By: Aaron Carr ‘22
There have been three hundred and seven mass shootings in the United States this year alone. Yes, you read that right, three hundred and seven. With the frequency of these events rising, schools and students across the country now take precautions every day to protect us from these events. After the school shooting this year in Parkland, Florida, a group of seventeen students decided to start an activism tour across the country. The tour is called “March for Our Lives.”
Students across the country are taking part in this movement and in school walkouts to send a message. This is a very controversial topic. Many people want the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the U.S. Government to change our country’s gun policies, and some want the opposite.
Regis Jesuit and its students has taken precautions every year to help keep everyone safe. After hearing about all of these shootings, the thoughts that have crossed my mind were, “How are these student activists truly affecting the discussion? And what are the opinions of my school, and the students of my school? What do schools and students have to do to stay safe and show their opinion?”
Talking to the Head of Security
Mr. Sullivan is the vice president of operations and the head of the security department at Regis Jesuit High School. He coordinates security and gun policies at the school. Mr. Sullivan says, “We spent about four years studying whether we should or should not arm our security guys.”
Regis Jesuit now has armed security guards. Mr. Sullivan says it took lots of time and discussion to decide whether or not they should carry guns, which they do now. For maximum safety, the decision to arm our security officers only happened under certain conditions. Those included such things as people having experience in the security field, and they had to undergo gun safety training. They have an 80-hour training that is specific to carrying a gun, all the safety precautions, and situational uses including judgement calls. There are many precautions and requirements that it takes at Regis for anyone to carry a gun.
Mr. Sullivan and I also talked about the Parkland shooting and his thoughts on the student activists. “I think it’s a good thing, and I also think it’s kind of cool that students are getting active for something they care deeply about, and they want to affect change. Rather than just saying, ‘well it doesn’t affect me, or I can’t change anything.'” Mr. Sullivan says that Regis would never arm teachers or staff. The school implements five to ten new safety precautions every year. “The sense of community and caring for one another and that this is a great place to go to school; that’s our goal.”
Talking to a Friend
Freshman at Regis Jesuit, Zack Newkirk says, “I think that it is important for the second amendment to be in place to protect citizens rights. But I also think that there are certain people who are a risk to society with their gun privileges.”
Zack thinks that gun rights in the United States should stay the same as they are right now. He also says that he would not join a school walkout or protest.
“Because I believe that the second amendment protects citizens of the United States from the very thing that they fled Britain for in the first place.” Zack thinks if an actual school shooting were to happen at Regis Jesuit, then it would be a lot different than the lockdown drills we have.
Talking to my Dad
On the other end of the spectrum, I interviewed a parent of a Regis Jesuit student. Jim Carr says, “I think if I had kids in any school, I would be worried for their safety, because schools seem to be a little bit of a target now. But I do feel like Regis is a safe school and I think Regis is doing as much as they can to keep its students safe.”
Mr. Carr also thinks that the NRA doesn’t have any need to change any policies, however he thinks the government could make changes to what kind of guns are available to the public.
“I don’t think it’s the NRA’s place to do so I think the government could do a better job of regulating what types of weapons are available to the public. It seems like a lot of these types of mass shootings involved highly automatic weapons, that perhaps allow these people to do more damage than they would be able to otherwise. Without that type of weapon.”
Mr. Carr talks about the Parkland school shooting and the student activists’ message. “I think their messages are great. I can’t imagine what those students went through at Parkland and I think they have earned the right to voice their opinion and try to affect change. And I think they’re very brave in doing so.”
Looking at the “March for our Lives” Movement
According to articles from The Rolling Stone Magazine and The New York Times, the students of Parkland are going on a national activism tour called the “March for our Lives.” After the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, seventeen of their students have decided to embark on a movement across the nation to promote change in gun policies.
The magazine quotes the students, “After we had the march, our thought process was, ‘Now that everybody knows what’s going on, how do we actually get them to do something and act on what they now understand and feel?’”
These students are going around the country to convince the people who can vote to change gun policies.
These students have started a movement that thousands of people have backed up. They are all taking part in walkouts to express their desire for a change in gun laws. The movement has also initiated legislative action. In Florida, a state known for its lax gun regulations, Governor Rick Scott signed a $400 million gun control bill that raised the minimum age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21. He also banned bump stocks and imposed a three-day waiting period on gun sales. Florida is also one of the four states to pass a “red flag” law since the February 14th shooting. This law allows law enforcement to temporarily confiscate firearms from people that pose a threat to themselves or others.
The seventeen students strongly express, “We really want to get face-to-face with the people of this country and talk to them about how they can get involved and how they can empower others.” They emphasize that they will be “calling out candidates who are receiving money from the NRA and have regressive views on gun reform.”
These students have already had a major effect on people’s opinions across the world. Over one million people have showed up to their protests and events. “The students aren’t the future, they’re the present… we will always overcome.”
Overall, this topic will be debated for many years to come. Protests, changes in laws and rights are just beginning. The danger of mass shootings is rising every year, requiring more policies and safety precautions to be implemented across the nation; especially in schools. It makes me wonder where this country will be in ten years.
Will our country’s laws and policies change drastically? Will schools start looking like prisons with ten feet guard walls and fully armed guards carrying AK-47’s? With the rate of the new safety precautions every day, and the rate of mass shootings on the rise almost every week, it might not be surprising to see something like that in the future. Just think of how these mass shootings and gun policies change things, that you might not even notice in your life every single day.
My podcast interviewing Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Carr:
Aaron Carr – ‘22