19th anniversary of Columbine.




How an archaic ‘right’ forces students to watch videos about AR-15s

by Eva, 11th grade, Greenville, North Carolina

We live in danger every day because of an archaic law made in the days of our country’s origin. An archaic law that requires students in America today to sit in school, watching videos that prompt us on what to do if someone comes into school with an AR-15 and opens fire.

The Second Amendment states that U.S. citizens should have the right to bear arms and form militias. But as technology now allows hundreds of rounds to be fired off in under a minute — something the Founders could never have envisioned — and our military is now made up of an all-volunteer force, the need for this amendment has become unnecessary.


How age and mental health affects the right to bear arms

by Murphy, 9th grade, Greenville, North Carolina

According to Florida’s gun regulations, one does not need a permit or license to purchase a gun nor to register a firearm. Our right to bear arms is authorized in Amendment II of the Constitution. But should that right be applied to all? If a person is not old enough to be able to rent a car or buy a beer, then he should not be allowed to legally purchase a deadly weapon. Especially those who suffer from severe mental illness. Rather than banning something that will protect us from future attackers, the government should implement proper background checks to ensure that people like Nikolas Cruz will never obtain a weapon.


Guilty Congressmen and incompetent leaders

by Elizabeth, 11th grade, Jenison, Michigan

How many more people have to die before our government officials wake up and see the power that they hold in their hands? They have the power to save the lives of children and adults but do nothing more than send sorry tweets. These are the condolences of guilty Congressmen and  incompetent government leaders. We are through with being neglected by our leaders and “representatives.” Our lives are worth more than the outdated idea that gun ownership is a right.



Gun control might create an even bigger problem

by Alyssa, 8th grade, Honolulu, Hawaii

I do not think that reversing the Second Amendment is a good idea. This amendment keeps many people safe. It is a way for people to protect themselves in case of emergencies. The problem is not the gun, but the person holding the gun. Gun control might create an even bigger problem. How would the government take away all the guns that people already have? What if a person had not given up possession of their gun, leaving schools unable to defend themselves? What would the government do then? We shouldn’t have to be scared to go to our own school.


It’s time to reinstate the federal assault weapons ban

by Richard, 12th grade, Canoga Park, California

I have felt that Congress has failed us ever since Sandy Hook. After every mass shooting since then, I have found myself only more disappointed at Congress’ inability to act. The evidence, including cross-national studies, and the victims, all tell us we need stricter gun control in America. We also need a Congress who is not afraid of the gun lobbies and ensures kids are safe at school. A Congress that ensures dangerous weapons stay out of the wrong hands. It’s time for Congress to reinstate its federal ban on assault weapons and strengthen its universal background check system.


The phrase “school shooting” shouldn’t exist

by Mary, 12th grade, Manville, Rhode Island

During lockdown drills, we are taught to hide, silently, and to hope that the shooter thinks that we aren’t there. Students in every state across America are required to participate in them. My six-year old brother does them, my thirteen-year old sister does them and I do them. They have become as routine as the calls for”hopes and prayers” by politicians after a school shooting, a phrase that shouldn’t exist.

This generation, led by these courageous survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, are doing what adults should have done years ago. We are stepping up to the plate to ensure that the phrase “school shooting” has no reason to be put in the same sentence again.


Avoid becoming too wrapped up in the media

by Sarah, 10th grade, Greenville, North Carolina

One way to prevent school shootings is not to get too wrapped up in the media. We should only report new stories we know are a serious threat and always check the facts. Many people in the U.S. have differing opinions on gun violence, however, one thing remains the same: We all know that it is wrong to kill innocent students who are just trying to have a normal day of learning at school. We all know it is wrong to kill teachers who are just trying to do their job.


Saving lives isn’t a partisan issue

by Sydney, 12th grade, Barrington, Illinois

Assault rifles and bump stocks should be banned. Just because some people like using cocaine doesn’t mean we let them use it legally, so we shouldn’t let people have assault rifles just because they like to go hunting. In addition, any loopholes that allow individuals to bypass background checks should be taken away. According to Gallup, 60 percent of the U.S. wants stricter gun control. Saving the lives of other human beings shouldn’t be a partisan issue. We don’t allow people to keep grenades in their basement, and we shouldn’t allow individuals to keep battlefield guns in their homes.



by Grace, 12th grade, Barrington, Illinois

I’d like to remind those within the federal government of the preamble of the United States Constitution. Specifically, the government’s job to insure domestic tranquility and promote the general welfare. Currently, our leaders are doing neither, which makes me ask: am I next?

When politicians place the NRA above their constitutional duty to safeguard our lives, we are losing the fight to preserve our democracy. We need those in power to strengthen federal regulations on gun control.

Perhaps anyone interested in purchasing a firearm should follow the same steps required of a woman who needs to access an abortion or birth control. In several states, this includes: a mandatory waiting period, mandatory counseling, a physician’s approval, written information detailing the risks involved, and follow-up appointments.

My birth control should not be harder to access than an AR-15. Currently, it is, which makes me wonder: am I next?


If mental health is the root cause of gun violence, then why haven’t lawmakers done anything about it?

by Sireen, 10th grade, Greenville, North Carolina

Soon after taking office, President Donald Trump repealed an Obama-era regulation that would have prevented individuals with certain types of mental illnesses from buying a gun.

The media constantly quotes lawmakers talking about how the mass shootings are about mental health issues instead of acts of terrorism. But if this is the case, why did politicians decide to repeal an act that could have stopped what they believe to be the cause of all of these shootings?



Seventeen people who all had hopes and dreams

by Nawal, 12th grade, Barrington, Illinois

Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque Anguiano, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Chris Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup, and Peter Wang. These are the 17 victims who were killed as a result of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. These are 17 innocent people who all had hopes and dreams and did not deserve to die.

According to the World Health Organization, “the United States has one of the highest rates of death by firearm in the developed world.” Although some people use guns for hobbies like hunting, we have to draw the line somewhere. The AR-15, the gun used by Cruz, continually reappears as a common weapon used by the suspects of mass shootings. Why should we provide someone with mental health issues a gun, let alone a semiautomatic weapon?


I support the Second Amendment, but the NRA has gone too far

by Behr, 12th grade, Overland Park, Kansas

The right to bear arms is one of the most important amendments, but when it comes to the safety of civilians and especially of children, something needs to be done. Through lobbying and donations of millions of dollars to Congress, the National Rifle Association continually does everything in its power to keep gun rights firmly secured. I don’t think the purchase of a weapon needs to be so strict that it becomes impossible for an average citizen to buy a firearm. But thorough background checks at gun shows and online seem to make sense to me. I’m not naïve enough to think that money and politics don’t play a significant role in Congress, but when it comes to the lives of innocent children, they should play a significantly less role than our actual government.


