Gun control is very divisive issue, with ardent supporters of the 2nd amendment and those wanting stronger regulations on firearms dominating a polarizing point of discussion. This debate has heated up recently after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in Parkland, Florida where 17 students were killed by 19 year old Nicholas Cruz. Following the shooting, students from Parkland took their grief and turned it into a way of speaking out. Going off of a #neveragain, students became vocal in the media and called for change. They organized the march for our lives, which took place on March 24, as well as the nation wide school walkouts.
The school walkouts took place a month after the original day of the shooting. Walkouts differed in how they took place: some were just 17 minutes of silence to remember the 17 students who lost their lives, while some were more active protests. The goals of these walkouts were to honor the students who died while challenging legislatures to enact reforms. At Salesianum, there was a walkout. However, the Salesianum walkout was not as “gun control” oriented as other walkouts. Students were encouraged to stand by the flag pole during a brief pray service where the names of the 17 children who died were read out loud and candles were lit in their honor. After school, there was an open forum for a conversation centered around possible solutions to gun violence and how to make our community safer.
In response to demands, a school safety bill passed in the house with an overwhelming majority and is expected to pass the Senate as well. The bill provides funding toward straining for school officials and local law enforcement, as well as money for the development of reporting systems for threats and systems like locks and metal detectors. The bill has wide support but many of the people in the never again movement do not think that it is enough. In addition, in Florida, there was a bill proposed by governor Rick Scott. The law would raise the age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21, require a three day waiting period for purchases, ban bump stocks, and ban those deemed “mentally defective” from owning a firearm. The bill led to the National Rifle Associating (NRA) suing Florida, arguing the bill was unconstitutional. The NRA is the major interest group leading the fight against most gun control measures. They oppose measures such as an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, banning bump stocks, raising the purchasing age, and more. Instead, they favor ideas like arming teachers and having increased armed security.
This fight will not go away. These students have started a movement that has a lot of support. With the NRA also having support, the two will continue to collide, attempting to influence lawmakers. Although this issue is polarizing, it highly agreed upon that there is a problem. Through thoughtful discussions like the ones held at the student forum, hopefully this new generation can come together with bipartisan solutions that will help end gun violence.