Ashley

It happened again.

ANOTHER school shooting. 

ANOTHER mass of students who will not see high school graduation. 

ANOTHER flock of young students experiencing fear they should never know. This is the 27th school shooting just this year.

After Sandy Hook, we vowed to #NeverForget. We send our thoughts and prayers after each shooting, but after some time, we bury them in our minds...only to dig them back up when another school shooting happens. 

Nothing ever changes.

But if you’re a “solution-driven” mind like me, you can clearly see that there is some sort of problem here. Now, of course, everyone has opinions on what this problem is, exactly. And none of them are wrong.

Some will say it’s a gun control problem. And sure, that’s a factor. I mean, why should a freshly 18-year-old be legally allowed to purchase two AR-15 rifles without any eyebrows raised? If Salvador Ramos wasn’t able to purchase those weapons and immediately recieve them, Uvalde would still be known as the birthplace of “alright, alright, alright” Matthew McConaughey.

Don’t get me wrong here. I do believe guns are very valuable tools in the hands of responsible, law-abinding citizens. But they can also be very dangerous tools when they fall into the wrong hands. A little more restriction, such as a waiting period, a mandatory course on detailed responsible gun ownership, or more extensive background checks, for assault rifle-style weapons will undoubtedly save some lives, even if responsible gun owners will be mildly incovenienced. Buying an assault rifle is a big deal, so it should be treated as such.

Some will also say that it’s because of mental health issues. And that is a completely reasonable point. Arguably, no one with a completely healthy mind could commit these atrocities.

The best way to combat this would be increasing access to affordable mental health resources, especially for the lower-middle class who are in that awkward stage of making too much to qualify for financial assistance but making too little to be able to pay everything themselves. In the recent years, online therapy has become accessible, and it’s a wonderful option for those with packed schedules. But, if you do not have decent health insurance, it gets expensive fast. In-person therapy options at sliding-scale clinics are also a great option, but they are not as accessible. Even if you manage to clear a space in your schedule for regular sessions, many therapists at sliding-scale clinics are overwhelmed with patients and have very limited availability.

But by doing this, we also have to be careful not to increase the stigma surrounding mental health. Not every person battling mental illness is dangerous. But mental illness, especially in severe cases, can contribute to a person deciding to commit crimes of this nature.

Some also insist that it is a school security issue, and they are also correct. Ramos went into Robb Elementary because of a door that was propped open. If that door was locked, as it should have been, Ramos would have had a much more difficult time getting into the building, which would have also given the policemen chasing him more time to intercept.

Now, many (if not most) schools in Texas have a school resource officer on campus at all times. And that is a great place to start.

Many support the idea of allowing teachers to conceal carry on campus. It’s certainly not a bad idea, but it’s not necessarily a great one either. Regularly having students around a gun, particularly students who are not educated in gun safety, adds to the risk of accidents...accidents that are deadly. For campuses that have trouble maintaining discipline, having weapons around can quickly escalate a situation. But like I said, I believe it is not a bad idea, but it needs some tweaking before it becomes a policy.

Regardless of what you believe the issue really is here, some sort of change needs to be made, period. The truth is, if lawmakers on both sides could agree on providing a resolution for any of these root causes, it would be a huge step in solving the American-unique epidemic of mass shootings. It’s beyond time for change to be made.

Ashley Wilkinson is the sports reporter for The Henderson News. Her email is <sports@thehendersonnews.com>.©2021, Henderson Newspapers Inc.

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