Tighter security all around would go a long way

by Kaitlyn, 12th grade, Gretna, Nebraska

Providing teachers with weapons could worsen the situation. A teacher could use a firearm against students or the students may be able to gain access to the gun in the classroom. Instead, teachers should be required to have shades on their windows, conduct regular drills rather than just twice a year and attend programs to learn what to do in an active intruder situation and then share the strategies with students. More cameras should be installed, a police officer should be posted on campus and technological advancements should be made in school security equipment. Schools should also require background checks on students as well as their ability to access guns.


MSD students have taken a page from their school’s activist namesake

by Michelle, 11th grade,  San Jose, California

I also learned that Marjory Stoneman Douglas was a journalist and activist for many causes throughout the 20th century – feminism, anti-racism and conservation among them. In a time when so many voices were silenced, she spoke up in order to promote the causes that she deeply believed in. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High have already taken a page from her book, speaking out against the cycle of violence, grief and inactivity. Perhaps it is time that we do so too.


I know it’s wrong, but I judge others

by Elizabeth, 11th grade, Traverse City, Michigan

I tend to judge. I walk through the hallways at school and see each person for who they are on the outside. Although I know this is wrong, I feel it could be useful knowing the events that have occurred recently in schools. I feel I have a grasp on the people who are safe and those who trigger a gut reaction to move. To me, this is useful, as everyday I take the path from my car to the school entrance, knowing this is the same walk a shooter would take. Many schools across the country are easy to get into. Doors are often unlocked and entrances are left unmonitored. Anyone could walk in with a gun in their pocket and not be stopped. So what do I do? I don’t let it get the best of me because you can’t live your life in fear.


Sounds of students’ uproar

by Aimee, 11th grade, Aurora, Illinois

When I was elementary school, I didn’t have to worry about someone coming into my school with an AR-15. If anything, I had to worry about if I was going to get a smiley sticker on my popsicle stick for being a good student that day. A decade later, as a junior in high school, I never thought I would be having class conversations about school shootings and what we would do if we had one. I never would have expected my teacher to tell me that they will do anything in their power to protect their students. I also never thought I would hear the sounds of students uproar. Students are organizing walkouts to protest inefficient gun laws and continuous broken promises from our President. We are tired of our voices being ignored. Something has to be done.


We need to change our pro-gun culture

by Justin, 11th grade, Medford, New York

Officials in high government positions who receive donations from the NRA should be ashamed of themselves. Gun homicide rates are 25.2 times higher in the U.S. than in other high-income countries. In many northern European countries and even our neighbor Canada, strict gun control laws are in place and the gun violence and homicide rates are low. Weapons should be reserved for those who work either in the military, police or security. These are lessons that need to be learned in school in conjunction with an anti-gun framework to develop in future generations.



Local communities need to take more action

by Gianna, 12th grade,  Alta Loma, California

The reality of it is, no matter how many laws are put in place, guns will be found and used. Laws are only useful to the people who obey them. However, where and when they are used can be more controlled. The country looks to the President to take action, but it can start in own our schools and homes. Social media can be observed with a more cautious eye, both by the district and the community. Further proactive approaches such as active shooter training, randomized searches, and implementation of psychology evaluations can all minimize the reality of school shootings. Media also plays a crucial role in school shootings by giving them a massive amount of attention. They should suppress any attempts by the shooters for attention and remove any potential glorification from the lives of these criminals.


Let’s start with some real gun control

by Whitney, 11th grade, Cottleville, Missouri

People who don’t support gun control will find every reason they can to explain school shootings: mental illness, bullying and so on. Yes, those are the shooter’s fuel, but ask yourselves: Could he have done that much damage with a knife? Could he have hurt that many people with his bare hands? I understand guns are not the sole blame for these tragedies, but I also understand that we need better gun control. To own a gun, people should have in-depth background checks, be approved by a doctor, and have to go through specific training like with a driver’s license. Some may argue that even with stricter gun control, people will still find ways to get guns, like how people have found ways to get weed and other illegal drugs, but so what? Stricter gun control is still a pretty good start at a safer future for America’s youth.


RELATED: Students who support gun rights say schools safer when ‘good guys’ are armed


Don’t ignore signs about a person’s mental health

by Ginger, 9th grade, Greenville, North Carolina

After each mass shooting, authorities investigate what could have been done to prevent such a horrific event. Others point to those who might have chosen to speak up and take action. In the most recent school shooting, it was quickly discovered that Nikolas Cruz had a history of threatening behavior and easy access to firearms. Many who knew him recognized that he was troubled and mentioned disturbing messages Cruz had made on social media. Even the FBI admitted to ignoring a warning that Cruz might attack a school, just weeks before the shooting rampage. This massacre may have been prevented if the government had been able to prevented the gunman from obtaining weapons, if it had taken more action.


We need to be kinder to each other

by Kinadi, 11th grade, Covington, Georgia

Just one day after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, several kids were caught with guns at different schools nearby to where I live. Several of my peers attended those same schools. It easily could’ve been my school. Yes, here in America, we have the right to bear arms, because at the time the Second Amendment was written, we had just fought a revolution. A weapon that was used to overthrow a colonial power in 1789, is now being used on students sitting in school, trying to learn.

Better regulation of guns would help, but if there are too many loopholes, shootings are likely to still happen. One thing I know we should do is to be kind to one other. Kindness goes a long way, and if we all made a little more effort to be kinder, maybe less shootings would occur, maybe those who need help won’t go straight for the trigger.


Gun control involves a little more paperwork, not taking away anyone’s rights

by Gabrielle, Joliet, Illinois

In the face of tragedy, rational thought often gets thrown out the window and people begin to panic, trying to make things happen that would probably only make things worse. For example, arming teachers and staff isn’t going to help anything. It’s just going to make those who want stricter gun control laws even angrier and make the possibility of those guns getting into the wrong hands even greater.

More security in schools could be a start. Having all students walk through metal detectors every morning is excessive, but necessary, at least for the time being. There has been talk of having older military veterans inside the schools, which could at least give parents some peace of mind. Stricter gun laws could also help. This doesn’t mean that everyone’s right to bear arms is going to be taken away. It just means a little more paperwork to make it harder for guns to get into the wrong hands.


