Photo found at www.irishtimes.com

Photograph: Michele Eve Sandberg/AFP/Getty Images

Photo found at www.irishtimes.com

This Wednesday, a true tragedy occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 17 students and staff were shot and killed. February 14th, Valentine’s Day, is supposed to be a day to celebrate love, not to mourn the death of innocent people. Many others were injured, some remain in critical condition. This is the deadliest US school shooting in 6 years, since Sandy Hook Elementary School.        

These are their names: Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque Anguiano, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Chris Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup, and Peter Wang. 17 lives lost due to this act of hate and malice. The world should not forget their names.

Nikolaus Cruz. This is the former student who took an AR-15 style weapon to shoot and kill these students, cutting their lives short. Cruz killed 3 outside of the school, pulled the fire alarm, and proceeded to fire on the fleeing students. In total, 15 were dead initially, with two others dying later in the hospital.

Here is a link to some of the videos recorded by students during the shooting. WARNING, some of the videos are graphic. It is important we included these videos in this article  because they are eye opening and capture the students’ raw reactions. When watching these, Junior Class President Ruth Haileselassie said, “when I saw the videos I felt like I was in the room with them.”  

We can’t sit around and wait for someone else to do it. It’s time for us to step up, and make that change ourselves. Call senators, call legislators, talk to the school board. Be the change that you want to see.”

— Junior Hannah Jones

This tragic mass shooting marks the 30th one this year, 18 times a fire arm has been discharged on a school campus. Two out of every five days this year a school shooting has occurred. In 2018. It has become the norm. 

One of our counselors, Mr. Reid, said, “when you consider just the sheer number of firearms in our society, and then you consider a society like Japan, Japan had one death last year from someone being shot in the entire society. That puts it in perspective for you.” This hits on an excellent point. Other countries don’t have this mass shooting epidemic. America is known for a lot of positive aspects of our country. We are also known for this. We need to look to other countries to find the solution to these senseless, numerous tragedies. 

Junior Ruth Haileselassie said, “we need to stop creating some sort of background excuse every time we have a mass shooting. The one thing that’s in common with all these shootings is the fact that a gun is involved. Not ‘he was mentally ill, he was bullied, his parents died.’ I know many people who have lost both their parents and/or their siblings, who have mental illnesses, who have been bullied, [and they] don’t go and kill a whole room full of kids.” So mental health issues are part, but not all, of the problem. Veteran English teacher, Mr. Burns said, “Mental health is an ongoing process that can take years to address. An assault weapon ban could happen in a busy afternoon.” Gun control needs to be part of the conversation.

The number of school shootings have increased throughout the years, and it’s time they come to an end. The Chieftain asked students and staff here at Wakefield what they think the solution should be; they all seemed to say the same three words: more gun control. Is more gun control the answer? Junior Hannah Jones said, “the obvious solution is to make guns less accessible. From my knowledge, all you have to do to get a gun is be 18 and you can buy one privately with no regulation, no background checks, not anything. Denial of our country’s lack of gun control and seeing all the lives lost to a gun, and continuing to ignore this problem is completely irresponsible.”

Mr. Burns added, “To me it’s kind of akin to ‘Let’s stop the AIDS epidemic by preaching celibacy!’ That doesn’t stop the problem. For the last 15 years the overwhelming majority of mass shooting have been produced with the same automatic assault rifle that is specifically designed for soldiers and SWAT teams, and the only purpose that weapon has is to kill lots of people in a very short amount of time.”

Hannah also wanted to share this message with Wakefield, “We can talk about how the system is messed up, and say that we want to fix these things, but they’re not getting fixed. We can’t sit around and wait for someone else to do it. It’s time for us to step up, and make that change ourselves. Call senators, call legislators, talk to the school board. Be the change that you want to see.”

Senior Umniya Abdu said, “I offer my condolences to families and friends, and I hope that their grieving process is eased. I also hope that this gives them a chance to realize what gun control and gun laws could do.”

Mr. Clisham’s advice for what to do now was, “Do something. Prayers and thoughts are meaningless, unless something happens.” #policyandchange

This shooting seemed to resonate more than usual with Wakefield. The students that went through this trauma are our age. We can relate with them so much. Before the shooting took place, we lived our lives in almost identical manners as teenagers in the United States. Before this occurred, we thought that this would never happen to us. Now, we aren’t so sure. 

History teacher, Mr. Keish told us his close connection. He said, “my cousin’s friend (a Wakefield graduate) has a niece who died in the shooting. She told us that she called her family while it happened, then received final word of her death around 8pm.”

Everyone is afraid to talk about it because we feel like we don’t know enough about it, but that is where we are wrong. Any talk that brings awareness to this issue is good talk. We can educate each other on what we know about it, and learn new things together. The victims of Douglas High School should never be forgotten, and hopefully, we can gain some light from this darkness.