By Lily Nemirovsky
This spring I was part of a group of students at Bedford High School who organized our school’s participation in the national student walk-out on March 15. During the planning, I was exposed to the many strong and diverse opinions of my peers. On the day of the event as we marched out of the building I saw fellow students around me shouting, “The NRA has got to go!” and “Enough is enough.” The faces around me were passionate and determined to make a statement that said we found the failure of our legislators to pass laws regarding gun control unacceptable and that we would not stop demanding changes.
Another group of students stood together wearing Trump apparel. I wondered whether they were supporting those in favor of more gun regulations and were perhaps trying to make a statement that they could support both our Republican and conservative President and the reforms we were advocating or if they were trying to express their opposition to suggested reforms. Seeing them made me wonder how their views differed from my own and how diverse the opinions of the student body at Bedford High School might be.
One student I spoke with believed that stricter gun laws would not prevent or reduce gun violence. Instead, he believed that the best thing to do was to focus on mental health. Strict gun laws are already in place in Massachusetts and enacting even stricter laws would just punish law abiding citizens. When asked how safe he felt in school on a scale of one to ten, ten being the safest, he responded “nine”. “If someone really, really wants to harm me or others, they’re going to find a way to do so. If they are that determined to get a gun illegally, they will, no matter how many laws get put in place … but I don’t think there is anyone that determined.”
Later, I spoke with Datev G., a sophomore, who agreed that tighter restrictions would not prevent criminals from obtaining guns because they don’t follow the law anyway and they would go out of their way to find them regardless of any preventive measures. He argued that the NRA is not at fault; it’s the people who get their hands on guns who are at fault. He thinks the extensive and “unnecessary” background checks Massachusetts already has “don’t really prevent people with mental illnesses from getting access to a gun.” He wants the government to concentrate on improving mental health rather than focus on gun control laws. Additionally, he wants there to be at least one armed guard in every hallway at school. He felt an 8.5 level of safety during school hours.
The rest of the students I spoke with all advocated for more thorough background checks and banning assault weapons. They didn’t see a reason for any citizen, no matter how law abiding, to possess a weapon with the sole purpose of firing off as many bullets as possible. These students indicated that they felt a 7.5 or 8 out of 10 on the question of feeling safe at school. Imagining going to a school where every teacher was equipped with a gun unnerved them.
I personally feel it is outrageous that some politicians are being allowed to let personal financial considerations (e.g., donations from the NRA) take priority over the lives of children, students, sisters, brothers, and friends in America. However, even though I am a strong advocate for stricter gun laws, I believe it is important to hear the voices of the opposition. No matter how much we may disagree, giving people a chance to share their opinion is the only way to reflect a true democracy.