Research would allow for stronger, smarter gun policy

by Madison, 12th grade, Anderson, Indiana

As times have changed since passage of the 2nd Amendment, so do state and federal gun laws. Take ammunition, for example. If magazines were limited to ten, the shooter would have to carry more magazines. In the event of an attack, the police would have more time to do whatever was needed to stop the shooter. Other preventative measures include requiring gun safety classes in public school, so that students would be more prepared to use and handle situations involving guns, and conducting more research. In 1996, federal gun research was stopped and the funds were transferred to another department. If research on gun control was resumed, and we saw new statistics on gun purchases and learned more about the demographics of those gun manufacturers are most likely to target, we could create gun policy that address the issue head on.


We didn’t blame Samsung users when their phones exploded

by Megan, 11th grade, Jenison, Michigan

Many people argue that conversations about gun control are not an appropriate response to a school shooting. They encourage others to send thoughts and prayers, but nothing else. In many other areas of tragedy or discomfort, people are quick to demand reform and regulations. When the Samsung Note 7 phones were catching on fire in people’s pockets, we didn’t blame them for using their phones or send them thoughts and prayers. Instead, we demanded that Samsung take care of the issue and make sure that their phones no longer had the potential to harm their customers. Unfortunately, this is not how the use of guns is viewed in our country. This thinking needs to change.


It comes down to ethics

by Tommy, 11th grade, Barrington, Illinois

A majority of the country, 59 percent, say they are dissatisfied with the nation’s gun laws, up 5 percent from last year, according to Gallup. Yet this trend counters the voting record displayed by our “representative” leaders. I’m not asking for an outright ban on guns. I just think some restrictions to stop violent individuals and suspected terrorists (who’ve been placed on government watch lists) from purchasing weapons is the moral thing to do.



We’d be better off if the gun did pull the trigger

by Jasmuan, high school student, Interlochen, Michigan

I live in a small city in Michigan. Since we are a little out of the loop, I am able to see the faults in both parties. On one hand, there are old Congressmen who believe that changing gun laws will make the situation very similar to prohibition, because let’s face it, Americans are raised believing they can have everything and do anything they please.

Similarly to today, we raise children to think that because several school shootings have taken place and violence is romanticized, that this is a perfectly normal way to live. That it’s completely plausible for a shooter to come to their school and kill children. After all, it’s something the adults have trained them for — children are no longer taught to hide from bombs, but to hide under their dead classmate just to survive. Which is why I stand with the students. In a video I watched a young girl say that she didn’t want to be another statistic. She wanted things to change, and she wanted politicians to stop sweeping the topic under the rug because, “It’s not the right time.” No amount of time is going to change how much Americans have been taught to embrace violence. We’d be better off if the gun did pull the trigger.


Understand the big picture

by Shadayah, 12th grade, Flint, Michigan

We should look at the bigger picture rather than debate specific gun laws, like age requirements. A 21-year old can make the same mistakes as an 18-year old, and many people commit murder over the age of 21. The Florida school shooting was a terrible tragedy, and my prayers go out to the families involved. But sadly, the attack had little to do with guns and everything to do with the heart. We live in a world full of hate and division, and there is little respect and tolerance for those of differing opinions. We all have our opinions on what should be done about the shootings, but most importantly we should show compassion for the families who just lost their children.


Where would the money to arm teachers come from?

by Emma, Traverse City, Michigan

One of the proposed solutions to arm teachers so they can fight off a school shooter has a lot of problems. Where would the money come from to do that? Would the government (state or federal?) pitch in or would it be an unfunded mandate? The ability to take down another person with a gun safely requires lots of training. Would that be paid for as well? On top of all that, the ability to take down an active shooter isn’t exactly in the job title or description of teacher. Their main purpose is to educate students. Plus, not everyone would want to carry a gun in the first place. At the end of the day, I would rather have the security that individuals with questionable backgrounds cannot receive guns over the off chance that one of my teachers will be brave enough — and a good enough shot — to fend off a murderer.



I have been alive for 24 fatal school shootings

Emma, 12th grade, Joliet, Illinois

In my 18 years, I have been alive for 24 fatal school shootings. I was born nearly seven months after Columbine, and therefore for every year I have lived there has been at least one mass shooting at an elementary or high school in America. In addition to fatal school shootings, I have lived through shootings at nightclubs, churches, movie theaters and concerts. I have prayed and cried for the victims; hated the perpetrators, and signed every petition to the government I have come across.

I hope that there is someone, some politician, who will finally see the obvious problem with America’s gun policy and change it. The key word here is “change.” To completely eradicate the Second Amendment would be unethical, but why can’t there be changes? Why should someone looking to purchase an assault rifle not be thoroughly background checked? Why can an 18-year-old not purchase a drink, but can purchase a weapon with the capability of killing hundreds?


In the U.S., we shouldn’t be afraid to go out in public

by Skylar, 12th grade, St. Peters, Missouri

And as I scroll down my Twitter feed, seeing this list of 17 names over and over and over again, I can’t help but wonder, why not me? There’s no reason that the shooting in Parkland, Florida didn’t happen at my high school, that these 17 people weren’t my friends, my teachers. We as a country should not be afraid of going to school or going out in public, afraid of those around us who may or may not be dangerous or toting a gun bought under lax regulations. We have to take action now. If we don’t, we’ll have another tragedy on our hands within a month — another list of names of those who didn’t survive.


I have one teacher who has talked with me about school shootings

by Eric, 9th grade, Barrington, Illinois

One of my siblings has special needs. How am I supposed to know if she’s going to be safe if an attack were to occur? Schools need to be sure they have specific procedures in place for students like my sister. At my school, my global studies teacher is the only teacher I know who has talked about school shootings and lockdowns. She has been exceptionally helpful in discussing the issue of gun violence. It has helped me to be as prepared as I can be, if something were to occur.


We need more funding for mental health

by Austin, 11th grade, Alexandria, Virginia

Instead of attacking guns directly, Congress should come up with a compromise plan. It should include a task force specifically designed to cut down on illegal ways to obtain weapons and increased funding for mental health. When it boils down to it, whether it be a soldier suffering from PTSD or a teenager with depression or anxiety, our government simply does not do enough when it comes to funding mental health.



Military-style weapons do not belong in the hands of civilians

by Cassie, 6th grade, Westfield, New Jersey

I would like to know how the President plans to protect the citizens of this country from those citizens who own military-style weapons — military-style weapons whose main purpose is to kill.

