On Feb. 14, a gunman shot and killed 17 students and staff members from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
A little over a month later, there was another shooting at Noblesville West Middle School, injuring a student and a teacher. In the weeks between the shooting at Stoneman Douglas and the shooting at Noblesville, there were 14 other incidents involving gun violence at schools.
In the age of school shootings, students, parents and teachers have all expressed their concerns with not only their safety on campus, but also with legislation regarding gun control. Many have spoken out across the country hoping to have their voices heard by their representatives.
CNN even hosted a town hall meeting where Sen. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson and Rep. Ted Deutch were questioned on their opinions and ideas revolving around gun control by Parkland community members and Marjory Stoneman Douglas students. Dana Loesch, the spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, was also in attendance as the students of Stoneman Douglas wanted to hear the NRA’s opinion on guns.
Not only has the country been gripped by an era of gun violence in schools, but the nation has also experienced repeated uncertainty in the affairs of the government with the current presidency of Donald Trump.
ABC News noted “Trump’s unfiltered rhetoric on social media and the campaign trail, his penchant for controversial decisions on immigration and foreign policy, and the constant churn of Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has caused constant headaches for Republican candidates, and fodder for their Democratic challengers.”
With all the noise, it seems that change might be coming. In November, the midterm elections will take place across the country. Four hundred thirty-five seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate are up for grabs in what will be a contested race as candidates on the right hope to maintain their majority control, while the left hopes to tilt the House majority in their favor.
Voters will have to decide for themselves whether or not they want Republicans to keep control of the House while Trump is still in power. Young voters especially may have something to say in this upcoming election with their ballot due to the consistent string of school shootings that have left communities across the nation in pain.
However, as the United States Census Bureau noted, “voting rates have also historically varied according to age, with older Americans generally voting at higher rates than younger Americans.” It seems younger voters are less inclined to vote according to government statistics even though they are fully eligible to vote.
AP social studies teacher Mr. Mark Noe said that priorities really come into play with young voters. He explained how teenagers are so busy compared to most adults who are settled down that voting sometimes can get pushed aside.
AP social studies teacher Ms. Jill Baisinger said that high school seniors who are eligible to vote are worried about college and not always as much about, for example, health care and Social Security. She added that she always hopes to see an increased amount of young voters in every election because, as she said, “they make the system work.”
Noe said in reference to school shootings and their effect that “it’s in (young voters’) minds.” He continued by saying that he believes it hits close to home with many teenagers.
In regards to Donald Trump and his administration, Noe said, “his exterior probably is a turnoff to many people (in) the way (that) he behaves.”
Baisinger said, “whatever is most recently being covered in the media, right or wrong, are the ideas and thoughts that are going through the voters’ heads when they go to the polls.”
When asked specifically about school shootings, Baisinger said, “I didn’t worry about gun violence at school when I was growing up.” She now thinks about it though because she believes her Number-1 responsibility is to keep students safe, but she added, “just like students, it’s not something that I want to have to be concerned about every day when I come to work either.”
In this day and age, school shootings are happening more often, and it has catapulted debate over gun control and students’ safety within schools.
Now, more drills are being implemented within schools to prepare for the possibility of a shooter. Even here on campus, students have to wait for an all clear signal from the overhead speaker after the fire alarm is pulled to ensure that it is not a shooter drawing out students. Times are most certainly changing.
Our school’s administration should be applauded for its effort to increase security and to keep our campus safe. The wearing of the lanyards and the hiring of a school resource officer are especially good moves.
As the Nov. 6 Election Day continues to approach, the time for change or continuity comes with it. How will young people respond? U.S. history teacher Sr. Mary Ann Stewart said that November is an immensely important election. “I think it’s a real chance for people to make their feelings known about what is going on.”
Your calendar may be busy, but if you have registered to vote — and there is still time to do so — be sure to cast your ballot. Polls are open on Election Day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and you need a state ID, such as a driver’s license, in order to vote.