School Shootings and Gun Policy: The Perspective of Students on Gun Violence in the United States of America

American students demand a change in gun policy

File:DSC 1277 (40808546311).jpg. (2021, November 19). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved 15:14, December 16, 2021 from

Anna Simonsen and Caitlin Standard

This is an opinion piece. Anna Simonsen and Caitlin Standard are sophomores at Mendham High School, who are staff writers for The Patriot. All of the opinions expressed in the article are their own, and do not necessarily reflect on the opinions of The Patriot as a whole.

Each day, upwards of 50 million children get ready for school, living in a country where they are three times more likely to succumb to a gun related death than a drowning. Firearm related incidents are the second leading cause of death among teens and children, with 59% of those deaths being homicide related. (The Major Causes of Death in Children and Adolescents in the United States). The state laws in America require students to attend school, but once on campus, the threat of a mass shooting hangs eerily over them, like a thunder cloud. In a developed country such as the United States, the need for more gun control, in order to protect innocent students, is crucial. Everytime students learn about another school shooting on the news, they cannot help but wonder if pro-gun government officials would rather keep outdated gun policies, than protect the American children.

The interpretation of the Second Amendment, which states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” has been a topic of debate throughout the nation’s history (The Second Amendment). Those who are more inclined to keep pro-gun policies argue that every citizen in the nation should be allowed to own a gun under the pretense of self defense. On the other hand, many see the dangers in granting any citizen the right to own a dangerous weapon, regardless of mental fitness. This group believes that only properly trained organizations and licensed individuals, such as the National Guard and the police, should be allowed to own guns. In order to take a side on this controversial topic, one should look at the history of the Second Amendment in the United States. When the Second Amendment references a “militia,” this translates to the groups of men in different communities of early American colonies, who were tasked with defending their towns against the British army during the Revolutionary War. During this chaotic time, there was a lack of a strong, organized military, and these militias were trained to use guns for the sole purpose of defense. In the two hundred years since the Second Amendment was ratified, it’s interpretation was the subject of countless Supreme Court cases. More recently, in 2008, the outcome of the District of Columbia vs. Heller case revealed that a narrow majority of the Supreme Court believed in “‘the right to possess a handgun in the home for the purpose of self-defense’” (Second Amendment United States Constitution). The purpose of the militias during the American Revolution, as well as the final decision of the Supreme Court Case, center around the idea that guns should only be used to protect oneself. In theory, this sounds great. That being said, there are too many individuals who are not using guns for the purpose given to them by the Second Amendment. Instead of carrying guns for self defense, gun privileges are constantly abused and are utilized to injure and kill innocent people. What the nation needed during the time of the American Revolution, which was a “well-regulated militia,” vastly differs from what the country needs now. A change in gun policy has to be made, as the threat of violent thinking gun owners, who lack intentions of self defense, only endanger innocent citizens caught in their crossfire. 

America, “the greatest country in the world,” has a long and unfortunate history of school shootings, with the first, modern premeditated school massacre being at the infamous Columbine High School. As flowers were blooming and eggs were hatching on an early Spring morning in Littleton, Colorado, 32 people were on the way to the hospital after being shot at their school. Hundreds of parents got a call saying that their child’s school was gunned down, and that 15 people had died. Instead of becoming an isolated attack on the American school system, Columbine becomes a part of a much larger statistic. There have been 31 school shootings in 2021 alone, a number that will continue to go up as long as older generations continue to fail their children (School Shootings this Year: How Many and Where).  Just recently, the parents of four students got a call saying that they would never see their children again. On November 30, 2021, Oxford High School joined America’s infamous history of unregulated gun violence. Of the four students that died, Tate Myre, a sixteen year old child, gave his life trying to unarm the gunman. While Tate Myre is a hero in the purest form, that was not his job. His job was not to sacrifice his own life for his peers (What We Know About the Michigan High School Shooting). The system failed Tate, his family, and all of the Oxford students that day, once again. The country unanimously mourns the loss of not only those students, but the sense of security that they no longer have. It does not matter how “heart broken” politicians are, without implemented change by the United States government, it is them that we direct our disappointment at. After every school shooting there are always people that try to understand what the shooter was thinking. How could a person do something so terrible to another human being? If history has shown us anything, it is that people are capable of anything. The question we should consider is how an individual, who swears to protect the community, state, or country, could continue to allow unregulated gun violence to kill people, specifically children sent to school to learn. At Sandy Hook, an elementary school, a 20-year old coward murdered 26 people in cold blood, 20 of them being between the ages of six and seven (Sandy Hook School Shooting). How can any right minded politician, Republican or Democrat, hear this and think about anything else until the problem is solved?

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, October 26). Northern Illinois University shooting. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:39, December 16, 2021, from

One aspect to consider is whether modern day issues are applicable to the original intention under which the Second Amendment was created. In the year 1765, Americans were beginning to see the negative effects of the Quartering Act. Some might have wanted a gun to protect themselves and their family from the drunken and wayward Red Coats residing in their homes. They may have purchased a Revolutionary-era musket that fires every thirty seconds, leaving them unable to kill multiple people in a short period of time. Because of this, they would have been a potential supporter of the right to bear arms (“Parliament Passed the Quartering Act”). Now let’s ask ourselves, is this a realistic modern day situation? Or have we left a centuries old amendment untouched, and allowed it to be falsely manipulated to fit the agendas of people who consider guns a major personality trait? The Second Amendment, in its current form, simply does not work. The evidence of this is in the news constantly, when another school faces a senseless attack. An issue that takes the lives of hundreds of children each year should, in no way, be politicized. It is not a debate, it is our lives. No civilized society would allow for children to live in fear of being killed at their school. Every year, families are ripped apart, never to be whole again, when their children are murdered during a school shooting. Every year, survivors of school shootings are mentally, and sometimes, physically, scarred for the rest of their lives. Every year, someone loses a friend, a family member, or a peer to a school shooter. Every year these things happen, and still nothing has changed. At this point, American students are not angry. They are disappointed in the adults who have failed them. As children, our parents and teachers tell us we can change the world when we are older. But why are children expected to make a change, when capable adults do nothing? School shootings would not happen so often, and so easily, if there were more gun regulation.

At this point, the United States government owes the American people a solution. It owes the families, forever broken by their children being murdered at school, a solution. It owes the American children, who have lost all sense of security and hope at their schools, a solution. There are numerous actions that can be taken to ensure that anyone purchasing a gun has good intentions. In the United States, the state of Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York have laws in place that require citizens to have a license in order to own a gun. These licenses come with an “in person application at law enforcement agencies,” which prevents people with fraudulent intentions from obtaining a gun (Licensing). The Federal Government can make a blanket law to ensure that all states follow such procedures. Licenses may not prevent all school shootings, but at least it is a start to create change in a country burdened with unregulated shooters. 

While guns have become somewhat of a political argument in our country, the death of innocent children is not. Gun violence must be a bigger priority for everyone, regardless of the political party they stand by. It is slightly unsettling when the two fifteen year old girls who wrote this article can see this, yet several adults cannot.