The Santa Fe High School Shooting Is A Reminder Of Just How Much We Need To Strengthen Gun Laws

The Santa Fe High School Shooting Is A Reminder Of Just How Much We Need To Strengthen Gun Laws

Gun laws need to be reinforced, and what better time to start than right now?
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The Santa Fe high school shooting was just one of the 300 school shootings that have occurred in the United States since 2013, and it is necessary to recognize the fact that the measures that are being taken to prevent incidents like these simply don’t prove to be enough.

And now, the minds behind the violence have not been pursuing ordinary facilities to terrorize, but have found a new target — schools.

9/11 served as a wake-up call for American citizens to the threat of imminent attacks against the heartland, and what once seemed like the safest and most prosperous country in the world took a new, vulnerable light in the eyes of foreigners and Americans themselves. Even with the ample amount of time that has been granted to the American government to stop shootings and other acts of mass violence, the numbers of these horrific acts have not been going down but instead have been following an upward trajectory.

On May 18, students at the Santa Fe high school scrambled for safety subsequent to the sound of gun shots echoing through the hallways. 10 were found to be wounded and 10 were killed; of them a Pakistani foreign exchange student and a substitute teacher. As authorities searched campus to find more evidence of the shooting after its conclusion, more explosive devices were found to exist.

17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the identified shooter, was later detained by authorities on accords of capital murder and aggravated assault of a public servant. He was a typically quiet student, and some have reported to say that he was in fact helpful. He admits to killing those he didn’t like in particular and wanted to commit suicide following the shooting.

But what is most heartbreaking of all is that incidents like these are common now.

Hearing about another school shooting is plain to all of us, because on average one takes place every week. It is simply not enough to recognize patterns of shooters such as loneliness or exclusion or strengthen school safety measures in order to prevent shootings. To effectively eradicate them, we must recognize the underlying issue that is the root cause of the violence: guns.

Pagourtzis allegedly used his father’s gun and revolver to carry out the shooting, a feat he would not have been able to so easily accomplish without the use of a gun.

First, take note of the facts. America is home to about 300 million guns, more than any other country. Its gun death rates top those of almost every country — on the other end of the spectrum, Japan has less than 1 gun per 100 people and has fewer than 10 gun deaths a year for the entire nation.

Nobody is saying that guns should be banned completely — that would go against everything our country stands for, including raw freedom. Instead, stronger gun control needs to be implemented, because the fact stands that more guns equals more deaths. If guns were out of the equation, a downfall in the amount of deaths due to gun violence would definitely be seen as well. This approach would include lengthy background checks, a ban to those under 21 from buying a gun, safe storage, tighter enforcement of the law on straw purchases and ammunition checks.

While lax gun laws make it effortless for good guys to get guns, they also make it strikingly simple for bad guys to get guns.

In the “wise words” of President Trump, mass shootings have been “going on too long in our country.” So in my words, president, what exactly are you doing to stop this phenomenon?

President Trump, you receive $30 million dollars from the NRA as your personal form of hush money, but you choose to ignore the fact that disbanding the NRA will cause your country to prosper greater than ever before. So, instead of listening to an organization that will rip your country apart, listen to Paul Ryan, a member of your own party who wants to keep guns out of the wrong hands, and listen to the millions of people that want you to take action against guns and do something; anything to prevent gun violence.

As teachers, parents and peers of these shooters, let's do our part to be aware of the warning signs of someone inclined to gun violence.


Cover Image Credit: Jamal Smith / Twitter

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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An Open Letter To PETA CEO Ingrid Newkirk

For an organization whose sole purpose is to ensure the ethical treatment of animals, I have many questions.

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Dear Ms. Newkirk,

I, like you, am a firm believer in the right to compassion for all living beings around the world. Ever since converting to veganism from the omnivorous lifestyle I was raised to lead nearly six years ago, I have heavily relied on PETA.com and its affiliates for information, facts and statistics, recipe ideas, cruelty-free lifestyle selections, and activism opportunities on almost a daily basis so that I may further grow my knowledge and support for this permanent lifestyle change. When I search for new beauty or household products, clothing, shoes, and more, it is always comforting to see the "PETA-Approved Vegan" logo on the box, and I am confident in the purchases that I am making.

It was only recently that a new stream of data was brought to my attention that has altered my viewpoint of your organization and what it truly stands for, and I request that you provide the public your reasoning or justification for such acts, and any reparations that need to be made. Another lifelong vegan friend of mine recently pointed out to me a website called petakillsanimals.com where there is sizable physical legal evidence of immense animal cruelty, suffering, and murder at the hands of PETA over the last fifteen of years. Seeing as you have been the CEO of the organization for over 25 years, I figured it would be best to address you directly, seeking a response to this evidence of cruelty from the globally renowned organization that does all that it can to fight cruelty in every form.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, from 1998 to 2017, 85.2% of all dogs and cats transferred to your facility for shelter were euthanized within 24 hours of being brought to your facility. Despite your reasoning that you painlessly end the suffering of animals who would have otherwise been left to suffer anyway, the arguments and justifications that you are making mirror the arguments of the meat, dairy, poultry, and fish industries (whom you dedicate your life to combating) all too identically. Just as PETA fights to end society's blasé attitude toward animal cruelty and murder, your attempt at claiming that the way you euthanize the animals in your facility is "better", renders one of PETA's greatest catchphrases, essentially, worthless: "There is no such thing as humane murder".

Similarly, after wrongfully luring a family pet off its porch in 2014, PETA took the pet from its owner's property and euthanized it, bringing the dog's owners to file a lawsuit with your organization that was just settled in 2017, where PETA was forced to pay the family nearly $50,000 dollars in damages. Finally, terror is not ever a justifiable option to invoke change, so why are you personally and professionally so aligned with the Animal Liberation Front, a terrorist organization responsible for arson, extensive property damage, and assault? Why have you donated nearly $80,000 to groups that promote harming life in order to save a life?

Ridding the world of violence with more violence has never, does not, and will never work, so if I can request only one thing from you in this letter, even if you refuse to answer my other questions, it is this: please take the funds that are allocated towards extensive euthanasia drugs and services used by and in your facility, and put them toward building either another building to house more animals if physical space is a concern, for providing food and more extensive adoption services for these animals, or donate them to a true no-kill animal-rights organization like Best Friends Animal Society, Underdog Rescue, or any others provided on this list.

In this letter, my intention was neither to attack nor provoke you in an inflammatory manner, but rather to merely seek truth from an organization that I once so dearly respected and wish to one day respect again in the same manner. I thank you for your time, and for all of the lives that you have saved in between.

Sincerely,

An Animal Lover & Ally

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