Op-Ed: Parkland, Fla., shooting and why I oppose more gun laws

by Ethan Duncan

The school shooting in Parkland, Fla., was a national tragedy and we all mourn for the victims and their families.

However, the issue was quickly politicized, with the left basing their platform off of this tragedy to push a political agenda to increase gun control. The school shooting in Florida was not the fault of Americans with guns in their homes, or the accessibility of guns, despite public outcry to limit and even ban the ownership of guns.

Guns can never be outlawed in this country because the citizens need them in the case of government tyranny, and the removal of guns actually doesn’t reduce violent crime.

First of all, the cause of the Parkland shooting was not gun ownership, but rather a complete and total failure by the authorities. NPR states that dozens of calls to the police and FBI were made by the shooter’s family with concerns about the kid’s behavior (starting when he was 10 years old), and there was no response.

Not only this, but reports state that a police officer was stationed outside the school and did nothing. CNN reported: “When Coral Springs police officers arrived at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on February 14 in the midst of the school shooting crisis, many officers were surprised to find not only that Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson, the armed school resource officer, had not entered the building, but that three other Broward County sheriff’s deputies were also outside the school and had not entered, Coral Springs sources tell CNN. The deputies had their pistols drawn and were behind their vehicles, the sources said, and not one of them had gone into the school.”

The infamous school shooting in Columbine, Colo. in 1999 was due to a similar issue. Eric Harris, one of two shooters involved, ran a website containing instructions to create and use explosives as early as 1997. Locals who had access to the site had filed several complaints to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. In response, Harris and his future fellow shooter, Dylan Klebold, were put through mediocre attempts to fix their mental state, which were clearly ineffective, and in 1999, the two killed 13 fellow students and themselves.

The police’s failure to respond effectively prior to these shootings (and they had plenty of opportunities to do so) and during the event cost many young people their lives and has caused heartache for the victim’s families.

Secondly, the forced removal of guns in our country would violate the Constitution’s Second Amendment, which gives Americans the right to bear arms in case of government tyranny. With sentiment for socialism and collectivism increasing in our nation with the candidacy of self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders in the 2016 elections, “government tyranny” can be expected to take place in the next century or so as our society moves further and further toward socialist ideas.

Another reason to keep guns in our society is that they protect the “good guys” from the “bad guys.” Law-abiding citizens should absolutely be permitted to own a gun because without them there would be a significant increase in crime.

According to Guns in America, 200,000 women per year use a gun to protect themselves against sexual abuse and 60 percent of felons surveyed reported that they would be less likely to target an armed victim. The Crime Prevention Research Center states:

“Every place that has banned guns (either all guns or all handguns) has seen murder rates go up. You cannot point to one place where murder rates have fallen, whether it’s Chicago or D.C. or even island nations such as England, Jamaica, or Ireland. For an example of homicide rates before and after a ban, take the case of the handgun ban in England and Wales in January 1997. The immediate effect was about a 50 percent increase in homicide rates.  Firearm homicide rate had almost doubled between 1996 and 2002.

The homicide and firearm homicide rates only began falling when there was a large increase in the number of police officers during 2003 and 2004.”

This shows clearly that the banning of guns in several different places (UK, Ireland, D.C., Chicago, Jamaica, etc.) has been ineffective in deterring murder rates. In fact, it has increased the chance of being murdered in these places.

Chicago is notorious for having a high murder rate (17.52 murders per 100,000 in 2015 according to Rapid City Journal). Compare that with Burlington, a city in a state with concealed carry and relatively loose gun laws, where only 10 murders occurred in 2016 (population of 626,000) according to the Burlington Free Press. Vermont is one of the safest states in the country, and our loose gun laws are evidence that safety and gun ownership can coexist in America.

Rather than banning guns, we need to tighten up school security. But, this solution lies not in Washington, but in our communities.

It’s obvious that our school could make some cuts to increase its security budget and protect the lives of students. With an increased budget, we can hire security staff, increase campus safety, and filter who enters the school. We need to stop crying foul on legislators and the government and start making a difference in our towns.

Ethan Duncan attends Champlain Valley Union High School.

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