On February 14th, 2018 a gunman massacred 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. What followed this tragic incident was the beginning of a national debate we have frequently in the United States: what do we do about guns in our society?
The shooting, in addition to sparking nationwide debate on firearms, also inspired local action. On April 20th, 2018, several hundred Davis High Students walked out of class to meet with Davis Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) and express their concerns about their safety to him. Eleanor Richter, a former Senior at Davis Senior High School read the names of the students slain in Parkland and added “that could’ve very well been us”
Though the fears held by High School students are legitimate, author and Harvard professor David Ropeik writes in the New York Times that: “the statistical likelihood of any given public school student being killed by a gun, in school, on any given day since 1999 was roughly 1 in 614,000,000. And since the 1990s, shootings at schools have been getting less common.”
Though school shootings and violence generally are becoming rarer, many still want change, Including progressive Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who said in an Interview with NBC news on February 18th, 2018 that “I believe that we should not be selling assault weapons in this country. These weapons [AR-15’s] are not for hunting, they are for killing human beings.” Despite attacks on AR-15’s specifically, they account for relatively few murders nationwide. A study by the National Shooting Sports foundation and the FBI found that despite AR-15 sales soaring in 2012, murder by rifle accounted for only 374/10,303 or 0.036% of all gun deaths in 2016.
However, this isn’t to say that Congress is at a dead stop. Laws and regulations are being worked on in order to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. President Donald Trump on October 1st, 2018, said that his administration is in the ‘final stages’ of a nationwide ban on ‘bump stocks’ the tool used by the Las Vegas shooter to mimic full automatic firing. “We’re knocking out bump stocks,” Trump told reporters at a press conference “I have told the N.R.A — bump stocks are gone”. In addition, conservative activist and shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv has been quietly working with Senate Republicans to pass safety measures. Meekly and quietly, Kashuv has represented a rebuke to his fellow survivors, mostly advocates of gun control. Despite being in the minority, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have secured funding on a “Stop School Violence Act’, and have managed to have their bill passed in the house, awaiting a vote in the Senate. However, It remains to be seen if the Senators and the President can get their policy proposals fully implemented. Just this April, Kashuv flew out to Nebraska to escort a high school senior to her prom after she had discovered Kashuv when he rose to prominence. In the debate about gun violence It is easy to dehumanize the opposition, however moments like these help to remind us of just how human we really are.