Gun Control: We’re Going to Need More Than That

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Published December 4, 2019
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The Montclarion
Joy Velasco | The Montclarion

This summer, we experienced one mass shooting after another. Things were quiet for a few months until another mass shooting occurred just two weeks ago when a 16-year-old gunman in Santa Clarita, California shot five classmates and then himself.

Mass shootings and school shootings are a multi-headed problem. It isn’t as simple as just changing regulations.

The first step for gun control would be to advocate for tighter regulations on buying, selling and carrying firearms across the United States. The second step would be to offer students better mental health services in schools across all states.

The Montclarion conducted a survey on gun control among Montclair State University students. Out of 12 participants, seven said there needed to be stricter gun laws. The other five did not. Eleven students felt that schools should implement more mental health services. One did not.

Over the summer, I went to a flea market in Virginia. There were tables of marbles, toys, clothes, antiques and guns. I counted four tables of guns and knives.

I was asked if I wanted to buy a gun as if it were a piece of candy. Purchase with cash, no permit needed. Someone with ill intentions could have easily bought the gun and brought it back in a suitcase. The sheer ease of obtaining a gun is frightening.

According to the Gun Violence Archive 2019, the total number of gun related deaths this year was 35,946. Out of children ages 0-11, 192 were killed and 436 of them were injured because of guns. There were also 704 teenagers from ages 12-17 killed and 2,101 teens were left injured.

These numbers are incredibly high, especially in teens. In a TEDx talk by Aaron Stark, he admitted to the audience, “I was almost a school shooter.”

In his talk, he explains how he had no stability in his life, constantly moving and living in an abusive household.

Stark began to harm himself and then once he felt completely worthless he decided he would shoot either his school or a mall food court. In Stark’s story, getting a gun was quite easy for him and he obtained it from a neighborhood gang.

Stark changed his mind when his only friend showed him acts of kindness, treating him like a human being.

I don’t want teachers to call out students who they think are a potential threat, that would only make matters worse. Instead, they should pay attention to the moods and behaviors of all students.

One of the deadliest school shootings that took place was the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Scarlett Lewis, founder of the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, lost her son that day.

I met Lewis when covering a small talk she gave three years ago. She recounted the events leading up to her son’s death and even described the life of 20-year-old Adam Lanza, the shooter from that day. It was astounding that even she could show any amount of sympathy for the man who took her son’s life.

Lanza suffered from depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

A report from the Office of the Child Advocate in November 2014 stated that Lanza’s mental health problems, in combination with easy access to deadly weapons, “proved a recipe for mass murder.”

This is just one of many incidents involving mental health and a mass shooting. There is an undeniable connection, especially in adolescents.

On Lewis’ foundation’s web page it states, “Our mission is to teach kids that they have control over their thoughts and put them to work for them.”

It isn’t as simple as “thinking good thoughts,” but teaching children to let their emotions out in a healthier way is a good start. Therapy or finding creative outlets like writing can improve the overall mental health of students.

Students need more than just homework and tests. They need emotional support from parents, teachers and even their peers. They need to know they have options, and the ease of obtaining a gun needs to end.

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