Sincerely, students In the wake of the Parkland shooting, MVHS reflects on the state of gun control and what should change


Which route would a shooter take if they decided to target MVHS? Would they come through the front or the back? What kind of gun would they use?

If we have time to ask these questions, we still have time to prevent a shooting from ever happening.

On Feb. 14, 17 students were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 15 others were injured as a result of the former student’s rampage. He used an AR 15, a semi-automatic civilian rifle, which is easier to buy in Florida than a handgun.

Junior Stephen Migdal, senior Yang Yi Li and senior Olivia Lassa participate in the walkout with homemade signs and chant along. Photo taken by Zazu Lippert.

We then turn back to social media to see that many of our favorite celebrities and late night host personalities are championing the push towards stricter gun legislation.

At first the overwhelming support for the victims and the call-to-action is empowering. But the adrenaline passes, it all feels fake. Distant. Impotent. These people head to work at television studios everyday, not the United States senate. They aren’t the ones who are voting to change or introduce legislation.

Undoubtedly, the debate of gun control is one of the most imminent issues of 2018.

At MVHS, news of the Parkland shooting hit the student body especially hard because the 17 victims were the same age as us, and very well could have been us. It is clear that we need change, otherwise the same pattern of mass shootings will happen every year. The question and debate is, what kind of change?

Senior Ollie Venzon holds up a poster during the walkout while another student initiates chants for the crowd. Photo taken by Zazu Lippert.

The debate over gun control often falls into one category or the other — the left prefers stronger gun control, while the right prefers other constructive actions, the most recent example consisting of arming public school staff. To understand the clear partisan debate over gun control, we must look into the history of this country.

The Revolutionary War that gave America independence over Britain was won with firearms and rifles. When the redcoats were filing into the colonists’ houses, rifles were extremely useful to have. For some living in rural areas of this country, guns are essential to safety, which is why it was written into the Bill of Rights. The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, stating that the right for citizens to bear arms shall not be infringed, was instituted as a means of self preservation and deterent to tyranny, whether it be a foreign threat or our own government.

Yet we find that many of those pushing for stronger gun legislation; late night hosts, celebrities, and even lawmakers, benefit from armed citizens more than they think. While one one hand they say things like, “Who needs an AR 10,” they surround themselves with bodyguards who often carry with them that same gun model they are afraid of. They also benefit from living in safe communities, where the need to protect oneself using a firearm is almost non-existent. This includes us in Cupertino, where the responsibility of self-preservation is usually allocated to the police. The truth of the matter, however, that the average school shooting lasts 12.5 minutes, while the average police response time is 18 minutes. So while we personally might not be affected by raising the age of owning a firearm to 21, a 20 year old single-mother in Detroit would fare differently.

In acknowledging Cupertino’s privilege, it is essential to realize what causes shootings at high schools. Nikolas Cruz, an ex-student of MSDHS, showed signs of violence and white supremacist notions before he was expelled from school. Yet he was able to get a hold of an AR 15. Someone with a mental state as dire as his should never be able to handle an AR 15, yet 17 students were victims of this incident. Cruz’s motives as a lone wolf is nothing new to America: the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting was committed by Seung-Hui Cho, someone who had been scrutinized in school and admitted to a psychiatric center for suicidal intentions 2 years prior. Change as in, getting on your feet and showing your power as constituents, just like MVHS students did at the #NeverAgain walkout and vigil.

After an event such as a mass shooting, it is understandable that many will be confused and scared. Confusion and fear, however does not make for effective public policy. What we need moving forward, as we consider solutions proposed from either side of the political aisle is an educated public. If we are to continue existing as a country of armed citizens, we must be educated. High school government curriculum should include material on basic gun education. A perfect place to incorporate this curriculum is AP U.S. Government and Government classes, both required for seniors to graduate. Familiarizing students with basic gun vocabulary, like the difference between automatic, semi-automatic, and manual guns is essential to informational debates. Students should also graduate with knowledge on the gun laws of this country, because if they did, they would find that the fortitude of the steps to owning a gun pales in comparison to other countries. Students, however, should not be left in the dark about gun violence in the United States.

