48

Written by Spencer Shaak

December 8, 2021

48– There have been 48 shootings this year on K-12 campuses, and 32 since August 1st. Each day, 8 children die from gun violence in the United States. The shooting that happened at Oxford School in Michigan killing 4 people (all students: 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, Madisyn Baldwin, and Justin Shilling, both 17), and injuring 7 people (all students), is just the latest from a pandemic that has plagued the United States since 1970. And, what makes this pandemic worse is the fact that there is no scientific cure- there is no immunization to stop gun violence.

The cure for gun violence is changing the laws in this country to make it so people like Ethan Crumbley’s parents can’t just go out and purchase a gun on Black Friday and let him share it on social media like it’s his new greatest toy.  The cure for gun violence is eliminating the purchase of guns entirely, especially guns that are military-grade guns and can shoot many rounds in a matter of a few seconds. The cure for gun violence is if we can’t right away stop the purchasing of guns, that at least we make the conscious effort to have thorough background checks and require that each gun bought from a store comes in a locked container that makes it impossible for any child to open. The cure for gun violence is school officials empowering their counselors to pinpoint students who have exhibited anger, depression, or unusual behavior and making sure they feel involved in their community and have an outlet from what could be a very stressful home environment. The cure for gun violence is not to take away the rifles of hunters but instead ensure they’ve met the necessary background checks and also carry the gun in hunting-permitted zones. The cure for gun violence is also getting hunters to be advocates for gun control rather than opponents of it. The cure for gun violence is to get rid of politicians who promote the purchase of guns by displaying them in public.

The cure for gun violence is eliminating the purchase of ghost guns- gun parts that anyone can purchase online and assemble without ever going through a complete background check. I know I’m missing many cures here because, at the end of the day, the cure to gun violence is true compassion and love.

For four years, I taught English as a second language in South Korea. The students were such a pleasure and joy to teach, and I miss them every day.

To some, I still write notes back to them, and they do the same. I’ll never forget the day I walked into my academy the day after the news of a major US school shooting. One student raised their hand before class started and caught me completely off-guard.

The eight-year-old girl asked me, “Mr. Spencer, why was there shooting in that school in the United States? I don’t ever want that to happen here.”

What do you say to a question like that? In all my life, I never felt less patriotic, yet I answered the question to make the girl and the rest of my students feel safe.

“It won’t ever happen here,” I said. “Because no person here can ever own a gun unless they’re in the military or a police officer. And those people, the police and soldiers, are who protect you, and me, and us, right?”

I waited till she said yes, and continued. “So, feel proud that you live in a country like yours, South Korea, where you can feel safe.”

Of course, another student asked me if I worried about gun violence when I was their age as a student, and I do remember there being times where I did worry. All I could do was try to revert back to the safety and precautions of South Korea. However, in the back of my head, all I could do was imagine how this conversation would’ve gone if I was talking to a classroom full of students in the US. Would my answer have been the same? Would I have told them too that, We’re safe here- don’t worry.  Would I have said something different also, That’s why we have metal detectors, security guards and police officers, and active shooter drills to keep us safe? 

The truth of the matter is if gun violence continues in the same direction, the United States is not the country I will allow my daughter to attend school in. It hurts me to say this as I enjoyed going to school so much in the United States. I played chess after school, I was in the band and Latin Club, and I ran cross-country and track. I formed such great friendships with teachers and friends. This involvement in the community is something I so dearly want my own daughter to experience and be involved in.

Yet, things have to change. They must. People shouldn’t be afraid to enter any public place with their family whether it be in a school, stadium, or shopping mall, and worry if someone who isn’t a police officer may be concealing a gun. Schools shouldn’t have to be investing in metal detectors and gun-proof doors, and armed security guards to stop gun violence. Students shouldn’t be trained on how to climb under their desks while their teachers prop other desks and objects against their classroom door. I sincerely hope that the United States changes soon because today’s guns that can be purchased aren’t the same ones that were referenced back in 1787 when our Constitution was signed. It is time for all gun owners to realize that, and to also realize that our children deserve no greater protection than our own kindness and love.

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