In the U.S., where citizens can buy a gun with ease and very little gun regulation, has 32,850 deaths due to gun violence a year. Meanwhile, Japan has a 10-step rigorous gun buying process and has only 10 deaths per year due to gun violence. This isn’t a coincidence. If we institute similar gun control as Japan, then maybe we can prevent the untimely deaths of students and teachers and all citizens. If one person tried to bring a bomb on a plane, and now passengers must take their shoes off to get through security, we can pass gun reform.


How could you ask teachers to handle a gun?

Clara, 11th grade, Indianapolis, Indiana

It was fourth period, and I was dissecting a pig’s heart in the lab. I was making jokes with classmates when the fire alarm started to blare and an uneasy feeling came over my classmates and I. We froze and looked at our teacher, as he hesitated to say, “Drop your things and go.”

“Is this a repeat of the Stoneman shooting?” we asked ourselves. We later found out that it was simply a “faulty smoke detector.”

According to Axios, 122 people have died in school shootings since Columbine in 1999. It’s time for change. It was time 18 years ago.

Lately, the idea of arming teachers has surfaced in many news outlets. What will fighting fire with fire solve? Nothing. This puts students like me in the crossfire and burdens teachers with a responsibility that they never should have been asked to take on. School security doesn’t need to be upped and teachers don’t need to be armed. I’m not going to prison. I’m going to school.


This generation will take up the mantle of leadership

by Alvin, 11th grade, Jacksonville, Florida

The massacre in Newtown, Connecticut was the first time that I was able to form an understanding of a school shooting. I learned that 20 children and six educators had been robbed of their futures and would not be returning to walk the halls of their school. Since then, I have learned about many mass shootings in schools and in other places where each person did not expect any danger and yet, their lives were ended. One would think that to witness this tragedy time and time again that our reactions would be muted, that we would grow numb in the face of adverse tragedy and pain. Honestly, that may be true for some, but not for me. With each one of these events that I witness, my emotional reaction intensifies. As our leaders do nothing, sacrificing the lives of children and adults for a brief glimpse of their names in the history books — names that will appear in infamy — this generation will take up the mantle of leadership.


Parkland students have emerged as true leaders

by Audrey, 12th grade, Woodbridge, Virginia

During times like these, the nation looks to those in positions of authority to lead. When our President, government officials and even our schools are unable or refuse to lead, we have to create those leaders ourselves. The survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting have emerged as those leaders.

The MSD students are some of the most remarkable people I have ever seen. In between going to classmate’s funerals, they have taken a stand. Their voices will not be silenced. The students are taking to social media and speaking at rallies in order to get their stories out. These teenagers are demanding change and are leading an entire generation to speak out and make our voices heard.


Change the age to buy a firearm to 21

by Sophia, 12th grade, Flint, Michigan

Those in high levels of authority — including lawmakers and the President — are not acting fast enough. Many teachers, students and parents are doing whatever in their power to help, but these groups can only do so much. It seems like every time there is a major issue that needs to be fixed right away, the president and all three branches of government work at a slow pace. Here is one solution they can start with: Every state should require individuals who want to buy a gun and obtain a firearm license to be over the age of 21.



It will take several solutions — changing gun laws is not one of them

by Dominique, 12th grade, Flint, Michigan

If you want to make schools safer, changing guns laws is not going to do it. It’s the people who pull the trigger who doe the killing. Instead, we need to tighten up security around the school and patrol all entrances, making sure they are locked at all times. There should be metal detectors located at two or more entrances. This might be more expensive, but it would help keep students safe while they’re at school. Students should also carry their student ID around at all times. Another way to keep students and staff safe from an active shooter is to report if you hear or see something concerning on social media to your principal, parent or the police. These authorities could prevent the problem from happening by talking to the individual or group of members and seeing what they can do to help.


Guns have created a much larger public health problem than we want to admit

By Emma, 11th grade, Lake Zurich, Illinois

What I don’t understand is why this is what it takes for us to have a conversation. Out of the 90 Americans who lose their lives each day to gun violence, almost 60 of them commit suicide using a gun. Domestic violence killings occur behind closed doors all around us. Children are getting into their parents’ gun cabinets with tragic results. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be thinking about school violence, but I believe in acknowledging the more common, but no less deeply profound, gun tragedies that befall the nation every single day with little notice. Guns have created a much larger public health problem. Why on earth aren’t we talking about it?


Elected leaders: The ball is in your court

by Sachi, 8th grade, Honolulu, Hawaii

Elected leaders have the ball in their court. Do they want to save more lives or not? Because it seems like everyone except our politicians cares about this issue. But as much as I blame Congress and state leaders in Florida for lax guns laws, I also blame the people who knew that Nikolas Cruz, a very troubled young man, owned a gun, and didn’t take it away.




Small scale solutions that will make a difference

by Diana, 11th Grade, Chicago, Illinois

Many high school counseling departments are understaffed and forced to focus on numbers instead of student health. A parent of a high school student should know that when their child leaves for school, the student is safe and has access to mental help if needed, but that isn’t the reality in a lot of schools.

More funding is also needed for up-to-date security equipment in schools, another key part of school safety that suffers due to lack of funding. School administrators need to be sure that security cameras function properly, locks and doors close all the way and drills are routinely practiced. It can take a long time for government leaders to make decisions for a variety of reasons. These are changes that can happen right now. 


This isn’t how you treat children

by Abby, high school student, Gretna, Nebraska

We are told that we are the next generation, the final hope for the future. If that’s the case, it seems strange to put our lives at risk five days out of seven. Are we truly expected to be the greatest we can be knowing that our society has turned its back on us–for the sake of owning five or ten more guns?

Political discussions often center around the livelihood of the children. Within debates about abortion, same sex marriage, transgender bathroom bills and even the use of vaccines, everyone appears to be very concerned about the well-being of each and every child. But not with gun control. With gun control, the lives of children are an afterthought. Innocent students are slaughtered at school, and we are just told that we must add more guns and hope that the “good guys” can shoot faster with more accuracy. Are we really so resistant to being proven wrong that we will let young students be massacred? In a country built on change, we must be willing to change — even on this.


I can see both sides of the issue

by Landon, 12th grade, Anderson, Indiana

I agree with certain aspects from each side of the gun debate. People will still be able to get guns even if they outlaw them, much like how most drugs are illegal, but people are still able to obtain them. This could make the situation even worse because people will then not have anything to use to protect themselves against a criminal with a gun. That being said, we need to create more restrictions to slow down the process of how people purchase guns, including in-depth background checks and mandatory gun safety classes. With school shootings, we either need to have more security on school grounds, or we need to have some teachers who are allowed to carry a weapon in case of an attack. These teachers would only be known to the school administration. It’s time we do something.