Students should be heard.

Students are the future.

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On Valentine’s Day, sophomore Ananya Rajagopal was coming back home from a tiring track and field practice when she first came across the news of the school shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In complete shock, she couldn’t register the fact that this shooting could have easily happened in any other high school — like MVHS.

“Honestly, [shootings in schools] have happened so many times,” Rajagopal said. “It's devastating but the reason why this one hit me hard was the fact that we are high schoolers and that this could have easily happened here.”

The school shooting in Parkland, Fl., which resulted in the deaths of 17 people, sparked the start of more serious conversations on gun control, as MSDHS students have begun rallying. It has spurred students to rise up and demand for action to be immediately taken. Students in the MVHS campus have also started to raise more awareness of this issue to their peers.

“We’ve grown up in a world where people [tell kids,] ‘You’ve got to be a leader,” Rajagopal said. “This is when kids are actually applying it. They are like ‘Hey, we can do something and this is something that affects us and that’s why we are going to change things.’”

Rajagopal is one of the many students who are eager to participate in the National School Walkout, which is taking place on March 13. She posts on Instagram daily to remind her followers to participate.

She explains that even though attending the walkout might not be a big deal to her followers, it keeps the stories of the countless victims of school shootings alive and shows that as students, they have the power to bring change to something. She also believes that the more people participating in the walkout, the more attention it will get from people with the authority to change things.

“I wasn’t sure if [participating in the walkout] was going to have any impact,” Rajagopal said. “The truth is, we are the ones who are still keeping the shooting in the news. This will help to keep it in the news, so that actual laws and motions can be passed.”

Similarly, teachers are also faced with the same grief and shock that students are feeling — chemistry teacher Mia Onodera and math teacher Sushma Bana are no exceptions.

Growing up in Arizona, Onodera used to live in a community where owning guns were part of an individual’s daily life. However, she personally believes in tighter gun regulations.

Times have changed since she grew up in Arizona. Schools have tightened school security by better preparing students to be more aware and always having high alert staff and security, according to CNN. However, Onodera thinks that due to the fact that school shootings have happened so many times, instead of schools being more meticulous during drills, they have stopped taking them seriously.

“I think drills are very important, especially because you can't predict what's going to happen,” Onodera said. “I think people need to be thinking more in-depth as far as the protocol. Just having a plan and people following [protocol] is professional requirement that doesn't necessarily get followed well.”

Bana agrees with Onodera, explaining that guns aren’t something that is normally part of functioning society. Although she understands why people who live in cities with high crime rates carry small handguns, Bana doesn’t comprehend why anyone can just walk into a store and buy a weapon.

“I truly believe that semi-automatic or automatic assault weapons have absolutely zero place in a civilized society,” Bana said. “As an 18 year old, you are not allowed to buy a cigarette for yourself but you can walk into a store and buy an AR-15, which makes absolutely no sense.”

The aftermath of the shooting also identified more than just the shooter as the culprit — the National Rifle Association (NRA). According to Business Insider, the NRA have strong influences on the Republican party, and also spent more than 50 million dollars trying to secure gun rights in 2016. Onodera and Rajagopal are both glad that people are starting to realize that the NRA holds too much power, especially in the light of recent events.

“The NRA is both good and bad,” Onodera said. “I think they have way too much political sway. In the past they have pushed an agenda based on power as opposed to the best things for our nation, so I think it is good that some people are making a stand [against them].”

In just January and February alone, 18 school shootings have occured in the U.S. With the stories of these countless lives lost, people have started more bravely voicing their opinions, for a call for change, and Rajagopal believes that this starts with students.

“Everybody has been telling these students that they are gonna be tomorrow's leaders,” Rajagopal said. “But [the students] are taking it one step further, and saying that ‘No, we are today's leaders because if the government isn't gonna do anything we are going to push them [into doing something]."

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Sincerely, MSDHS survivor

Video by Chetana Ramaiyer

Created By
Ruth Feng

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