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Gunshots during math class

Learning how to shield oneself from bullets should not be found within our nation’s curriculum.

Flowers, candles and signs are left at a memorial for victims of the Robb Elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Flowers, candles and signs are left at a memorial for victims of the Robb Elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
REUTERS/Marco Bello

I was in elementary school when we practiced our first active shooter drill.

The protocols are still ingrained in my mind: the teacher locks the door, pulls down the blinds and ushers the children into a corner of the classroom, making them sit arm to arm like sardines. The students huddle together in silent anticipation of what comes next. Then, suddenly, an invisible body vigorously jiggles the handle of the classroom door from the outside, playing the part of an intruder. Twenty-five young bodies go rigid with fear. And then, just as quickly as it began, the principal’s voice crackled over the loudspeaker, instructing the survivors that the drill was over.

For some students, this scenario ends with actual gunshots instead of the principal’s reassuring voice. We must advocate for stricter gun control legislation to be passed to protect our children against such violence.

According to the K-12 School Shooting Database, in 2022 alone, there were 303 incidents of a gun being fired or brandished on school property. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, firearms are now the leading cause of death for children ages 1-19 years old. In 2023, the Gun Violence Archive estimates there has been an average of more than one mass shooting each day. And as recently as March 27, 2023, yet another school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee shook the nation. In that shooting, three nine-year old children and three adults were shot and killed.

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As a nation, we should be terrified and abhorred by this pointless tragedy. The political parties of our nation should be rallying together to pass legislation that protects children from being shot down by a firearm. Instead, the response of state legislatures to these tragedies have ranged from indifference to mocking.

On April 3, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that will allow individuals in his state to carry concealed firearms without a permit or training. Other states have passed similar legislation in recent years, with the Tennessee Legislature allowing most residents to openly or concealed carry loaded firearms in public without a permit. Following the recent Nashville shooting, the Tennessee Senate is due to debate a bill allowing school staff to carry handguns on school grounds.

State legislatures are foolishly trying to fight fire with fire; responding to gun violence by adding more guns into the mix. This method has proven ineffective and we, as citizens of the nation, have the power and the obligation to press for change.

Many people argue that the constitutional right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment is protected from regulations. However, this argument misinterprets the purpose of the Constitution. The U.S. Constitution is deliberately fluid and open to interpretation as the framers acknowledged their inability to predict the technological advances of the future. Muskets and pistols were the weapons of the day at the time the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution in 1791. Semi-automatic weapons did not exist, nor could they have been imagined. According to the Smithsonian Learning Lab, when using a musket, an individual would be lucky to get off one shot in 30 seconds. A semi-automatic weapon can fire off more than a dozen shots in just a few seconds. Guns today are cheaper, more readily available, and more deadly than the framers could have ever imagined. Therefore, we should not read into the Second Amendment the ability to keep and bear assault weapons.

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We the people are empowered to regulate what types of firearms are allowed to be sold and under what conditions individuals can obtain and keep firearms. Examples of potential regulations include banning assault weapons, requiring mandatory training for gun owners, creating a federal database where the government tracks all gun sales, requiring gun owners to obtain permits, or raising the age requirements to buy guns.

Implementing these gun safety measures would be effective in making our schools and our country safer. A study from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that gun availability is a large risk factor for homicide. By implementing safeguards that make guns harder to obtain, or, at the very least, by limiting individuals’ access to assault weapons, there will be less gun violence.

There are many ways to advocate for stricter gun control. First and foremost, we must communicate our anger and demand change from our elected representatives. Calling or writing to your senators, representatives or local government officials is imperative to force the political process to move towards change. If our elected officials choose to place our children in harm’s way, we can and should vote them out of office.

If you are financially able to donate to gun violence prevention organizations, do so. If you are unable, you can donate your time by volunteering at gun reform meetings or rallies. Lastly, do your research. Ensuring that you can back up your argument for gun safety reform is essential to prevent spreading misinformation and will help your argument be more persuasive.

The core academic subjects for children to study in elementary school include math, science, literacy and social studies. Learning how to shield oneself from bullets should not be found within our nation’s curriculum. It is our responsibility to protect children from facing a violent end. It is our duty to advocate for change.

Marley Jones and is a law student at Mitchell Hamline School of Law.