At this point in a teenager’s life, the main problem should be finding a prom date

by Ella, 11th grade, Gretna, Nebraska

The day after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, my history teacher attempted to talk to my class about the shooting. We were all silent; it was too painful to recall the faces of the dead students and teachers.

At this point in teenagers’ lives, our main problems should be finding a prom date, redesigning our Instagram page and arguing over the plot points of the Red Queen series. And not thinking about the chances of being shot in school.

The U.S. is the only country in the developed world with regular school shootings. The obvious difference between us and other nations is our lack of comprehensive gun control.


Our society values an education system that teaches students public speaking

by Trisha, 11th grade, Rochester, New York

While it is our right to bear arms, we also have a right to life. Some say it is disrespectful or attempting to politicize a tragedy by speaking out after a shooting. I disagree. As students, we trying to ensure that it never happens again. We learn in school how important it is to teach young people how to use their voices when they see something wrong. What could be more wrong than children being killed in the same place they learned such a valuable lesson? Being able to peacefully stand up for what is right is one of the most critical parts of American society.


Nobody wants to become a school shooter

by Sadler, 10th grade, Greenville, North Carolina

While drills and surveillance can help prepare a school for such a disaster, those who wish to carry out such an act will find a way to do so. The easiest way to halt this pattern of school shootings is to focus on security from the inside. Continue with security protocols and drills and increase camera surveillance, but don’t overdramatize the issue. Avoid enhanced measures, like metal detectors or police officers, which make schools feel like prisons.

Find ways to improve the morale of the student body. Make schools kinder places. Help stop bullying and racism. Protect students mentally, and they will be safer physically. Remember, nobody wants to become a school shooter.


I’m not usually a political person, but I feel strongly about this one

by Nick, 10th grade, Gloucester, Massachusetts

I am not usually one to speak up on government and political matters, but this one I feel very strongly about. School shootings are one of the scariest things that a teenager in the 21st century faces. I am scared for my classmates; I am scared for my teachers; I am scared for my siblings. I have heard politicians say that we need metal detectors, police men, dogs, etc. What we really need is a community and a country that has stricter gun laws. I see no reason for regular everyday people to carry guns. I see no reason for children to be able to access guns. I see no reason for mentally ill people to have access to guns. I see no reason for my classmates, siblings and teachers to be fearful in a place that should represent the future of our youth and the future of our nation.


Our trust in the FBI has been broken

by Peyton, high school student, Traverse City, Michigan

The FBI admitted they sent a tip about Nikolas Cruz’s violent tendencies, which stated his “desire to kill people,” including him carrying out a school shooting. They also reported that the FBI did not follow protocol and Cruz should have been assessed as “a potential threat to life.” It frightens me that our own law enforcement, created to protect us at all costs, did not take these tips seriously. This should be a wake up call to Washington to do something about how our law enforcement responds to such threats and work on ways to build back the trust that has been broken.


Repeal the Dickey Amendment, so we can study the problem of gun violence

by Caleb, 12th grade, Orange City, Iowa

This time feels different. Our generation is not waiting for more kids to suffer while politicians offer “thoughts and prayers,” instead of doing their job. Thoughts and prayers mean nothing if the people in power do not allow God to work through them. And if politicians refuse to protect their constituents, we will use our vote to take that power away.

Solving the U.S.’s gun problem will not be simple, but it can be done one step at a time. For instance, repealing the Dickey Amendment, which effectively banned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting research on gun violence, would allow us to have more informed discussions on the topic.

Requiring insurance for all guns owned by individuals would be another positive way to increase firearm responsibility. Nearly every state legally requires car insurance, so it follows that weapons capable of mass destruction would have similar policies. They do not. Not only would enforcing insurance coverage boost overall responsibility, it would provide reason for private companies to be invested in limiting destruction caused by firearms.


We will stage walkouts

by Lauren, 12th grade, Yardley, Pennsylvania

No one is asking to take away guns as a whole. Just for some sensible legislation that restricts automatic weapons from the public and brings extensive background checks to the floor. Lawmakers seem to do anything to get out of having a conversation about gun control, due to the money that is funned to them by the NRA, but this stops now. As students, we are going to make our voices heard. We are going to stage walkouts and contact our Congresspeople until we feel safe. Children dying is not a partisan issue. We deserve to come home to our parents.


Educate the public about gun safety — and get rid of add-ons

by Kamryn, 12th grade, Anderson, Indiana

We need additional gun policy, including a ban on certain add-ons that make guns more dangerous, like large magazine clips, bump stocks and silencers. We should keep in place current gun-free zones as well as expand them to include college universities, churches and hospitals.

Educating the public more on firearms will prevent accidental shootings and raise awareness for how large-scale attacks affect communities long after the incident. A gun safety course should be mandatory for those individuals who want to own a gun and should be a requirement to earn a GED. The program will involve a crash course about the history of firearms, proper shooting techniques and the dangers of guns.


The case for arming teachers

by Travis, 12th grade, Anderson, Indiana

One of the big stories from the Parkland shooting is the teacher that saved many kids by using himself as a shield. This man is without a doubt a hero. And I feel that many of my teachers would risk their lives to save myself and the other students. But if they had a weapon, then they could protect us — and themselves — even more. If a teacher does not feel comfortable with carrying a weapon, then they should not have to. Right now, teachers are defending their students with what? A closed door? Hiding in the corner of the room?


RELATED: Lesson plan: Does Trump’s school safety plan make schools safer?


Even with tight security measures in place, we still need more mental health care

by Zoey, 11th grade, Traverse City, Michigan

My English teacher referred to our classroom as a sanctuary – a place of refuge, a place of safety. That is what it should be. I should be able to walk into my school and down the halls without fear of hearing an announcement about an active shooter in the building. I should be able to trust each of my classmates that they would never inflict such harm on others.

I don’t blame our schools. They provide us with OK2SAY, a state-funded resource, which lets anyone report a confidential tip about plans to harm Michigan students or school personnel. We have state-mandated lockdown drills, several emergency exits and each door has a “boot” lock to keep the shooter out. The problem is the shooter may not always be out. It could be one of my peers.

Our government has overlooked the possibility that the issue may be mental health. I do not know the mental stability of my classmates. I do not know whether or not they have the will to come to school one day with the intent to harm us. If students were given easy access to mental health resources, I think we would be much more able to solve the problem.


