Are Guns Protecting Us Any More Or Are They Putting Us In More Danger?

Are Guns Protecting Us Any More Or Are They Putting Us In More Danger?

Guns have changed us. All of us.

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I grew up in Alabama. In Alabama, people like to hunt and fish but they also love to shoot at targets and skeets. When I was 15 my godfather took me rifle shooting where I shot at paper targets 50 feet away. After many hours I finally hit the target and the rest of the time target practice felt exciting to me. A few years later one of my friends took to a shooting range where we shot at paper targets. It has been three years since I shot a gun and right now I have decided not to use one anytime soon. While I still enjoy the idea of target practice and the excitement of hitting the target I can't help but think about how guns are used aside from target practice.

This article isn't pro or anti-gun or me defending my view on politics. This article is meant to inform. One of the main things that got me so interested in journalism and writing is that it is a medium used to get the word out. To inform. I write this article because I know this is a topic we are all familiar with but do we ever sit down during the day and talk about our opinions of it. When I learned about the second amendment I thought about how it should be used in self-defense. I was never a huge fan of guns but I understand why some people carry them or have them in the house. What I still don't understand is why there have been more shootings.

In February, we all remember the Stoneman Douglas shooting for which many of us are still hurt from. Many of my closest friends are from that district and I just remember thinking what if that was my friend or someone I knew there. I still think about Stoneman Douglas but it still leaves me with questions. Guns freak me out at times but I still struggle to picture something of this magnitude happening.

Having to hear that a shooting happened in Jacksonville, FL five months after Stoneman Douglas gives me chills. Many of my friends are from Florida and I have been fortunate enough to visit them over the years. However, shootings in this state still take some time for them to recover from. Five months ago I had to watch my close friend's father comfort the community of Parkland as their congressman. He had to comfort a reporter who broke down on live television and asked him "Why would this happen?" "Why would someone do this?". While watching this on television I had to ask myself the same question and five months later I am asking them again.

I have always been a part of a community. These communities being affected by the shootings are now trying to piece back together with their lives, relationships, and communities. A shooting derails our lives whether it's in our neighborhood or we just see it on television. Since the Jacksonville shooting there have been 234 mass shootings in 2018 and I am terrified that the number is so high with four months left of the year. Our lives are forever changed from these events and even when we try to adjust them it can still come crashing down. I love my country and I love the state I live in but at the same time, I feel there are days I am living in fear. It will take me some time to calm down from these situations but this is an event we need to monitor heavily.

This article isn't meant to discuss my beliefs or influence you to throw your gun away but it is designed for me to speak my truth. Journalists use writing as a form of communication but I have decided I need to use it as a way of self-expression. I don't agree with everything and I don't choose sides all the time but this allows me to find a way to express myself. I'm not here to change minds but I am here to inform. Gun violence might be a problem in the United States but my intention isn't to advocate for a side.

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10 Deadliest School Shootings in U.S. History

These are ten of the most savage attacks on American innocence.
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School shootings in America trace back as early as the Settlers and Indians .

Over the years, attacks on schools have gotten progressively more brutal, senseless and deadly. Motives behind such occurrences are often blamed on social cliques and bullying or the perpetrators often suffer from mental illnesses or addiction.

Here are the 10 deadliest school shootings in American history:

10. West Nickel Mines Shooting

On October 2, 2006, milk-tank truck driver Charles Carl Roberts opened fire on a small Amish schoolhouse in Bart Township, Pennsylvania. Prior to going to the school, Roberts left a suicide note at home for his wife and children.

Roberts entered the one-room schoolhouse and ordered all the boys to leave, as well as one pregnant woman and three parents with infants. He ordered the remaining ten girls against the wall and held them hostage.

Sisters Mariah and Barbara Fisher, ages 13 and 11, courageously asked to be shot first in exchange for the lives of the other young girls; some were as young as six years old. Roberts killed Mariah and wounded Barbara. In addition, he shot eight out of the 10 girls, killing five of them.

9. Oikos University Shooting

43-year-old One L. Goh committed Oakland, California's deadliest mass killing on April 2, 2012, at the Korean Christian college Oikos University. Witnesses testify Goh stood up in his nursing class and ordered everyone against the wall at gun point.

One student recalls him yelling, "Get in line..I'm going to kill you all!" before firing. He killed seven people and wounded three others.

