Editorial: ​​Schools are battlegrounds while politicians argue over middle grounds


Courtesy of Chip Vincent on Unsplash

Gun violence and mass shootings walk hand in hand, and the want to increase gun control laws has been at the forefront of anti-gun violence movements. 

Content Warning: This article contains information about gun violence in schools. Sensitive content may follow. 

On a typical morning before school, children eat breakfast with their parents, hop on the bus with their friends and drop off at school. Their parents send off their children with a hug and kiss goodbye — often with a “see you after school!” 

No one expects it to be a final goodbye — especially the families whose children went to Robb Elementary School. 

In Uvalde, Texas,​ 19 children and two staff members never came back from school Tuesday — the deadliest massacre in nearly a decade. Families stood at the civic center, waiting to be reunited with their loved ones. 

Unfortunately, our lives and our children’s lives seem to remain the price to pay for our Constitutional right to bear arms. 

As people around the country and our local community search for answers after another tragedy, one thing remains clear: yet another preventable incident of mass violence may not change much. Our children, friends, cousins, nieces and nephews now live in an era where the highest fatality rate for their age group is due to gun-related violence. 

A popular narrative among gun advocates is that mass shootings are not an issue of gun control but mental illness among those who seek to perpetrate violence with guns. What strikes this narrative down is that every country on this earth has those who suffer from mental illnesses; what sets this country apart from the latter is that only the United States of America has abnormally high levels of mass gun violence. 

Even now, U.S. gun production rose from 3.9 million in 2000 to 11.3 million in 2020, according to the New York Times. Currently, there are around 400 million guns in the United States, according to a 2018 survey conducted by the nonpartisan Small Arms Survey, which monitors gun ownership.

Schools tightened their security in response to the rising epidemic of gun violence — often integrating drills in case a gunman shows up. Since the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, nationally, 19 percent of elementary school students, 45 percent of middle schoolers and 67 percent of high school students attend a school with a campus police officer, according to a 2018 report from the Urban Institute.

“These security measures are not effective,” Jagdish Khubchandani said in the New York Times. “And they are not catching up to the ease of access with which people are acquiring guns in the pandemic.”

Khubchandani, a professor of public health at New Mexico State University, co-wrote a study analyzing the effectiveness of the tightened security measures practiced by schools. Over the years, school shootings have only gotten worse, even when armed school officers were present. 

Schools have done their part to keep their students safe, and the legislature needs to step in. 

Little has been done on the legislative side to limit access to guns — some states have done the opposite. This includes Iowa, as the legislature allowed a person to purchase or carry a concealed firearm in public spaces without a permit last year. Despite evidence of an epidemic among our educational institutions, many members of the government continue to vouch for second amendment rights and the loosening of current restrictions in many states.

Responding and adapting to prevent further tragedies seems like the obvious thing to do, though many insist that one sentence in the Bill of Rights written in 1791 should still govern how we regulate weapons of war in this country. Like most items and objects, guns have come a long way since they were first accounted for as a right. The typical revolutionary-era musket was a single fire round with a maximum accuracy range of 50 meters.

Nowadays, you can walk into a gun shop and purchase an AR-15, with an effective rate of fire of 45 rounds per minute and an accurate range of up to 550 meters, a weapon seen in active military conflicts and war zones.

Many countries around the world have responded to their own tragedies with similar weapons, with real and effective change. For example, take the United Kingdom: After a gunman killed 16 people in 1987, the country banned semi-automatic weapons like the one used in the massacre. After a 1996 school shooting, the country did the same with handguns. 

The United Kingdom now has one of the lowest gun-related death rates in the developed world, according to the New York Times.

Our constitutional right to bear arms has again cost us the lives of our children, but why is action yet so difficult? 

Let’s explore one of the most drastic changes our country and the world have ever seen: Airline security post-September 11. After the terror attacks that day, measures were formed to ensure airlines could never again fall victim to senseless violence.

The average American gave up their privacy rights and time convenience to ensure that lives would no longer be changed due to intentional aviation disasters. 

In every new situation or threat that arises related to air traffic, new policies and restrictions are created to ensure that air travel is as safe and comforting as possible.

Why can we not provide this same feeling of safety and comfort for our children at school? Why can we not change?

Tragedy has struck again and again, yet one thing remains.

Our intolerance to change.