By Rhea Kohli and Yasmeen London
Dear House of Representatives,
We hope this letter finds you well. On behalf of the students across the nation, we are enraged. We feel the overwhelming need and responsibility to write to you about our concerns on gun violence in schools. Due to recent events, we’ve concluded that we need action now. In the last seventy-five days, there have been at least thirty interactions with gun violence at schools, and that is thirty too many.
A school shooting took place this month at Timberview High School located in Texas. What started as a normal lesson taking place in a classroom, snowballed into a violent fight. Eighteen-year-old Timothy Simpkins was identified as the shooter. Barely even an adult, and he already has the right to buy firearms. Not only is that immoral, but it is extremely horrifying. How are you going to let someone who is still maturing, buy a gun that not only threatens others’ safety but their own too? The legal age to purchase a gun is eighteen years old, but with the protocols being inefficient, people can buy guns as young as fourteen. This is especially disturbing since it opens the door for more devastating school shootings.
In the end, Simpkins was let go on a $75,000 bond and will be returning to school next month. No amount of buyout will ever make this okay. Those 75,000 dollars will never be able to heal the trauma inflicted upon the students of Timberview.
It is your job to lead us into the light while our nation is being engulfed in darkness. The goal of this letter is not to inform you of news that you should already be aware of. Representatives, this letter’s purpose is to implore you to make a change.
Our society is suffering because of gun violence. It’s a direct threat to our safety, and understanding that is crucial. The massacre at Columbine high school, where twelve students and one teacher sacrificed their last breath should have brought change. The Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, where seventeen students and staff had been shot, should have been a wake-up call. Yet, no difference in our gun control laws have been made. Students of Florida hosted a nationwide walkout on gun control, enraged after losing their close friends in the Parkland shooting.. But despite these cries for help, our laws remain stagnant.
How many more innocent lives need to be lost before you take action? How many parents need to be left childless for someone to make the first step? We are terrified to go to school because of the possibility that we might get shot. The pop noise that is made when opening a chips bag now reminds gun violence victims of bullets being fired. The National Center for PTSD estimates that 28% of people who have witnessed a mass shooting develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). How do you account for the mental trauma that we face? We grieve and will continue to grieve because of your congressional inaction.
We ask you to no longer fear for our lives. We ask for you to side with us and the three new ways we propose to end gun violence–
- We believe everyone who acquires a firearm must pass a background check regarding their state of mental well-being, must be over the age of twenty-one, and have a proper license to use these weapons. Any medical records that are on their record need to be looked into as well.
- High-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines should not be available to everyday civilians. There is no genuine purpose for these military-style weapons and magazines. Letting weapons like these be available to everyday civilians is truly a public safety concern.
- 80% of school shooters get their guns from a family member, a friend, or a relative. We request there be a law stating that there should be a storage space just for firearms. A few years ago, we explored a case in which a three-year-old girl took her life by shooting herself since her father’s gun was not safely protected. No more innocent lives should be taken because of this one foolish mistake.
No student should ever feel scared to enter a building that educates them. School is a student’s safe space to learn and grow. Correction– school was a safe space to learn and grow. Our fates have become unpredictable now that guns have become so commonplace. In the last twenty years, there has been a widespread call for more efficient gun control laws, but the progress has slacken. It’s time to change our policies. Representatives, we demand you to recognize gun violence and our desperation for a change. We demand you to lead us forward in our fight to strengthen gun control laws.
Image is from Architect of the Capitol