December 14th marked the one year anniversary of the Newtown shootings where the lives of 20 innocent children and six staff members were tragically taken without any apparent cause. This mass shooting prompted the nation to resume talks about gun control and to figure out a solution to protect and appease the masses. In addition to the Newtown shooting we have seen other mass shootings such as the one in Aurora Colorado, the Navy Yard Shooting, the man who shot people at Lost Angeles International Airport, the Miami man who shot his neighbors in his apartment complex, and more recently, the school shooting in Colorado. In addition to these mass shootings that are highly publicized and temporarily capture the nation’s attention, there are the daily incidents of gun violence that occur in cities all over the country. Over the past few months, Miami Gardens and Liberty City have been plagued by drive by shootings and other murders that have taken the lives of mostly young children. There was one case where a young girl was on her way to school when she was hit by a stray bullet.
As gun violence increases and becomes the norm, the questions on a lot of people’s minds are: are we safe and are our children safe? Since the Newtown shooting, some schools have began arming teachers. The program was set up so that no one would know who the armed teachers were. The teachers that were chosen were also required to go through training in order to learn how to use the guns and register them. While some thought that this was a great idea, others think that this has the potential to backfire. It only takes one armed teacher having a bad day to conduct a mass shooting. Also, if a student is set on carrying out a school shooting, having armed teachers may not act as a deterrent. While it may result in a faster response time, it could also lead to more causalities.
Current gun laws are ambiguous at best. Each state has its own set of regulations and some states are more thorough when conducting background checks than others. There are laws in the state of Florida such as the Stand Your Ground Law that confuse ordinary citizens as well as even law enforcement officials at times. The Stand Your Ground Law states that you do not have a duty to retreat if your life or property is in danger. You are allowed to fight back or “stand your ground” and claim self-defense. This law was brought to the public’s attention during the George Zimmerman trial.
This law will be resurfacing within a few months during the trial of Michael Dunn who is being charged with first degree murder and three counts of attempted murder after shooting at a car ten times while stopped a gas station because he allegedly saw one of the teens in the car raise a shotgun at him; there were four teens in the car and one was killed. No shotgun was found at the scene.
Florida courts also ruled recently that public universities cannot keep students from keeping guns securely locked away in their cars. This ruling came down 12-3. There is the likelihood of this ruling being appealed. Allowing students to have guns anywhere on campus, even if it’s just in their cars, has the potential for acts of gun violence.
In order for the frequency of gun violence to decrease, the existing gun laws that have made these shootings possible need to be re-evaluated and rewritten to protect the general public. Changing the gun laws may require those who are gun owners or enthusiast to be willing to compromise. However, if a little bit of compromise means that we can live in a safer environment where children don’t have to grow up in fear of going to school, it’s worth it.
words_taylor duckett. illustration_sarbani ghosh