On Wednesday, February 14th, 2018, a tragedy rocked the nation. In Parkland, Florida, suspect Nikolas Cruz entered the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School armed with a loaded AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Cruz began shooting within the freshman building, eventually discarding the weapon and ammunition in a stairwell, and exiting the school by blending in with fleeing students. Authorities arrested Cruz at 3:41 p.m. as he was walking down a residential street (Turkewitz, Mazzei, and Burch, 2018). It was later discovered that there were 17 victims from the school shooting, 4 more than the Columbine massacre in 1999 (Cameron, 2018). Despite the amount of shootings that have occurred in the past couple decades, very little has been done by government officials to ensure safety within the U.S educational system.
There are differing views on what can be done to protect those at educational institutions, but what cannot be disputed is the rise of gun violence in the United States and its effect on children. According to a study of World Health Organization data in the American Journal of Medicine, it has been found that 91 percent of children younger than 15 who were killed by gunfire lived in the United States (Cox and Rich, 2018). Even in instances where accidental gunshots were fired on campus grounds with no injuries, those affected still may have experienced trauma.
However, these incidents are not limited to the locations already affected. These events are real, and can happen anywhere, at anytime.
Not even a day after the Parkland, Florida school shooting, Loch Raven High School, 2.5 miles from Goucher College, went into lockdown due to a student bringing a pellet gun into the building. Apparently the student had shown the gun to another student, then discarded it. The offending student was charged as a juvenile for possessing a dangerous weapon on school property. Before the student was arrested, the school went into a lockdown for almost an hour, during which the students of the school hid in fear. Eighteen year old student Jordan Staten said, ‘“We were really scared. It was really awkward. We didn’t really know what to do, just [had to] sit there and wait. Whenever we heard a small noise or something, we’d freak out.”’ (Campbell, Knezevich, and Richman, 2018). No person should ever feel threatened while at a school, a place meant to be a safe space for learning and growth.
What can we do as a school to put a stop to these incidents?
As a community consisting of students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni, Goucher College possesses an incredible capability to induce change. If the entirety of the school and it’s connections were to contact Maryland state and local representatives, and the representatives of their home-state, perhaps some form of legislation could be proposed to address the issue. Now is the time to voice your concerns. We can not afford to keep quiet.
To contact your federal, state and local officials, you can find their information at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.