8. California State Fullerton Massacre

Custodian Edward Charles Allaway was reported as going "postal" on July 12, 1976 at California State University in Fullerton, California. The 37-year-old employee of the institute had a history of violence and mental illness, and was later diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.

He was found insane by the judge of his trial for the murders. He called the police after killing seven people and wounding two others, and turned himself in. His motives behind the mass murder included him believing the university library was screening pornographic movies his wife was forced to appear in.

He is currently receiving medical treatment for his condition at the Patton State Hospital.

7. Red Lake Shootings

The Red Lake Indian Reservation in Red Lake, Minnesota will never quite be the same after events which occurred at the senior high school on March 21, 2005.

16-year-old Jeffrey Weise killed his grandfather (a tribal police officer) and his girlfriend. He then robbed his grandfather of police weapons and bullet proof vest, before ultimately driving to Red Lake Senior High School where he killed seven people and wounded five others.

Weise took a total of 10 lives that day, including himself. He committed suicide in a classroom after exchanging fire with police.

Witnesses reported Weise smiled while shooting his victims and questioned multiple students about their faith before firing.

6. Umpqua Community College Shooting

On October 1, 2015, 26-year-old Christopher Harper-Mercer committed the deadliest mass shooting in Oregon history. He killed nine people and injured seven others at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

He spared one person in the classroom he opened fire in, only to deliver a message to the police for him. Mercer was described as "hate filled" by those who knew him. In addition, he identified himself as a White Supremacist, anti religious and suffered from long term mental health issues.

Some theories behind the mass shooting were Mercer falling below a C average, putting him at risk for suspension, as well as him not being able to pay the tuition bill due.

He ultimately committed suicide after the attack.

5. Enoch Brown School Massacre

The Enoch Brown School Massacre is one of the first documented school shootings in U.S. history. On July 26, 1794, four Lenape Indians entered a Settler's schoolhouse in Delaware where they massacred school master Enoch Brown and nine children; they were shot and scalped.

Two children survived the attack and four others were kidnapped and taken as prisoners. This event is considered one of the most notorious incidents of the Pontiac War.

4. Columbine High School Massacre

High school seniors Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, may have not committed the deadliest school shooting in the U.S., but their killing spree at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado is considered one of the most infamous attacks in history.

It sparked numerous debates, including gun control, anti-depressant drugs and the influence social cliques, violent video games and bullying have on the mental health of high school students.

Harris and Klebold spent countless hours preparing for the events on April 20, 1999, which were documented in their "Basement Tapes." The tapes contained footage of the two boys having target practice with illegally obtained firearms, as well as a suicide message and apology to their parents.

Their ultimate goal was to be responsible for more victims than the Oklahoma City bombing, an event the boys idolized. The morning of the shootings, Harris and Klebold encountered one of their few friends Brooks Brown in the school parking lot.

Brown was one of the few students the shooters considered a friend; they told him to leave campus immediately because "something bad was about to happen."

Reports claim the boys targeted jocks, taunted people for their belief in Christianity and made jokes with each other while they killed their peers. Harris and Klebold took the lives of 13 people and injured 24.

They committed suicide in the library together.

3. UT Tower Shooting

On August 1, 1966, former Marine sharp-shooter Charles Whitman unleashed havoc on the campus of University of Texas in Austin, Texas.

Whitman positioned himself on the observation deck at the very top of the U.T. Tower; it was the perfect place for a sniper to have his pick of targets, considering you could see the entire campus from his vantage point.

He killed 14 people and wounded 31 others. Prior to his attack on campus, Whitman killed his wife and mother.

Post autopsy, it was theorized that Whitman's behavior might have been caused by a tumor found in his brain. Doctors and psychologists attribute the tumor to his impulsive, irrational behavior and his lack of a conscience.

This theory was supported by records of Whitman seeking professional help prior to the shooting for "overwhelming, violent impulses" he felt he couldn't control.

2. Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting

20-year-old Adam Peter Lanza is responsible for arguably the most senseless and brutal attack on a school in U.S. history.

On December 14, 2012 Lanza shook the town of Newtown, Connecticut when he attacked Sandy Hook Elementary School. Lanza killed his mother, before entering the school where he killed 26 people and inured two others; the majority of his victims were children aging from five to 10 years old.

