Shootings Prompt Questions

Julia Nall, Print Editor

In the wake of recent school shootings, gun control is once again in the focus of American media. In campaigns and debates, politicians are beginning to take stands as the general population re-evaluates how they view guns and gun laws.

“Guns themselves are not bad,” junior Jessica Clendening said. “It’s the handler behind the gun. The gun [didn’t magically] appear in the school and shoot up children and staff, it didn’t do that. The gun was a tool to do that, behind someone who had evil intentions.”

Junior Jessica Clendening. | Julia Nall photo
Junior Jessica Clendening. | Julia Nall photo

Arkansas has a personal relationship with gun violence. In 1998, two middle schoolers killed five and wounded ten at Westside Middle School school outside Jonesboro. The shooters spent time at the Alexander Youth Services Correctional Facility until they each turned 21 and were released.

In 2014, ABC News reported 31 school shootings since the Columbine High School tragedy in 1999, about a year after the Jonesboro shooting.

“I think [school shootings happen] because people bully a lot of other people,” freshman Matthew Cook said. “Bullying has a strong influence on people’s emotions and self esteem, and it kind of drives people over the edge.”

Clendening agreed that bullying was a factor in school shootings.

“School shootings happen, in my personal opinion, due to people behind the guns,” Clendening said. “The people behind the guns have had maybe a traumatic experience in high school. I think the reasons shootings keep happening is because when it’s happened once and tolerated, other people might see it as an escape, like a stress reliever or  a way out of their own personal issues,”

During the Oct. 12 CNN Democratic debate, candidate Hillary Clinton criticized fellow candidate Bernie Sanders for not being “strong” enough with gun laws. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has been called an “enemy” by multiple Democratic candidates. Republicans, however, have opposed some control measures that Democratic candidates have suggested. But, gun control is a topic that has been prevalent in political discussion, and the two parties will most likely continue to debate the topic in the

Freshman Matthew Cook. | Julia Nall photo
Freshman Matthew Cook. | Julia Nall photo

public eye.

Gun control is viewed by some as a way to prevent school shootings.

“Stricter gun control [could prevent shootings], and stricter enforcement on ‘no-bullying,’” Cook said.

Some believe that it is more guns, not fewer, that would prevent the problem.

“I guess the best way to prevent a school shooting is don’t let the school seem weak,” Clendening said. “I’d say, somehow arm the school. If you trust these teachers enough to be in a classroom for an hour with no one else to watch them, you should trust that they’re not going to just shoot your children. These people must be trained and they must be well-respected, it’s not like ‘Oh, well you can just bring your gun to school,’ a lot of precautions have to be taken. That’s the best way to prevent it.”

The 2016 presidential election could determine some gun control measures, but ultimately, the decision is in the hands of the public.

“I just hope no more school shootings happen,” Cook said. “I just hope we can stop bullying and things that cause these school shootings and I just hope people don’t use guns for harm anymore.”