What Leading A Gun Control Walkout Taught Me About How The American Media Works

Last Year, I Led A Gun Control Walkout And Learned Something About America's Media

People listened to the hyper-focused media instead of people who participated.

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bmscott
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A year ago around this time, I hosted a walkout and demonstration at my high school. It was on March 14, 2018, a month after the Parkland shooting had happened and 17 people had their lives violently stolen from them. Kids like you and I and educators that were committed to more than teaching, but also the livelihoods of their students. These people were murdered in cold blood for such an unexplained reason.

These shootings continue to occur all over.

Since the Parkland shooting that my classmates and I walked out for happened, a school shooting has happened almost every 12 days. A school shooting in America happens almost once every two weeks — let that sink in for a moment. A gun is violently brought onto a campus that is supposed to be a safe environment for kids to learn. Instead, that place has been turned into something scary and evil because of these weapons being brought in and utilized around the country. Kids all around the world are scared of the ultimate what-if: "What if I'm in school and there's a shooting?"

I know in high school, my peers and I talked about it fearfully very often. It's a scary reality that this generation of teens has to face.

At the walkout, we didn't discuss gun control but rather how to actively fix a problem that goes beyond government interference. A problem that goes beyond legislation and instead how people deal with each other in daily life. Nowadays, we seem to be in constant defense mode. Everything offends someone or triggers someone. At the walkout, we talked about how to be kind to one another and how we thought we could fix this problem with our own actions and not those of the government.

Obviously, this walkout was done at a very controversial time in the country, which led to a whole lot of backlash from peers and community members.

While there was an overwhelming amount of support that filled my heart, there was a lot of hate that followed. There were people that assumed we hosted a walkout only to skip class (keep in mind some of the brightest minds at my high school attend the walkout) and a debilitating amount of people that criticized the school for allowing students to demonstrate for gun control. But, the reality was that gun control was never discussed at the walkout. Here's the real problem: People assumed instead of listening.

People listened to the hyper-focused media instead of people who participated.

The problem with American society is we are so quick to assume. Just like people were quick to assume that my peers and I huffed and puffed about gun bans and gun control; meanwhile, none of that was discussed at the walkout that I hosted. The problem that has persisted in America is that the media hyper-focuses on one major travesty at a time, but then it quickly changes its scope with the American people following suit.

That's the problem we're facing America.

Many like to say that news is twisted and fake, but the real problem with the news is that it isn't thorough. The real problem is that we follow issues for limited amounts of time because the media only follows these issues for limited amounts of time. With this, I bet you didn't know that a school shooting happens every 12 days here in America. Instead, we're focused on "Trump said this and Trump said that."

So, America, here is my proposition to you: Choose the issues that you think need a resolution or need to be addressed in full heart. Don't bandwagon along with the media. If impeaching Trump is your focus, follow it. If gun control is your focus, follow it. Whatever it may be on whatever side of the political spectrum, follow it. Without some commitment and passion, our democracy is doomed.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Having Guns Around Doesn't Make Me Feel Safe

Officials want to have laws that put guns in every place that I am supposed to feel safe, and yet, in every place there is a gun, I feel scared.

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According to SB 7030 (which must be passed by the House to be written into law), Florida teachers will be able to carry firearms under the "Armed Guardians" program. Teachers must undergo a psychological evaluation and training program to be able to carry their gun and districts must approve the program to introduce the program to the teachers, staff, students, and parents.

SB 7030 was introduced after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February of last year and had a total of twenty-two to seventeen votes to pass to the House. It would offered in applicable school districts and teachers would volunteer to take part in the program (including evaluations and training).

Although there has been eight school shootings since January 1, 2019, and there were twenty-four school shootings in 2018 (328 mass shootings total - almost one every day of the year) and according to the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, there were 94 school shootings involving guns - which is an increase of 59% since 2006 and a record high since 1970.

Officials want to have laws that put guns in every place that I am supposed to feel safe, and yet, in every place, there is a gun, I feel scared.

Elementary school is when I started learning about Code Red drills. In fifth grade, I remember hearing the principal announce a code red, and every child in my class rushing to the back of the classroom, voices completely silent. Soon, every drill was standard - once a month: fire drill, code red, lock-downs - and you don't think much of the threats that are "supposedly" in place.

