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Opinion: After Parkland School Shooting, How Safe Are Teens in Our Own Classrooms?

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This week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, is making America ask the question it never wants to answer: “Do guns need more regulation?”

It’s a question a lot of Americans seem to ask more and more. But my question is: How many more kids have to be shot dead until enough is enough? It’s scary that the American classroom, a place where some students feel most comfortable, can’t even feel safe. The American classroom is a place where best friends discuss their problems with each other; it’s a place where students develop relationships with each other and a place where students can be themselves. Parents and students should not have to ask themselves whether it’s safe to go to school.

So, what’s the real problem here? The real problem is guns. Guns kill. It cannot get any simpler than that. The more guns there are in America, the more deaths there will be. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 60 percent of every 100,000 homicides are committed with the use of guns. On top of that, America has the highest gun owner ratio (89 per 100 people) in the world, according to CNN.

It is so easy for Americans to get access to firearms. According to the New York Times, it is easier to purchase an AR-15, similar to the semi-automatic gun that was purchased by the shooter in Parkland, than a handgun in the state of Florida. In Florida, you do not need a fingerprint check and you don’t need a special permit to carry a gun, and there is no limit to the number of guns you can purchase.

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And it’s not just Florida. According to Business Insider, you can buy a semi-automatic gun within 15 minutes in Virginia. Another question I have for gun owners is why are semi-automatic weapons so necessary to own?

A large portion of students at my school believe that guns are a part of America. When I talked to my lunchmates about the recent shooting in Florida, they told me guns protect people. What do they protect people from, though? They usually protect people from others guns. The real solution is to regulate guns more so school shooters and murderers can’t get access to firearms.

Another defense that supporters of guns use is that people will find ways to get them. They’ll find a way to get them illegally, and doing something about them is only a waste of time and money. This is perhaps the worst argument I’ve heard yet. Do you have so little hope in this country, you think every person who cannot get a gun will just illegally get one? The people who defend guns usually strongly support law enforcement. How can you have so much faith in law enforcement, but then all of that belief is gone once the law being enforced affects you? This is hypocrisy at its finest.

But ignorant supporters of guns isn’t America’s biggest problem. The biggest problem stopping any helpful legislation that might prevent gun violence is the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA has so much power over congressmen and women, and even the president. The NRA funds like crazy, too. According to a New York Times opinion piece, Sen. Joni Ernst from Iowa has received more than $3 million from the NRA. Imagine how much power $3 million could get you. According to Ernst, the cause of the recent shooting in Florida is mental illness. She said better mental healthcare could’ve prevented the shooting.

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Although mental healthcare is a problem in America, guns are an even bigger threat. A $3 million campaign donation can make someone a puppet. It does not make sense that a man like the alleged shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz can still purchase a gun. Some of his neighbors told reporters the police were called to his family’s residence more than 30 times. How many times do the police need to be notified for someone to not have eligibility to purchase a gun? If we, the American people continue to let the NRA influence the politicians we vote for, better gun control will never come.

America has a serious problem that is spreading like a plague. It’s guns. Guns kill people, and they affect their loved ones’ lives. I’m not saying guns should be illegal. Guns are just as constitutional as the freedom of the press, but it is important they are regulated and used in the right way. How many more dead children will it take until something is done? Guns are dangerous, and they have to be in the right hands or else we will keep seeing more of these.

America is changing and there is a strong divide on gun regulation in America. The Parkland shooting tells us that unless America changes its current gun regulation, these mass murders can keep happening to any school. It’s a scary but a true reality that we all have to face.

Terell WrightTerell is a 15-year old freshman at Walnut Grove High School. He is a teen staffer at VOX Teen Communications and student columnist for the Walton Tribune.

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