By Journalism 1 Staff Writers
The February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School this year left 17 dead. Newly revived contention over guns and school safety sparked protests and school walkouts across the country on March 14. During the week of March 12 to 16, the Smoke Signal gathered MSJ perspectives on the issues.
Do you think teachers should be armed with guns to protect their students? Why or why not?
“No, the answer to stopping gun violence is not bringing even more guns into the school. Instead of making the students feel safer, this does the opposite. First of all, we don’t have enough money or time to arm and train all the teachers in schools. That was not part of their job descriptions. There is a very real risk that students can be injured or harmed by a teacher’s bullet during an active-shooter situation.” — Vigasini Rajaram, 9
“The thought of teachers being armed with guns is ridiculous. Having a loaded gun in every classroom in a school full of kids only present more problems. Not only that, if we resolve to arming teachers, we are fighting the issue, guns, with more guns. It’s just overall not the correct solution. In addition teachers signed up for their jobs to teach, not to be soldiers or someone that has to use a gun in their position. Quite frankly, arming inexperienced people with lack of hand eye coordination surrounded by mass panic will only result in more casualties.” —Flora Chang, 11
“I believe that teachers should only be armed with guns if they have the proper training, such as the new Florida law that allows teachers to own guns only after 144 hours of training.” — Sulaiman Ahmed, 11
“I think certain teachers can be armed with guns but not without going through extensive background checks and training in owning one. With the unfortunate events occurring at an alarming rate today, arming teachers and officers on campus might be imperative in assuring the safety of our school. I recently read in an article that school shootings were stopped sooner on campuses where there were armed officers and if this is true, it may be a somewhat viable solution.” — Shruti Janardhanan, 11
“I don’t think teachers should be armed in school because many of them are simply not experienced or comfortable around firearms for them to be effective during a shooting. Furthermore, firearms training for teachers can be time and capital-intensive, and I don’t think we as a country are in a position to spend that money after Secretary DeVos’s latest education budget cuts.” — Arunav Gupta, 11
“No, definitely not. Even if teachers were trained, I would not be comfortable if any of my teachers kept a gun on them at school. When in a rush and in a high-tension situation, people tend to have bad aim, and so many more innocent people could be accidentally injured. Many people forget that bullets often go through their targets, so firing at a shooter is likely to end with someone behind the perpetrator getting hit. Even those in the next classroom can be easily shot through the wall.” — Alex Spencer, 12
“No, for two reasons: first, too many more guns. We don’t want more guns, we want less. And, I don’t trust [that] teachers could be safe with them. I know cops that don’t shoot that well, and certainly, I don’t trust us. And just having more guns around that kids could get at is a bad idea. So many reasons.” — Government Teacher Jaime Richards
Do you feel like gun violence is a leading threat to school safety? Why or why not?
“I don’t think that gun violence is too big a threat to school safety. Even though gun violence and shooting in schools dominate the headlines, I as a student know that there other issues that are often overlooked by people when they look at school. It’s the mental health and overall atmosphere of a school that I feel is the most important issue; many school shooters feels the school, faculty, or students have done them wrong in some way. Solving this and making schools a better place is most important.” — Ian Park, 9
“I feel gun violence is a leading threat to school safety. The fact that it is only March and there have already been 14 school shootings in the US this year (averaging 1.5 a week) shows that it is a huge issue. Horrifying school shootings like Parkland, Columbine, and Sandy Hook show that it is an ever-present problem and it can lead to so much pain and suffering.” — Tavish Mohanti, 9
“I do think that gun violence is a major issue concerning school safety. Guns are weapons, made to injure or kill. They may be necessary in the battlefield and such places, but the it’s too easy to get a semi-automatic weapon. There are so many people who have mental illnesses and so many people who sometimes feel lesser to others. When these kinds of shootings happen, it is a momentary feeling of power for the shooter. But that one moment comes at the cost of so many lives. And while some may say that gun control infringes on the rights granted by the second amendment, this law was created in the 18th century, when the most advanced guns fired one to two rounds per minute. The second amendment was created in the immediate aftermath of the war against the British. It is not a strong argument against gun control, which can protect so many innocent lives.” — Arundhati Calambur, 10
“I do feel like gun violence is a leading threat to school safety in America. It is sad that we have had more school shootings this year than most countries have had in the last decade. A key aspect as to why this is happening in America as opposed to any other country is the lack of legislative action. An attitude often seen in Congress is that after a shooting, it is not the time to talk about guns, but when there are no shootings there is no need for reform. The only way to solve for school safety is with common sense gun regulation, which can’t happen if our government refuses to take action.“ — Sanjay Rangavajjhala, 10
“I think gun violence is a leading threat to school safety because these weapons are capable of killing many people in a short amount of time. If no change is going to be made, the occurrence of school shootings will only increase.” — Claire Zhang, 11
“Whether it’s a leading threat to school safety is not the main point; we still have to deal with it. While gun violence does pose a huge threat in schools, it doesn’t just kill students. Schools shouldn’t be the only reason to start fighting back against gun violence because people are dying elsewhere from guns as well. School threats are only part of the larger epidemic of gun violence.” — English Teacher Brian Rath
Are you confident in our school’s current lockdown procedure? If no, how could it be improved?
“The student body as a whole needs to be more informed of the proper lockdown procedure. For instance, during our most recent lockdown drill, quite a few students did not realize that they should enter the nearest classroom and instead tried to make it to their next class. In a real lockdown, this behavior would have tragic consequences.” — Josephine Chew, 10
“While I am confident in our school’s lockdown procedure, I believe that we do not practice it nearly enough as many students still are lost and behave inappropriately during drills. We need to spread information on the proper behavior to perform during these lockdowns in order to ensure that the student body is well prepared and informed in case our campus does in fact face a threat in the future.” — Sopan Nair, 10
“I don’t think that you can ever truly prepare yourself for a school shooting. No matter how many drills you do, no matter how many times you mentally rehearse and plan, in an actual situation most of it will be forgotten in the hysteria. However, as a school we have a responsibility to increase the chance that people will remember the lockdown drills and be able to execute it. We need to drill the procedure more and be more serious about it. As for ‘run, hide, fight,’ I think it’s the best procedure we can have but there are a lot of grey areas that can be improved on. Increasing familiarity with the procedure would be the most effective way to go about it.” — Flora Chang, 11
“Yes, I believe that our school’s current lockdown procedure is effective. The guidelines are rational considering the open layout of our school. I appreciate the efforts of the administration to have us practice these safety techniques and of the teachers, who always remind us that we—as a last resort—always have the power to fight back.” — Sabrina Shih, 12
“I feel like the students don’t take these drills very seriously. Everyone’s just on their phones and chatting with their friends. Everyone’s coming in late when the teachers are supposed to close the doors for lockdowns. It could be improved by having more frequent unexpected drills and make them more realistic, instead of notifying students ahead of time that there will be a drill.” — Sydney Kao, 12
Graphic by Graphics Editor Evangeline Chang