Mental illness is not an excuse to shoot up a school

by Danielle, high school student, Joliet, Illinois

School administrators in Parkland should have taken better precautions. Nikolas Cruz had been reported numerous times as a danger to society by others in the community. He was also expelled from the high school some time before the attack. School officials need to know every visitor who enters school grounds and have a stronger verification process in place when checking student IDs. Cruz was able to walk on campus and after going on a killing spree, flee the building by blending in with the students.  While Cruz may have suffered from mental illness, this is not an excuse to carry out such a crime. Cruz was able to think outside the box and show cognitive thinking. He never should have been able to buy a gun, let alone an AR-15.


Why walkouts may not be the best way to solve the problem

by Hannah, 11th grade, Cedar, Michigan

When I think about school shootings, I think about the victims first. I see myself in them. I am a sixteen-year-old student in a small town with big aspirations who loves sports and friends and watching The Bachelor with her mom every Monday night. I am Alyssa Alhadeff, a freshman in high school who played soccer and went to summer camp. I am Luke Hoyer, 15, a kid who was “always smiling” and whose laugh was contagious. I am Carmen Schentrup, National Merit Scholar semifinalist with huge academic potential.

These Parkland students, who had their lives ripped unfairly away from them, are just like me. I am not God, and I do not have the answer to ending school shootings, but I do know that more guns does not equal less death. I know there are several walkouts planned in the coming days, but I don’t think this is the correct route towards solving gun violence either. I don’t want to learn in fear, but I also don’t want to not learn at all. There does not have to be a risk between living in fear and living in ignorance.


Why are our politicians standing up now?

by Sophia, 9th grade, Joliet, Illinois

What I don’t understand is, why now? Why are officials now paying attention to the looming threat of school shootings? Why has the President now decided the issue was worth his time of day? Why did it take the death of 17 people to spark a nationwide conversation for change? The thing that angers me the most is the people who have the power to do something are the ones that are doing the least. When mass shootings take place, our elected officials often depict them as a simple mishap of events. Now I realize it’s up to the smaller voices, like me, to convince those bigger voices in power to finally stand up and make a change.


Social media’s power to fuel student support

by Jennifer, 11th grade, Jacksonville, Florida

I believe the capability for students to harness political change is being much underestimated. We value empathy and believe compassion overrides privileged comfort. With social media providing a global platform, students can personally engage with their audience by direct messaging and live streaming. Children are using the internet to their advantage, engaging not only larger audiences to take political action, but building an increased awareness of the inequalities all around us. And despite the stigma regarding how much students use technology, there is great merit to fueling students’ bravery through thousands of likes and retweets. My peers are actively engaged in the news around them and are driven to make America a better country for all.


Two concrete solutions

by Ben, 12th grade, Anderson, Indiana

There are two concrete solutions to the problem: require a certain number of teachers to carry firearms and ban all semi-automatic firearms. A law that requires certain teachers to carry firearms would be somewhat like an “air marshal” on an airplane. A debate would likely take place as to how a ban on semi-automatic firearms goes against the Second Amendment, however, a normal citizen does not need to own such a firearm.



Mass shootings like these do not happen in other countries

by Eamonn, 11th grade, Interlochen, Michigan

I am not a gun person. In my life, I have never shot a gun and have only touched a gun a handful of times. To be completely honest, they terrify me. The day after the Parkland shooting, every student received a school-wide email saying, “If you see something, say something.” Is this what we have come to? We have to send messages to students telling them to watch their backs in school instead of hitting this at the root of the problem. Guns.

The Florida shooting was seen initially as another shooting. It was another Columbine, another Sandy Hook, another Pulse nightclub and another Las Vegas. We in America had become numb to the reality of the situation. This does not happen in other countries. Kids do not have to fear being shot while learning and that pisses me off. We deserve to feel safe in our schools, movie theaters or concerts. We deserve not to have to worry if the angry kid in the corner is going to be the next school shooter. We are called “America’s future” and we do not deserve to live in fear. The time for change begins now.



Public and private schools need to be more secure

by Sydney, 10th grade, Decatur, Georgia

Schools need to be more secure. There needs to be monthly active shooter drills at every school, public and private, and an increase in security guards. One of the biggest mistakes we’ve made is ignoring the warning signs, which has resulted in many deaths. If students or teachers notice that a young person is making threats to the school or other students, it needs to be reported immediately. The correct action needs to be taken from there.


We must be advocate for the victims

by Libby, 10th grade, Parker, Colorado

As a student, the idea that authority figures are permitting students who have shown blatant signs of violence to have access to lethal weapons is terrifying. The idea that any high school student has the ability to obtain a gun is terrifying.

As students, teachers, parents and citizens, we must continue to pressure our lawmakers and representatives in Washington to end this epidemic and keep kids safe. As leaders and role models, our politicians must take measures regarding gun control, especially to prevent those who are underage or have certain mental health issues from obtaining a firearm and thoroughly investigate those who show any hint of homicidal action. We cannot allow ourselves to normalize these horrific events. We must be advocates for the victims who can no longer advocate for themselves.


Everyone should be able to buy a gun, but I also believe in gun regulation

by Dru, 12th grade, Anderson, Indiana

I’ve grown up around guns my whole life. My family is a big supporter of guns and their worth. While I think everyone should be able to buy and own a gun, I believe there needs to be some regulations, including mental health screenings and background checks. All guns should be registered with each owner. If not, there should be a penalty.

Handguns are a different story. Individuals should be required to hold a concealed carry permit by completing a gun safety class. In order to buy a semi-automatic rifle, you should have to go through additional classes to show proper handling skills. The biggest thing Indiana needs to do is to make sure who owns what guns and regulate them accordingly.


Politicians needs to stop saying sorry and do something to help

by McKennah, 12th grade, Frankton, Indiana

Since the shooting in Florida, the public has expressed outrage that the leaders of this country are not doing much to help solve the problem. Guns need to be given to the right people and stricter gun laws, including mental health screenings and background checks, need to be implemented.

While these measures could lessen school shootings, having a weapons-trained faculty member in the building could help as well. This person would be located inside the building, instead of patrolling outside, and would be trained to handle a school shooting situation. They would also be trained on how to read behavior in order to identify potential school shooters. Our leaders need to stop saying sorry and do something to help.


Active shooter training needs to be more rigorous

by Aileen, 10th grade, Plainfield, Illinois

Teachers and students need to be better prepared for an active shooter situation on campus. Although there are drills in which the class goes to one side of the room and away from the windows, more precautions could be taken. Classes should be required to have surprise active shooter drills. The only people who should know about the drills should be parents and staff. Students will be put into a situation that will help them prepare for the possibility of a real life situation.

