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Issues of school gun violence | #schoolsaftey

Imagine you are a student back in high school. You walk into school nervous about a big chemistry test you studied for. You walk to your chemistry class and hear the bell ring. You start taking the test when the intercommunication pops up saying Lockdown. You immediately think, “They didn’t say it was a drill.”

You grab your keys and your cell phone just in case.

Time stretched and your mind wandered to the thought in the back of your mind, “What if it is a shooting? Is today the day?”

Ear-ringing gunshots sound and screams fill the room.

Your teacher and peers jump up and start barricading the door with desks and cabinets. You close your eyes, as more shots sound.

Who could do something like this?

After the terrifying day, you get home and turn on the news. Your school is the new story. They reported that four students had died and seven additional students were wounded. The attacker was a 17-year-old senior who stole his father’s gun because it wasn’t locked up in the safe. The senior had posted comments that he would create a shooting. Still, everyone ignored him because they believed he was just joking and he could never be involved.

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In February 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Cruz had been a former student at the high school but was expelled for disciplinary issues, causing him to enroll in another school within the district. Cruz had bought a gun from a local gun dealer claiming that Cruz was going to use the gun to go shooting with some of his buddies but ended up killing 17 and wounding 14 individuals at the shooting.

He made several comments on YouTube, stating, ”I’m going to be a professional school shooter.” This statement alerted the FBI to be on watch.

Shooters are mentally unstable when they create a mass shooting and publicly show parts of their plans, Cruz is no exception. Cruz had lost his mother months before the attack, causing his mental health to decline and many of Cruz’s classmates made statements that claimed there was something off about their interactions with him and were not surprised when the shooting occurred. With all the signs of Cruz’s mental health and social media interaction, why didn’t people reach out to the police or Cruz himself?

According to the National Institute of Justice, “80% of individuals who carried out a K-12 mass shooting stole the firearm used in the shooting from a family member.” This statistic brings the question: Why isn’t their more practice of secure firearm storage within family homes? With so much careless access to guns within homes, students attending school have the constant thought in the back of their heads that today might be the day a school shooting will happen. Gun violence occurs every day and is happening more and more within schools.

School gun violence is destructive to students, teachers, staff, and families involved, however, it can be prevented. If families are not practicing secure firearm storage by locking and securing unloaded firearms separate from ammunition, this act sets up a child to become a school gun shooter. School gun violence has become a major issue in the United States as the years pass, even when it is prevented easily by using secure firearm storage where only the adults know the location and notice the signs of a potential shooter. In most school shootings, an individual knew of the attacker’s plans and failed to report them. Most attackers will show signs through shared threatening or concerning messages or images through the internet or with classmates. People must know these signs to report and prevent the traumatic event of a shooting.

This issue of ending or preventing school gun violence is no small task. Even so, raising awareness to even the smallest group can make a difference. This issue is important to me, as a high school student because of the desire to attend school without the fear of an appalling day constantly nagging at the back of my mind. I believe that everyone needs to be aware of this issue and if this information makes a difference to just one person the outcome might save a life.

Paighton Christensen is currently a Junior at Rock Springs High School. She has lived in Wyoming for nearly 11 years. She lives in Rock Springs with her family.

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