Gun Violence in and around America’s places of learning: Views and insights from the Titan Times


Kaylan Wallen, Writer

This year alone, there have been eighteen incidents involving firearms in and around schools across the United States within the first 45 days of 2018. For some the focus is on gun control and for others it’s about mental health issues with both sides of the political spectrum pushing a political agenda and making empty promises, but what we’re forgetting is how we got to this point. No one just wakes up and decides to shoot up a school or fire a firearm on or around campus, and though it’s happening more and more we need to focus on how to prevent it, starting with the students. These firearm incidents haven’t been isolated, they’re spread out and random, sometimes within the same day.

Though it’s heartbreaking to witness and see all over the news, we are forgetting that there are warning signs as well as ways to protect ourselves. In today’s society we’re so wrapped up in our phones and personal lives that we forget about the world around us. Such as the kid who ‘jokingly’ said he wants to shoot up the school or even the kid making a gun out of his hand and pointing it at his friend. These are things we see everyday but we don’t say anything about it because that’s just John being John. Sometimes we even go as far as to say “if anyone is to shoot up the school it would be that kid over there.”, often times pointing to the ‘weird’ kid in the corner who always seems angry. Yet, when we watch the news and hear people talk about the shooter it was a friend, a partner from a group project, or even a sibling. More times than not it’s an accidental misfire and no one is injured. Still, the truth is you never know who it’s going to be and that can be frightening, but we can take precautions and be aware.

 We interviewed a few teachers to get a sense of what they think can be done:

Mr. Wagner (English): “We probably need to do some more emergency response reform, in which we put the kind of time and dedication we put into fire drills in to things like violent acts which have become more common.”

Mr. Gray: “As a school system we can’t do anything. Let’s be honest we live in a society where we can’t screen you for mental illness, we can’t do background checks, we can’t look for criminal backgrounds or any record of violence, abuse, or anything that would disqualify you; where a rational person might say that person probably shouldn’t have a gun. We can’t ask that question, so given that constraint and the fact that any person at any point and time with a gun could come and shoot up a school, I mean what are you going to do? I had a conversation with my students today, you know I took the last five minutes of every class and said “Look we have to talk about Florida, and if something like this happens this is what we’re going to do.” There’s nothing we can do proactively to prevent this from happening. There are too many guns out there, it’s too easy to get your hands on them. So I have to prepare for a reaction. Society at large has grown numb to it. There’s no shock anymore, there have been eighteen school shootings and we’re only forty- five days into the year. We have to get congress to do something about it, but the harsh reality is they’re probably not.”

Our take, here at the Titan Times, is that we can’t rely on our elected leaders to take care of us but we can take steps, as a school community, to try to be more proactive. It really does start with us as students. If you see something say something. Some kids will say they don’t want to be a snitch, but the fact is reporting a valid concern about the mental health of a fellow student is not ‘snitching’. Any student who wishes to report on anything, from illegal activity to the prospect of a school shooting will be granted anonymity. This means, the administrators or teachers will not tell anybody who gave them the information. If you have concerns about a fellow Titan, talk to a trusted teacher, talk to your parents, talk to an administrator or guidance counselor; seek out an adult in your life that you trust and share your concerns about anything that seems out of the ordinary. And, if you, as a young person, are struggling with emotional difficulties, you are not alone, there are people all over this building who are here for you, to listen, to advise, and to get you help if that is something you need. 

We are all One team, One Titan, we are a community and, despite the fact that we are all different and we all have different friends, and lives, and dreams, we are all here everyday together. Don’t let Tuscarora become another statistic. If we all work together, keep our eyes open and look out for each other, we can feel safe each day when we walk into our building.