Instead of a day filled with candy hearts and chocolate-covered strawberries, Valentine’s Day marks the anniversary of a tragic day for the students and families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Last year on Feb. 14, a gunman opened fire in a high school in Parkland, Florida, and caused one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. Seventeen lives were lost that day and many other students and staff members were injured.
The shooting, which was one of the 307-plus that occurred in the United States in 2018, sparked national movements spearheaded by the student survivors.
The March For Our Lives on March 24, 2018, gained international attention, resulting in hundreds of sibling marches in support of stricter gun control and the end of gun violence in the U.S.
The Washington, D.C. march was believed to be one of the largest marches in American history, gathering over 800,000 individuals. These marches inspired movements nationwide, whether it be moments of silence or walkouts in both high schools and on college campuses.
Lehigh students partook in the “Lehigh For Our Lives” initiative in which students raised money to attend the march in Washington.
While the initiative raised $7,000, discussions of gun control are generally limited on Lehigh’s campus. The March For Our Lives brought attention to the issue and raised the question whether or not the Student Political Action Coalition would make a tangible impact. Yet, in actuality, nothing on Lehigh’s campus has changed.
There have been countless stories of guns falling into “the wrong hands,” killing innocent and unsuspecting people. We have reached a point where we are desensitized by gun violence. Hearing news of another mass shooting doesn’t surprise us anymore.
While guns are being put in the hands of teachers and preschoolers are learning to hide under their desks before they can write their own names, the crux of the issue has gone unchanged.
There are places in the U.S. where an unlicensed individual can obtain a gun in a matter of minutes. Ignoring these issues from a legislative standpoint means we are accepting this as OK.
On a political level, gun control remains one of the more divisive topics. President Donald Trump has attempted to appease both sides, essentially making no legitimate changes. Despite the banning of bump stocks, Trump has also stated that the best way to protect students is to put a gun in the hand of every teacher.
In reality, there is no way to please both sides in a conversation on gun control. As long as there are available guns, tragedies like the Parkland shooting will continue to occur.
As a student body we are ill-prepared. We have no instructions or formal procedures in place that students are taught when they arrive on campus
Lehigh has created a Crucial Conversations Dialogue Series titled “A Focus on School Shootings: What Everyone Should Know”, which will be held on March 5, 2019, and will address these exact issues. The question now becomes whether students will attend and whether these discussions will create change.