He committed suicide upon completion of the attack. This shooting in particular confused both the media and authorities, because Lanza never offered a motive or reasoning behind the murder of his mother nor the horrendous mass slaying of innocent children.

1. Virginia Tech Massacre


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia came under attack on April 16, 2007. Senior student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and injured 17 more in two attacks – one in a co-ed dormitory, the other in the Engineering, Science and Mechanics building.

He is noted as committing the deadliest attack on a school in U.S. history.

Cho was previously diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder; among the tapes he personally mailed to NBC news, Cho expressed his hatred for the wealthy, compared himself to Jesus Christ and explained that he was forced to commit the mass shooting due to voices in his head.

Virginia Tech has held the number one spot as deadliest school shooting for five years.

Holocaust survivor Liviu Librescu was a professor in the Engineering, Science and Mechanics department at the school, who was famously remembered for using his body as a barricade against the door during the attack; Librescu was killed during the attack but managed to hold the door closed long enough for all of his students to escape out the window.

Cho ultimately committed suicide following the shooting.

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Gun Violence Is Real, And People Don't Come Back

The conversations of gun violence, reform, and background checks always come with some form of one-sided opinions.

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Within the firearm realm, there lies a dangerous loophole within our federal gun laws. This loophole exempts unlicensed sellers from having to perform any background check whatsoever before they sell a firearm. With the growing rate of gun violence, many are left wondering why.

The conversations of gun violence, reform, and background checks always come with some form of one-sided opinions. Many of the opinions root from morals and not factual information causing tension when the issue is brought into any conversation. Citizens have the right to guns. Therefore, there should not be any background checks to keep citizens from expressing their rights. Opposing opinions are based on the issue of how important background checks are in preventing gun violence from Americans who suffer from mental illness. Recently in New Zealand, an act of terrorism using firearms occurred. With 72 hours Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that many of the citizens have already surrendered their firearms to local police stations and new reforms were already being passed. News left many Americas wondering why new gun reforms have not been passed and what can be done to prevent another act of violence.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is well known for voicing their opinion on gun rights. The NRA is highly effective in lobbying and campaigning against any legislative proposal for the control and restriction of firearms in the country. Members of the association believe that placing restrictions on firearms will not prevent violence but would benefit others in the high-risk situation. For example, the NRA believes that the only solution to firearm attacks, such as the Orlando shooting in 2016, is to address terrorism head-on, not take away the rights from law-abiding Americans to defend themselves.

The NRA has successfully placed barriers to prevent funding to support, research, and advocate gun control. They lobbied a law known as the Dickey Amendment that prohibits the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to use research funding to perform studies on gun control. Before the reallocation law, the CDC found that gun ownership increased the risk of homicide in the home. Organizations like the NRA firmly believe in their second amendment rights. They will continue to protest and lobby against politicians who want to build restrictions on firearms.

According to a survey done by Quinnipiac University in 2018, 97% of Americans supported background checks, leaving many wondering why they are not required when purchasing a firearm. Groups, such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, advocate for more restriction on firearms. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is a group of diverse individuals that are part of different religious organizations, social justice organizations, and public health professionals. Their mission is to stop gun violence through the use of research, strategic engagement and effective political advocacy. Their main goal is stopping the NRA from promoting violence and creating a safer country for the next generations.

Yes, mental illness does appear in some mass killers, but research and evidence have suggested that violence by people who are mentally ill is rare. Those with serve mental illness are more likely to commit suicide using a firearm. Jeffrey Swanson, a psychiatrist professor at Duke University, studies violent behaviors and states that "People with personalities inclined to violence are usually obvious to their peers and coworkers and have a history of antisocial conduct, they often progress to deadly violence after committing smaller acts." People who are more inclined to perform acts of terror do not just start at committing gun homicide crimes but slowly work their way up.

Swanson conducted a study and found that 8.9% of people who reported having a gun in the home also said they engaged in violent behaviors. Anger is what drives people to commit crimes. States like California, Indiana, and Connecticut, have restricted perpetrators of less violent crimes, such as assault and battery, from buying guns. They have also temporarily taken firearms out of the hands of owners that have committed crimes until they can make a case in which they no longer pose a threat to their community.

With increasing numbers in gun violence, citizens of America want answers. Gun advocators and organizations will not stop protesting until they see an act of change in gun policy. While the opposing individuals and organizations will continue to fight for their second amendment right.

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