Students and faculty reflect on Florida shooting and survivors’ push for stricter gun control

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The recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14 sparked protests and planned school walk-outs by students nationwide. A major march on Washington D.C. is planned for March 24. The hope for these demonstrations is to encourage legislators to pass reformed gun control laws.

On Feb. 23, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced a plan to raise the minimum age to purchase firearms. The Beacon talked to students on campus to learn how they felt about the incident and also the laws surrounding gun control. “I think it's awesome to see a wave of young people coming up (and) crying out for change, and kind of taking ownership of their generation...this is going to be their country in a few short years,” said freshman theatre arts major Bryce Yoder. “On the other side,” continued Yoder, “it deeply saddens me that the world we are living in currently is a world where our children are the ones who are having to lead while our leaders act like children.” Yoder said that he is not calling for a total gun ban. “The worst thing for this situation would be a gun ban,” he said. “But gun restrictions, and gun control I think is absolutely necessary, and just from a practical standpoint, I would love to see...there be a minimum age to buy weapons.” Sophomore theatre arts and vocal performance double major Sidney Sprunger’s mother is a fourth-grade teacher. Sprunger spoke about the risk of a shooter entering the school. “That's something that's super scary, and it's not just the young people that are sticking up for it,” she said. “Yes, they are more vocal, because they have social media, they have all these different platforms that they can use, but people... [such as] teachers are sticking up for it, too, and something needs to be done.” The protests have been promoted via social media since the shooting, but freshman applied politics major Matthew Anderson said that he’s skeptical of the change they will actually bring. “I've taken a lot of looks at Australia and Britain and how they've done their gun ban and things like that,” said Anderson. “In Great Britain...before they banned guns, they had a lot of gun violence, we'll admit that, and once they banned guns, gun violence went down. However, homicides did not, violent crime did not. It didn't change. And in fact, it went up over the next three years.” Anderson said that he feels that gun control laws won’t eliminate the problem, but merely move it to a different area. He also spoke about a ban on assault weapons. An assault weapon, the AR-15, was used by the shooter in Florida. “Going through and banning things like AR-15s…[is] not effective,” he said. “And there's a lot of reasons why, but to be truly honest, the reason they're popular is because they're a reliable gun…I don't think it's necessarily that it is a more lethal weapon, it's not. If you look at a lot of other rifles on the market, they're not much different.” Sophomore engineering major Jordan Young also spoke about his feelings on stricter gun laws. “I don't feel like it would help, because the guns themselves aren't really killing people, it's the people wielding the guns,” he said. “…Yes, I feel like, guns like what he used should not be allowed...to be sold like that, but I feel like it's all about the person wielding the gun instead of the gun itself.” Sophomore history and philosophy double major Joey Johns did mention a desire for a total gun ban. “While it's most likely impractical, I think that a machine that was designed for taking life from, whether it's animals or humans, doesn't have a place in a person's house...because the gun's sole purpose in creation was to do that,” said Johns. Sophomore criminal justice major Draya Williams spoke about the possibility of stricter psychological tests for those who wish to purchase firearms. “I think that'll help as far as who is in their right [mental] state to have a gun and have safety precautions and stuff like that,” she said. “They need to raise the age for it…that'll help to some extent.” Senior general music major Leah Jordan spoke about the response of her home community. She said that many people she knows are pushing against more government restrictions on firearms. “I just don't understand where their guns are taking priority over the lives of their children,” she said. “In philosophy, we've talked about, [that] there are... set ideals throughout cultures, and one of them is, 'don't harm your children.' And we have come to a point in our society where we are harming our children, and... it’s so hard for me to understand that.” The issue came up in the Problems and Issues class taught by Professor of History Dennis Engbrecht, Ph.D. “Teachers have a major influence in the lives of their students,” he wrote in an email response. “Therefore, it is important for Christians who are called to be salt and light to also be persons of influence in our school systems. This doesn’t require that they pray in the classroom or try to proselytize students during the school day. The role of the teacher allows that individual the opportunity to be a person of influence, a role model, a support system, and a great source of wisdom and insight.” (Photo by David Levêque on Unsplash)
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