The Lance

Protecting the American people — What we need to do next

The+Las+Vegas+shooting%2C+New+York+truck+attack+and+Parkland+shooting+are+all+remembered+by+memorials.
The Las Vegas shooting, New York truck attack and Parkland shooting are all remembered by memorials.

The Las Vegas shooting, New York truck attack and Parkland shooting are all remembered by memorials.

graphic by Bridget Murphy

graphic by Bridget Murphy

The Las Vegas shooting, New York truck attack and Parkland shooting are all remembered by memorials.

by Bridget Murphy, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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The short URL of the present article is: https://lhslance.org/nox9y

I should feel safe when I walk into school, the place where I go to learn and grow.

I should feel safe when I go to see a movie premiere with my family or to see a concert with my friends.

I should feel safe when I go to church on Sundays with my grandmother and mother.

I should feel safe when I take a trip to NYC and walk down Broadway.

I should feel safe in my own home.

Each of these places has been a target of violence: schools, movie theaters, concert venues, the streets of New York and people’s homes. No place is truly safe. There is nothing but uncertainty — this is not only because of guns, bombs or terrorism but also because of the people who have access to and are involved with them.

While it may not be as easy to control who is involved in terrorism or the making of bombs, there are measures that we can and need to do to control those who can acquire guns.

These attacks are caused by criminals who use and create weapons of mass destruction. A bombing is the fault of a terrorist just as a DUI accident is the fault of the driver. A car driving into a crowd of people is the fault of the driver and a shooting is the fault of the shooter.

Let’s talk about the 2nd Amendment — we can all agree that guns do have a place in our society, and we cannot change that. However, we can change the way we distribute guns and who we distribute guns to.

On Twitter, I saw a sign that someone made for the March for Our Lives. It said, “There is no such thing as a good guy with a gun.” I do not agree with this statement because police officers and gun owners have stopped shootings and other attacks many times, with legal weapons of their own. I think we can all agree that we need to preserve life and protect each other, and I want people who are authorized to carry guns to be able to protect my classmates and me. 

The recent tragedy at Great Mills High School in Maryland was started by a 17 year old boy with a gun — and was ended by a Deputy First Class police officer with a gun.  The boy may have killed more than one person if that officer didn’t have a gun to respond. This is one of many examples of a good guy with a gun saving lives. Another example is the shooting at the Sutherland Springs, Texas church. A local gun owner stopped the shooter outside the church and followed him in a high speed chase. Guns can protect people or guns can hurt people: we need to make sure that they are only put in the right hands.

History has shown that making something illegal only increases the lust for the item. Prohibition is a prime example. It would be no different with the outlawing of guns. The crime rate would go up as people make secret gun sales, and there would still be guns getting into the wrong hands.

No place is truly safe. There is nothing but uncertainty -- this is not only because of guns, bombs or terrorism but also because of the people who have access to and are involved with them. Click To Tweet

We will never be a country of no violence because criminals will do whatever they can to get what they ‘need’. We can only move forward and keep pushing our efforts to decrease the number of attacks that occur.

Here is what I believe will help:

  • Extra security: Ex-military and ex-police force hired in schools

Every public school in Frederick County is assigned a SRO (police officer who keeps the school safe). My brother goes to St. John’s Catholic Prep, and, because it is a private school and not paid for by taxes, there is no SRO or police officer protecting them. The New Jersey School Board Association reported that, “Several school districts have employed retired police officers as part of their security detail. Private security guards are another, potentially low-cost, option for schools.” Although the federal taxes do not cover protection for private schools, there are low-cost options available for school offices. The safety of students should be their top priority. Not only public schools are at risk. An extra presence of security in schools will lower the chance of a shooting and reduce criminal activity on campus.

  • Ban bump stocks

Bump stocks were originally regulated under the 1934 National Firearms Act, but that was 83 years ago. Bump stocks are devices that can be added to a gun to mimic the firing of an automatic weapon. President Trump has vowed to ban bump stocks, but some legislators are saying the issue demands action from Congress. The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history was on October 1, 2017, at a Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas, Nevada. During this attack 59 people were killed and over 520 were injured. The shooter was able to harm this many people in a matter of minutes because he modified his weapons with these bump stock accessories. There is no reason that we need to allow citizens to have access to a weapon that fires about 600 rounds per minute. 

  • Thorough background checks

As part of the appropriations legislation,  President Trump on March 23, 2018, approved the Fix Nics 2017 Act. Basically, this law penalizes government agencies that do not report information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Although this law may help law enforcement realize who is a potential threat, it is still not controlling the people from getting weapons. There needs to be a background check — to ensure mental stability, no past criminal records or reports and good reason to own a weapon — that must be passed before the gun purchase is completed. There have been at least three cases of mass shootings that could have been prevented if there had been more thorough background checks.

One of the most recent examples is the Parkland, Florida shooting, where 19-year-old Nicholas Cruz killed 17 people. There was a tip previously given to the FBI that he was going to shoot up the school and there were multiple calls to the police. This boy should not have been able to obtain a gun. If there had been even the slightest look into his records, there would have been many alarms going off. This can and must be prevented.

  • Ban high-capacity magazines

In 1994, the Federal Assault Weapons ban was put in place. The Washington Post reported that, “the number of gun massacres during the ban period fell by 37 percent, and the number of people dying from gun massacres fell by 43 percent.” The ban was to end sales of semi-automatic weapons and sales of large-capacity magazines that could hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The ban ended in 2004 and the numbers of massacres and deaths has increased again. I am not saying that semi-automatic weapons should be banned again, but I am saying that high-capacity magazines should be. High-capacity magazines are what was used in the Las Vegas shooting, Texas church shooting and the Orlando night club shooting. They allow for over 10 rounds of ammunition to be fired constantly in a very short period of time. This is unacceptable. The number of lives that can be taken or people injured with this type of rapid fire is astonishing. There is no need for this amount of ammunition in any circumstance outside of military purpose.

We have to push to keep the American people safe. We need to push in our communities, in Congress and in the White House. We may not be able to stop every attack against us, but we can limit them.

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Protecting the American people — What we need to do next