Learning in Fear

With guns still readily available, we haven’t learned from last year’s tragedy


Jessica Berton/ Bear Witness

Julianne Alvares, Opinion

For some events, it’s impossible to forget where you were when you heard the news. You remember exactly what you were doing, ingrained in your mind forever.

I had just walked in the door, put my backpack away and turned on the TV. Big flashing letters scrolled across the screen saying “14 dead in Parkland shooting,” the number would rise as more casualties were reported. My mouth was agape with shock. How could something like this happen? How could this happen again, after Columbine and Sandy Hook?

It has been a year since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school that claimed the lives of 17 students and staff and not much has changed. This wasn’t the first school shooting and the nation was still reeling from the Vegas attack months earlier, where a gunman opened fire on a crowd at a concert. But this one was different.

The survivors gained a public platform and began to advocate for stricter gun laws and safety, something previously unheard of. They were determined that no one else would have to endure what they had, birthing the March for Our Lives movement. Within a few months the movement spread across the country sparking walkouts and protests in the following month.

However, despite the incredible work by the Parkland survivors and activists across the nation, not much has changed federally for gun laws. 2018 saw the greatest number of gun laws enacted since the Newtown massacre. However, not all these laws were related to gun control or regulations. In fact nine of those regulations passed actually loosened the rules around gun ownership.

What is it going to take for America to have substantial gun laws? We still have not banned the gun responsible for the slaughters in Las Vegas, Aurora, Newtown and Parkland. AR-15s are still easily accessible.

In fact, I have one in my house as I type this. It’s perfectly legal that the weapon of choice for mass shooters is sitting less than 20 feet away from me.  Nestled between my father’s police issued weapons and my birth certificate. Easily accessible. If I wanted to do harm it would be as easy as opening up my safe and walking to school.  

One of the most commonly referenced examples of gun control is Australia. After the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996, where 35 were killed, the country banned semi-automatics and military-style weapons, weapons that are still legal in the U.S.

Australia also instituted many buyback programs — programs where the government buys back guns from its citizens — and the amount of gun violence has decreased significantly.

After the 1996 attack, the rate has been decreasing, reaching an all time low in 2007.  Additionally, their murder rate is one-fifth of the U.S.

Following in Australia’s footsteps, the U.S. needs to have radically tougher restriction on purchasing guns and ammunition.

It’s been a year since Parkland and the weapon used to murder these 17 students, and many more, can still be bought. The U.S. should look to Australia as an example and instituting buyback programs and ban assault style weapons. Malls, schools, and movie theaters deserve to be safe places.

After 307 mass shootings in 2018, enough is enough.