Staff should have training outside of school for these types of situations. Training should include ways to protect themselves and students, such as learning self-defense techniques. Many teachers only know basic procedures given to them by the school, but more in-depth training would be beneficial to everyone.


it’s time to make a change, before another shooting

by Madeleine, college freshman, Ann Arbor, Michigan

I remember at college summer orientation, they showed us a video depicting a school shooting, and what we should do if we were in that situation. The options were run, hide, fight, and in that order. I was sitting in the auditorium in a row of people I had just met, thinking about how scary it would be to have to hide under seats in a lecture, or to have to run for my life in a library.

It’s time to make a change before another inevitable shooting. I would propose a ban on all assault-style weapons. There is no reason that any person needs an AR-15, or any semi-automatic. That’s not self defense. That’s not sport. Those types of machines, military grade weapons, were made for murder, and if history has told us anything, they’re doing exactly what they were designed to do. But they’re not just being used in military conflicts, they’re being used in classrooms, churches, music festivals, and movie theaters.



Australia changed gun laws after one mass shooting — it worked

by Ana, 11th grade, Greenville, North Carolina

On April 28, 1996, a shooter held fire and took the lives of 35 people in Port Arthur, Australia. Under the Prime Minister’s leadership, gun restriction laws were promptly changed after the incident. The laws that restrict guns from then on included a ban on the private ownership of semi-automatic rifles and shotguns and an overhaul of the firearms licensing system. No fatal mass shootings have taken place in Australia since.

Clearly, this epidemic does not just affect our schools. Movie theaters, shopping malls, cafes and concerts are just a few of the places that pose a danger. So how do we get laws similar to Australia’s passed? We protest, we educate, we contact legislature and we don’t rest until we feel safe in our own communities.


Some ideas may appear to go overboard–but nowadays–they are completely necessary

by Carly, 12th grade, Frankton, Indiana

When someone goes to buy a gun, they should be required to undergo mental health screenings and take a firearms knowledge test. As far as school safety, three armed security guards should be placed at every school in the nation. This will make anyone think twice before shooting up a school. If schools had the money, bullet-proof windows and doors should be installed along with metal detectors. Some people might think these ideas are going overboard, but I feel they are completely necessary nowadays.


Student resistance is crucial to this movement

by Janey, 11th grade, Jacksonville, Florida 

The recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, while immensely tragic, is nothing new for our country. My whole life has been affected by mass shootings, and while I fear them, I have also become dangerously desensitized to them. However, there is something different about the Parkland Shooting. It has set in motion a revolution of student action, and my generation has finally reached our breaking point.

Right now, a group of my peers and I are helping to organize one of many branches, the Student Initiative for Gun Reform in America (SIGRA), to participate in the National Student Walkout on April 20th. Student resistance is crucial to this movement. It has become obvious to us that if we want to stop ourselves and our peers from being mowed down, then it is up to us to act.


It’s scarily easy to buy a gun at Walmart

by Zoe, 12th grade, Durham, North Carolina

Guns are scarily easy to buy. I went to Walmart’s website, searched guns and found a wide array of shotguns and rifles for purchase. You can add to cart, fill out your address and credit card information and click order. You just need to be willing to pick up the gun in-store and undergo the federal instant background check, which itself has numerous flaws, resulting in denials being issued just 1.6 percent of the time. That’s all it takes to buy a gun in the United States.

Our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution in 1787, when the most common weapons were muskets and pistols, meanwhile six of the ten most deadly school shootings in the last decade have used AR-15 rifles. An AR-15 can fire 45 rounds per minute. A revolutionary-era musket could fire three. The normalization of gun culture in the U.S. has contributed to the problem we have today. Keeping guns for recreational purposes as well as the portrayal of these weapons and those who use them in video games and on TV has contributed to the idea that gun violence is somehow normal. Thoughts and prayers won’t fix this problem.


An array of gun safety classes and tests are needed to solve the problem

by Hannah, Anderson, Indiana

Gun regulations should include self-defense and firearms safety classes, mental health screenings as well as written and performance tests that asses gun knowledge. If a person passes all of these assessments, they should be required to carry their permit with them whenever they have their firearm. Follow-up appointments should take place each year to make sure a person still qualifies to own a firearm. Some school personnel should be permitted to have a firearm on or near them to protect students in the event of an active shooter. Law enforcement can take several minutes to get to a school, depending on how far away they are, so an armed school official could be helpful in the interim.


We all need to take the blame

by Ericesa, 11th grade, Joliet, Illinois

I think everyone is to blame for school shooting tragedies, especially social media companies. Principals, deans, teachers and staff are to blame because they are the ones whose job it is to make it school safe and welcoming. Parents are to blame because they live with their kids and should always be there to talk with them. If young people don’t have both parents or an adult in their life they can trust, serious problems could occur. Parents should know who their children are friends with and talk with their kids about peer pressure which could lead to dangerous situations, like gun violence.


We need to protect kids, not guns

by Ana Maria, 9th grade, Barrington, Illinois

At 15, teenagers can get their permit. At 16, teens can get their license and are entrusted with their lives and many others every time they drive. And yet, despite that large responsibility, they are not allowed to vote. Young people are just as affected by laws as adults, and in the case of gun violence in schools, even more so, but no one seems to hear our voices. Kids sit in class in fear. Kids are worried about whether a classmate is going to shoot them. Kids are scared and feel unsafe. How are we expected to learn when we are in a constant state of fear? Don’t tell us that we are too young to understand. Don’t tell us that we should feel safe. We will not feel safe until gun control laws are established. The Constitution was made when there was not automatic weapons that can kill many people very quickly. It is time for a change. We need to protect kids, not guns.


RELATED: Class activity: Will school walkouts inspire lawmakers to act?


Bring back the 1994 assault weapons ban

by Scout, 11th grade, Jenison, Michigan

I am for sensible gun control measures similar to the 1994 assault weapons ban. Civilians should have guns for self-defense and hunting only, two things in which an assault weapon like the AR-15 is unnecessary. There would be a government buy-back for those who already own assault weapon-style guns and a waiting period for those who wish to purchase a gun. Also, the age to buy a gun needs to be raised from 18 to at least 21. I find it ridiculous that it’s considered unsafe for 18-year-olds to drink alcoholic beverages, but it’s okay for them to purchase a powerful weapon.

