Students Take a Second on the Gun Debate
Mar 20, 2018
The school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School rocked the nation. It sparked intense debate and discussion about gun control and gun violence in the United States, and the teenage Parkland victims have used platforms to speak at length about the attack that left 17 people dead. Marco Rubio, senator of Florida, had a town hall meeting with those affected by the Parkland shooting on Feb. 21, where he promised to support legislation that would strengthen background checks, raise the age for rifle ownership and more, while still leaning into his conservative views.
During the townhall meeting, Rubio came out as explicitly against President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers in schools, a notion that CAS junior Ethan Lamb also agrees with.
“We can’t overlook security, so I think not, arming teachers, that would be a bad idea, that would probably be an impediment,” said Lamb, who currently resides in Sarasota, Florida. “If we guard schools then that could work toward mitigating a school shooting.”
Michael Johns, a policy analyst, leader of the National Tea Party movement and former speechwriter for George H.W. Bush spoke at an NYU College Republicans meeting on March 8. He supports arming teachers in schools and improving security in schools, which would make it harder to walk inside the building.
“I am intrigued and somewhat encouraged by the potential of allowing one or more faculty to maintain a weapon that could stop an event, in the event that it happened, if that can be done in ways that are safe and acceptable to ultimately, the school systems,” Johns said.
While Lamb admires Rubio for his town hall meeting with the Parkland victims, he said that it was divisive.
“The fact that the Democrats impute bad motives like Dana Loesch from the National Rifle Association or Marco Rubio, [are] akin to the murderer or the savage that gunned down this high school, I think is morally egregious,” Lamb said.
Liberal Studies first year and Miami native Valentina Maldonado does not support Rubio’s views on gun control, saying that he does not support “common-sense gun laws.”
“He didn’t mention his constituents when he was asked whether he would stop talking money from the National Rifle Association because they were buying into his agenda,” Maldonado said. “I think that kind of says a lot about his character, that he values monetary donations to his administration more than he values representing his constituents.”
President of the NYU College Democrats Fadumo Osman, a senior studying Computer Science and Politics in CAS, also dislikes Marco Rubio’s positions on gun control due to his refusal to stop accepting contributions from the NRA.
“I think Marco Rubio understands exactly what the Parkland students were asking for, I think he completely supports a ban on assault rifles,” Osman said. “He doesn’t have the spine to say no to the NRA.”
Students like LS first-year Cristina Maria de la Puerta said that gun culture is prevalent in the U.S., leading to slow gun reform.
“I think that what’s different about this is the kids who are speaking up,” de la Puerta said.
Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Rebecca Fischer also spoke about the ideological views behind gun control in America.
“People have interpreted or misinterpreted, particularly in the last twenty years, the meaning of the Second Amendment and the need for a gun for self-defense based on falsehoods,” Fischer said.
CAS first-year Hannah Finger, an Economics major and clay shooting hobbyist, thinks that the Second Amendment is outdated and stronger gun control legislation is needed.
“Maybe if the government were to start shooting at us with guns, then we would need our own guns to fight back, but the government has drones,” Finger said. “We’re bringing a gun to a drone fight.”
Tisch sophomore Aidan Thornbury, said that he supports gun reform, but strongly supports the Second Amendment as people need to defend themselves from a tyrannical government.
“The biggest way to solve this problem is education, responsibility and mental health,” Thornbury said. “Nobody knows the responsibility you’re supposed to have with a firearm. When you grow up in communities that do have that safety and responsibility ingrained in them from a young age you see way different numbers for gun violence, usually incredibly low.”
De la Puerta said that the Parkland shooting victims and their activism is a step in the right direction.
“The narrative here is not look at the sad thing that happened, but how are we going to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” she said. “I feel bad for any politician who underestimates them because I really feel like that this is the time, they are mobilizing and people are listening to them.”
Email Jendayi Omowale at [email protected]