Staff Editorial: We aren’t safe, and it’s not just about guns

Feature Photo By: Mya Johnson – A sign informs visitors that they must have a valid ID when entering the building and Campus Monitor Steve Egloff sits at the front desk watching who comes in through the front doors. Students are supposed to have their IDs when they enter the school.

By: Raider Review Staff

We are not safe at Rangeview High School. With every new school shooting, we talk about “them,” but this conversation needs to shift to “us.”

On Wednesday, February 14, news hit that another mass shooting had made its way onto the list of American gun crimes, taking the lives of 17 students and teachers. Just months before, in November 2017, 26 people were killed in a shooting at a church in Texas; in October, a man open fired in Las Vegas killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more; dozens of other shootings – too many for the news to report – have stained this year and the last.

Countless countries have stricter gun control laws and have decreased mass shootings as a result. Since The Firearms (Amendment) Act of 1997 was put into place in Great Britain, gun use has declined dramatically. Japan has a rate of nearly 0 deaths per million people because of its almost zero-tolerance gun laws. There have been no mass shootings in Australia since the Port Arthur shooting 20 years ago because its immediate gun ban.

A sign on the side door read “Emergency Exit Only Alarm Will Sound.” Many students leave out this door though as the alarm does not go off when opened. (Mya Johnson)

America, by contrast, has changed gun laws very little since the Bill of Rights was signed in 1791. There have been hundreds of shootings on that timeline. According to CNN, “The US makes up less than 5% of the world’s population but holds 31% of global mass shootings.”

But it’s not just about guns. It’s about America’s mentality. We’re a selfish, individualistic, and aggressive culture.

Individualism is a core value in American culture. You take care of your needs first and then plant yourself with people like you. We are less like a pride of lions and more like a flock of sheep.

Often, as sheep, we wander off on our own because self-reliance is ingrained into our heads from a young age. We learn to be independent and develop the ability to do things on our own. But when sheep are on their own, they usually put themselves in danger. This sense of independence from the flock can quickly turn into feelings of isolation.

When we lose the pack, the freedom turns frightening and oftentimes, we lose our desire for self-reliance.

As teenagers, when the label of seclusion lands on our shoulders, it can turn us aggressive. When we have no one to lean towards, we don’t blend in. Our social culture is built on cliques: find what you like, establish yourself with others that are like-minded, and stay there. When there is no group to fall into, it becomes an “us vs. them” mentality. This is where the aggression comes.

School should be a safe place. Our parents should not worry about the fate of us when they drop us off. Our teachers should not have the conversations of what to do if — or when — there is a shooter in our school.

But they do.

After the Florida shooting, many Rangeview teachers had conversations with their students about school safety. In the past few weeks, administration has come on during the daily announcements to remind us to have our IDs and not wear hats or hoods so we can be identified.

While these are good policies to implement, there are two main things wrong with them. Students and staff alike get lazy. We don’t want to pull out our IDs every time we leave campus and the adults checking don’t seem to want to harass us about them. More startling though is most high school shooters are not intruders; they are students.

Cheryl Wetzel, a math teacher, checks where seniors Nathan Jones and Roxeanne Oyesile are headed during their off period. At the start of this semester, a new policy was implemented where students must have a pass and their IDs with them to be in the halls during class. (Mya Johnson)

If students want to harm their classmates, they can walk into the school. The Florida shooter was a past student at Stoneman Douglas High.

Besides these policies that often fail, the building is not always secured the way it should be. The doors that say they are alarmed do not go off when they are opened and most teachers who are monitoring the halls do not check on the students that walk past them.

These things might seem like a pain, but they could be the difference between life and death.

It’s heartbreaking to think that students have to return to their school after their classmates died right next to them in that building. It’s horrifying.

Rangeview can’t be next; no school can be. We need to stop talking about school shootings like it’s just a gun problem or just a mental health problem.

Yes, these things need to be considered, but it is much more than that. We must be active in staying safe; we must do everything in our power to prevent another tragedy; we must fight for change.

Our safety needs to be prioritized. Before anything else happens, RHS administration and staff need to enforce policies that are meant to keep us safe and students need to actually follow them. If we have to protect ourselves from tragedies like these, we need to be proactive, not reactive.

Our lives are more important than not stopping kids in the hallway. Our lives are more important than not wanting to show an ID at the door. Our lives are more important than being lazy with the rules. Something needs to change.

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