Increasing school security in wake of shootings

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According to an analysis
from the Washington
Post, more than 150,000
high school, college, and
elementary students have
experienced a school shooting
in America since Columbine
in 1999. That’s 188 shootings,
taking place at a rate of about
1 per month. Furthermore, 7
school shootings have taken
place since the beginning of
2018, the most recent being
the shooting at Marjory
Stoneman Douglas High
School in Parktown, Florida,
that lead to the loss of 17
students.
These events have invoked
the need for action within
our school’s administration.
As a safety precaution, they
are ensuring that there is a
security officer in the front
office at all times and have also
made it easier for the officers
and other administration to
access the security cameras.
Security officers are are now
staying later after hours than
they used to as an additional
safeguard.
Principal Colleen Weiner
said, “Everyone being vigilant
is what it’s going to take.
There are so many students
and so many faculty members
that we need to help each
other.”
On Friday, February 16,
two days after the Florida
shooting, Ms. Weiner made
an announcement over the
loudspeaker about this. This
announcement was intended
to make sure that all the
students in the school knew
that no-one is to let anyone
through any door but the main
office, and to say something if
they see something suspicious.
Students in our school
seem to be in support of
this heightened watchfulness.
Students want to feel safe
and comfortable coming to
school and learning. Senior
Furkan Ince said, “I’m more
concerned about my safety, if
that’s what [we] have to do to
insure that, then I’m totally
fine with that.”
Kelsey Culup, a senior, said,
“I think that it’s necessary …
you can’t just let anyone into
the building without knowing
who they are. Even with the
Florida shooting, that kid was
a student there, so nobody knew
that he wasn’t allowed in the
school.”
In light of the traumatizing
shooting at their school, the
students of Marjory Stoneman
Douglas High School banded
together and stood up for student
safety, in particular, gun control
and reform. On February 21, a
group of bereaved friends and
parents from Stoneman Douglas
High met with President Donald
Trump to talk about legal action
that can be taken to assure that a
school shooting doesn’t happen
again. One parent said in a plea
to our President, “It’s not left or
right. It’s not political. People
are dying. And we have to stop
this. If [the shooter was] not old
enough to buy a drink, to buy a
beer, he should not be able to
buy a gun at 18 years old. That’s
just common sense. We have to
do common sense. Please, Mr.
Trump. These are things we
have to do.”
That same day, CNN hosted
a town hall meeting 10 miles
outside of Parkland as an
opportunity for students and
community members to discuss
with state officials, Marco Rubio,
Bill Nelson, and Ted Deutch on
issues relating to student safety
and gun violence. The students
and parents faced with this
tragedy questioned them and
demanded answers from their
representatives. One parent,
whose daughter was murdered
in the shooting addressed Rubio
saying, “Look at me and tell
me guns were the factor in the
hunting of our kids in the school
this week.” Rubio responded
by saying that gun laws alone
will not fix the issue. He said
that he supports raising the age
requirement for rifles and will be
open to reconsider the size of
gun magazines.
A survivor, Cameron Kasky
asked Rubio to promise he
would not accept any more
contributions to his political
campaigns from the National
Rifle Association. Rubio replied
by saying that he supports the
second amendment, the right to
bear arms, and would support
any law that would help protect
students. Rubio would not say
he would turn down money
from the NRA.
Students also had questions
for the two other representatives
who both agreed that we should
restrict access to Assault Rifles.
Representative Deutch said
in response to a concern by
a student wishing to feel safe
when he returns to school, that
“The best way for us to [make
sure you’re safe] is to take action
in Washington, in Tallahassee, to
get these weapons of war off of
our streets.”
Later in the session, the
host, Jake Tapper, invited on a
local Sheriff, Scott Israel and a
spokesperson for the NRA, Dana
Loesch to discuss gun violence
prevention. One outspoken
student, Laura Gonzalez, asked
Loesch if semi-automatic
weapons should be harder to
obtain and bump stocks should
be illegal. These are devices
that turns semi-automatic rifles
into fully automatic weapons
that fire almost continuously.
Loesch went on to criticize law
enforcement and precautions
taken with the mentally ill
but never fully answered the
question.
Many students around the
country are concerned about
gun safety in schools and have
been inspired by these Florida
students to speak up. Students
have been planning events to take
place across the country and in our
nation’s capital to call attention to
the issue. “March For Our Lives”,
a rally against mass shootings and
gun violence, is to take place on
March 24 throughout major U.S.
cities. Organized by students of
Douglas High, they have filed
an application with the National
Park Service and are looking to
determine a location for the event.
In addition to this, a National
School Walkout has been
planned by the Women’s March
Youth Empower group to take
place on March 14. Students
and teachers are invited to walk
out for 17 minutes – for the 17
victims – at 10:00 a.m., to show
solidarity with those affected by
the recent shooting and express
their commitment to keeping our
schools safe. A similar event has
been proposed by Connecticut
student Lane Murdock and
others, who are petitioning for
a high school walkout on April
20th, which will be the 19th
anniversary of the Columbine
shooting. These events present
the opportunity to give a voice
to the many students who feel
strongly about the issue of mass
shootings and gun violence within
America’s schools. The negative
stereotypes that surround today’s
teens often minimize the value
of their opinions on important
issues. The issue of gun violence
in schools affects teens directly,
and a movement like this helps to
demonstrate that student’s voices
are valued in serious conversations
that involve their own wellbeing.
These recent tragedies have
ramped up the conversation on
issues of gun control and safety
in our schools. Middletown
High, with the support of its
students, has used these events
to further improve security and
our wellbeing. Thanks to the
students in Parktown, Florida and
all around the country who are
stepping up and taking initiative,
students can begin to effect real
change.
While there has not been
specific plans put in effect,
representatives from Student
Council have said that they plan
to take action on the day of the
national walk-out.

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