Sandy Hook is the first time that I felt threatened in a school. In 2012, I was in eighth grade, halfway through the year and getting ready to move into high school - it's scary enough to be a freshman, I didn't think that this was something I would have to be worried about.

Our classrooms had the news on immediately - and I remember not learning much in history that morning, because really, I was watching history happen, and I would remember it. I remember everyone being silent, as every hour more children were being put into the hospital - or worse, their faces were on the television because their lives were lost to a someone with a gun. I remember someone saying, "Our parents saw Columbine happen, and now we're watching Sandy Hook. Kids are going to have this in a history book."

Kids are going to have this in a history book.

I sat in a classroom and watched twenty-six partners, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, learn that their spouse, their six and seven-year-old children had died by a human being with a rifle.

In my freshman year of college, a concert in Las Vegas became the deadliest mass shootings in United States history.

In my freshman year of college, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a high school three hours away from Orlando, became the place of one of the deadliest school shootings in United States history.

Seventeen students and faculty killed.

I have a younger brother. He's seventeen. He's going to be a senior in high school this year.

I don't understand how we are continuing to have this conversation.

I don't understand how after children are being murdered, there is no discussion on how to make gun control a priority.

I don't understand how the government can claim themselves to be "pro-life" when they aren't saving the lives that are going to be the future of this country that everyone believes to be so great.

I don't understand how abortions are becoming illegal faster than an assault rifle.

I am sick of this. I am sick of having to fight with adults about how a gun, how an automatic weapon that can kill dozens of innocent children and adults in minutes is not banned.

I don't feel safe. I don't feel secure.

I don't feel like my professor is going to be able to kill an armed shooter in a nanosecond when they start shooting in a classroom.

I don't feel like one training is going to be enough.

I don't feel like psychological testing is enough.

I. Don't. Feel. Safe.

I don't care about how much you need a gun. I don't care how you think that the Constitution is right.

THE CONSTITUTION WAS WRITTEN BY MEN THAT HAD TO RELOAD THEIR GUNS WITH EVERY BULLET. THEY DIDN'T HAVE BUMP-STOCKS THAT ALLOW A SEMI-AUTOMATIC TO BECOME AN AUTOMATIC AND MURDER FIFTY-EIGHT PEOPLE IN THE MIDDLE OF A CONCERT.

I, literally, don't care.

I refuse to be in a classroom where there are guns. I refuse to be in a place where any individual can carry a gun, with the possibility that there was no psychological testing and safety training. I refuse to be in a society where mass shootings have become so normal, that we are almost immune to seeing that there was an act of gun violence anywhere.

Only mass shootings in schools, religious sanctuaries, and public places are publicly announced, too.

Our society's media sources don't discuss how many suicides are completed by guns. Outlets don't discuss how easy it is for someone that is mentally unstable to access and buy firearms.

Once a mass shooting occurs, everyone wants to blame the mental illness and create such a stigma around mental health that you can't even mark down that you have a mental illness without "warning" employers of possible instability.

STOP USING MENTAL ILLNESS AS AN EXCUSE FOR SICK AND TWISTED INDIVIDUALS TO USE WEAPONS AND KILL PEOPLE.

NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT THIS.

I don't care what you think the Second Amendment is trying to say.

It's outdated. It's an excuse to continue using weapons that are created for mass destruction and shouldn't be in an environment that is meant to be a safe space.

We can agree. We can disagree. However, I think that everyone should come to a common ground in believing that there is something wrong with the system. How is there ever an opportunity for someone to use a semi-automatic rifle? How is there ever use for a rifle that can kill dozens of individuals - children - at a time?

Don't have an answer?

Good. It's because there isn't one.

Our government uses the Constitution as an excuse to have ugly behavior. Our government claims to be "pro-life" but won't take away the thing that kills thousands of people every year. Our government claims to have the interest of the people but takes no precaution to listen to what the people want.

I'm scared of guns. I'm scared of people who have guns. I don't feel safe where there are guns around.

Guns don't and won't ever make me feel safe.

One could hope that someone is finally going to realize that.

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