Incident reflects need for U.S. gun control


As students in the American school system, we are not unfamiliar with the concept of school shootings, but Diamond Bar High School students encountered this reality, or at least the rumor of it, face to face last Friday.

If you were at the Branding Iron game, in that moment, you may have thought about all of your future goals and dreams, how they could be taken away in a split second. You may have thought about a loved one, maybe a friend sitting next to you, and about how you wouldn’t be able to live without them. When I heard about the threat while eating with some friends, the first worry that ran through my mind was, “My sister is going to die.”

Current DBHS students were born after the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, so we’ve grown up knowing that there is always a possibility of the unthinkable happening. The fact that we have lived through so many of these shootings only made the supposed threat feel all the more real. The knowledge of this possibility and the constant unease that results from it points to a major flaw in the American political system.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 225 mass shootings in 2018 alone. Of these include the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the Santa Fe High School shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, both of which involved the slaughter of innocent teenagers expecting to have a typical day at school.

With statistics and stories like these, it’s no wonder that the first instinct of many students at the Branding Iron game was panic and fear. Apprehension regarding gun violence is something that students in the American school system have been conditioned to feel. It’s heartbreaking to think that we have lived through so many mass shooting that the fear of becoming the next victims is always in the back of our minds.

All students have the right to feel safe in an environment that is supposed to protect them, foster growth and help them learn. Everyone should be fighting to make schools safer, regardless of their political party.

This is not a matter of Democrat versus Republican; this is a matter of right versus wrong. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 26,000 people under the age of 18 were killed by gun violence from 1999 to 2016. These were young people who had their whole lives ahead of them, who could have been the next president or the doctor to cure cancer. The fact that these lives ended unnecessarily and tragically is not something that anyone should tolerate.  

Many people argue that the Second Amendment protects gun ownership and regulating guns is an infringement on personal rights. Maybe when they become that person who has to hide in the bathroom because of an active shooter, or their kids are the ones who have to attend funerals for their friends after another school shooting, they’ll finally understand that something needs to change.

This fear that we have become so accustomed to living with is exclusively an American experience. In Japan, anyone who wants to own a gun must fulfill an extensive list of requirements, including taking an all-day class, a written test and a mental health evaluation. As a result, Japan rarely has more than 10 gun deaths a year, according to The Independent, a British newspaper.

In the United Kingdom, handguns and semiautomatic weapons were completely banned, and the government participated in a buyback program where it bought back 162,000 guns from its people. The country now has a gun-related homicide rate 160 times lower than that of the U.S.

It’s about time the U.S. follows suit and does something to strengthen gun control legislation. Immediately after the incidents in Parkland and Santa Fe, the gun control debate was the focus of the media. The attention it received has since died down, even though so little has been done to prevent future incidents.

An issue that poses such a threat to the safety of our society should not be taking a backseat. Americans can’t keep sitting around for another shooting to occur before we discuss the issue of gun control.

There are actions that students can take to fight for their safety. They can register or pre-register to vote, and elect officials who will be the most active in making significant change. They can contact politicians who take money from the gun lobby and voice their disapproval. They can simply become more educated and aware of the effects of gun violence in the United States, and be proactive in educating others.

As we reflect on everything that happened this past Friday, hopefully we will all take this opportunity to show more appreciation for the people in our lives, sympathize more with those who have been victims of school shootings, and be a student body who advocates for change.


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Panic at Branding Iron