Gun violence discussions front and center in Central Pa. | #schoolsaftey

ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. — It’s the same topic every time America suffers a major mass shooting. How do we deal with it?

“It’s very discouraging for a lot of people,” Elizabethtown College senior Alexia Tsamoutalidis said. “I feel like we continue to keep waking up to this”

The College welcomed David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, to campus to discuss the impacts of gun violence.

Students, like Alexia and Michelle Kanode, were in the audience. They don’t know a world post-Columbine.

“I think more guns isn’t the solution, but regulating who has access to these guns [is,]” Kanode, a junior at Elizabethtown College, said.

They joined hundreds on their campus to hear Hogg share his experience of surviving a school shooting and advocating for change. He met with the media earlier in the afternoon to discuss America’s gun violence epidemic.

“People that threaten to shoot up a high school should not be able to be legally armed with a gun like the AR-15,” Hogg said. “This is not left versus right. This is common sense versus anarchy.”

He says addressing a separate American crisis is an essential part of that process.

“We can’t just talk about how somebody gets a gun, we need to talk about why do people want to kill other people in the first place,” Hogg said. “We need to address the fact that our mental health system in this country is broken.”

Gun Owners of America spokesperson Luis Valdes shares that same concern.

“It comes down to we need to have a discussion on mental health, we need to have that discussion to fund mental health treatment,” Valdes said. “We need to stop ostracizing and stigmatizing people that seek treatment.”

However, Valdes believes things like red flag laws or stronger background checks – won’t stop criminals from breaking the law.

“Criminals break the law. No criminal is going to worry about whether they pass or fail a background check. If they want to commit a crime, they’ll steal a gun,” he said. “This is a multifaceted problem. It requires a multifaceted solution. But gun control isn’t part of it.”

Alexia and Michelle say both issues make the situation more dire.

“Guns are the leading cause and death of people zero to 19, and a lot of that is suicide,” Kanode said. “It’s not just these shootings that are unfortunately happening all the time. It’s the access that young people are having to guns, which is a problem.”

Data from the CDC shows that in the last three years, firearms have been the number one cause of death in children in the U.S.


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