Additionally, mental health screenings should take place at least once a year to prove gun owners are mentally fit to own a gun. This system would be paid for with a luxury item tax placed on each gun owned by an individual. I know for some, this all sounds very radical. But America needs to wake up and realize that we are the only developed nation where massacres like this are so commonplace that we forget about them three days after they happen.


Walkouts honor the lives lost in school shootings

by Taylor, 9th grade, Winterville, North Carolina

Students as well as teachers deserve an environment that is free of any type of violence. To honor the students and teachers who died in Parkland, Florida, and to peacefully protest gun violence and the need for a change, many people are participating in school walkouts. While the obvious solution to stop gun violence would be to ban guns, this will not necessarily solve the problem. Just because something is illegal does not mean people will not do it. Instead, we need gun laws to regulate gun purchases and require individuals to go through training and licensing to get a gun. After all, guns were meant for the battlefield, not for schools.



Schools need to take lockdown drills more seriously

by Eva, Hudsonville, Michigan

I live in a relatively “safe” area, but nonetheless, recent events have prompted me to consider the security of schools. At this point, I don’t feel that schools are prepared to deal with a school shooting should an armed individual attempt to attack the premise. Two or three times a year, my school like many others take part in lockdown drills which entail locking the classroom door, shutting the blinds, turning off the lights and crowding ourselves into the furthest corner of the classroom. While schools need to be sure to practice these drills more frequently than just a few times a year, I also feel that these drills do not offer us enough protection in the case of an emergency. I’m confident that our doors and windows could easily be broken open, and that a squatting clump of 30 students would be an easy target.

Teachers have even mentioned during such drills “if there were really a lockdown, I’d send you all out the window.” However, I don’t think that in the midst of an emergency is the time to be “changing the plan,” and I wish we would have a plan that didn’t leave us as “sitting ducks” to begin with. For example, I think we should have a more offensive strategy, such as standing perpendicular to the same wall as the door or window, with heavy objects to throw at a potential shooter, should they enter the classroom.

Another problem schools face is that the lack of plans in the case that there is a need for a lockdown during passing time, assembly or lunch. I don’t want schools to focus merely on the “ease of the drills,” but instead the effectiveness of them.


Unless you’re in the military, there is no reason for you to own a military-style weapon

by Alissa, 12th grade, Anderson, Indiana

Restrictions need to be put on guns. The changes do not need to be drastic at first, but you have to start somewhere. The most recent Parkland shooting, the night club in Orlando, the church in Texas and the shooting in Las Vegas, which combined killed 149 people, were all performed with legally bought weapons. How many innocent people have to die at the hands of legally bought weapons before the line is drawn? One of the biggest arguments for keeping military-style weapons in civilian homes is self-defense, but semi-automatic weapons are more than enough for these purposes.

Another argument is the 2nd Amendment. Yes, you should have the right to bear arms. No, you should not have the right to carry these incredibly powerful weapons. These guns are extremely dangerous and are notorious for being involved in mass shootings. Bump stocks should also be restricted. Bump stocks make semi-automatic rifles resemble a fully automatic rifle. Again, unless you are in the military, there is no reason for you as a civilian to own such a weapon. As a nation, the amount of mass shootings is unacceptable. Change needs to happen, and there is no arguing that.


We have armed guards at banks, airports and jewelry stores but not for our children

by Jobe, 12th grade, Anderson, Indiana

Whenever a mad man goes off the rails and starts shooting people at random the topic
of gun control always makes the headlines. Current gun regulations are sufficient and can lengthen the gun buying process when necessary. Making it harder for law-abiding citizens to obtain firearms is not the solution. Criminals will always have guns. Mad men will always kill people. Guns and regulations are not the issue. On April 9, 2014, Alex Hribal stabbed 22 people in his high school. If someone wants to hurt people, they will find a way.

Instead of focusing on banning or regulating guns and attachments, we should be more focused on security for our children. We have armed guards at banks, airports and jewelry stores but not for our children. We guard all of our material possessions, but we make schools a “gun-free zone” and leave the most valuable and irreplaceable things in the world unprotected. Gun-free school zones make soft targets. Instead of imposing regulations on law abiding citizens, we need to fund a school protection program. There are many retired veterans that would love to have a job protecting our children in school.


Parkland survivors face unprecedented backlash

by Mira, 10th grade, Iowa City, Iowa

The Parkland tragedy has inspired action and calls for change. The survivors of this shooting, as well as students across the country, have taken action by planning walkouts, sending messages over social media and speaking with lawmakers. However, in many cases they also face unprecedented backlash: many opponents of their gun-control platform are painting unsavory pictures of these students, asserting that they are tools of the liberal media and that their grief is somehow orchestrated.

To minimize the students’ grief in such a way is beyond callous. We automatically assume that movements for change are somehow motivated by politics. To propose that the media and “the other side” are using or manufacturing grief for their own purposes reduces the people making such accusations to political devices. We see tragedy so often that we latch onto it as an opportunity to advance our own goals. It is inexcusable. At these times, it is hard to imagine what has happened to our humanity.


Regulations should focus on the people, not the guns

by Tyler, 12th grade, Anderson, Indiana

As it is now, guns are way too easy to obtain. At gun shows, people can buy guns without showing that they should even be able to own a gun. In order to purchase a gun like a rifle or shotgun, you need to be 18, but to purchase a pistol you have to be 21. I suggest that the age to buy any type of gun be moved up to 21. A person should undergo a mental health screening, a background check and a test on how to use a gun similar to the test to get a driver’s license. Anyone who already has possession of a gun and is under 21, should be allowed to keep it. However, going forward, no one under 21 should be able to buy a gun. Regulations should focus on the people, not the guns.


Unfortunately, responsible gun owners are not the ones who receive the spotlight

by Madison, 9th grade, McKinney, Texas

There should be no circumstance in which people like Nikolas Cruz, the shooter who attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, should be able to legally purchase a gun of that caliber, especially when you take his background into account. People who have shown homicidal tendencies, people who display certain symptoms of mental illness and even people who aren’t allowed to vote yet have been accumulating these weapons of mass destruction. That is not okay.

On the other side of this issue, guns shouldn’t be taken away as a whole, as there are many responsible owners in this country. Unfortunately, they are not the ones who receive the spotlight. This isn’t an issue of guns period. This is an issue of certain people being allowed access to guns.

We want to hear from you! To share your solution to gun violence in schools, send a tweet @NewsHourExtra using #StudentGunReformIdeas.

If you are a middle or high school student and would like to share your writing on Student Voices on a current issue in the news, please contact NewsHour education editor, Victoria Pasquantonio, at

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