Claremont High School students want action, change
CHS speaks out
Did you know that the novel To Kill A Mockingbird is banned in a school in Biloxi, Mississippi? Did you also know that Mississippi is one of the 11 states in America where one can carry a concealed firearm without a state-issued concealed carry permit? It sounds bizarre.
With these statistics, we need to realize that the school shootings happening continuously are not just because of mental health issues. It is a gun issue. The shooter at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School would not have been able to kill 17 citizens with a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird in his hand.
To our political figures sitting comfortably in their seats in Congress or the White House, the students, the future generation of America, are rising up and voicing our opinions now.
You can try to repress us and dismiss us with your criticism of, “You’re too young to understand politics,” but that won’t work anymore. There are school walkouts happening at this moment, students creating organizations to talk about gun control laws and calling out our political leaders. Our students are starting a revolution and leading this nation on the path to justice.
I understand that our representatives handed out their usual “condolences and prayers” after the vicious cycle of school shootings. Currently, the nation is in the stage where silence hangs in the air, while we wait for another family to bury their child. Not this time.
Your condolences and prayers don’t justify the lives that were lost. Your condolences and prayers don’t justify the fact that our president received $30 million from the National Rifle Association. Your condolences and prayers don’t justify the fact that our president repealed an Obama-era regulation that would have prevented 75,000 people with mental disorders from purchasing a firearm, which would have made it harder for the Florida school shooter to obtain a gun.
We don’t need your meaningless condolences and prayers. We need action.
What are we doing as citizens of Claremont? The students and staff are taking action at Claremont High School by broadcasting awareness, holding informative meetings and having events to educate students.
Although our actions are not being broadcast nationwide, we are taking necessary steps in addressing the problem and using our voices with other students across the nation. But this is not enough. One main issue in the schools is the lack of preparation. Until Congress takes action, we need to prepare and protect our vulnerable children.
We have frequent earthquake or fire drills, but we have a huge lack of lockdown drills. After the shooting at Florida, a few students at Claremont High confessed that we do not possess enough information to know how to deal in a shooting situation.
Let’s choose to not be in this vicious cycle. Let’s choose to utilize our voices. Let’s choose to prepare. Let’s choose the path of action.
Claremont High School junior
New fears for students
Challenging tests, unrelenting peer pressure and the demanding questions regarding college and what you want to do with your life—these are the reasons why students today, as well as those in the past, are afraid of going to school.
However, in the past decade or so, a new fear has been instilled in students along with those previously mentioned. School shootings.
Hearing the first shots being fired and being absolutely clueless on how to react because your school has yet to put active shooter drills on the agenda. Running into the nearest cabinet that you had never even opened before. In fact, you often forgot that it was there. Now it was your lifesaver, its squeaky, wooden doors being the only thing between you and an AR 15 assault rifle if the shooter happened to break down the door that your teacher was currently barricading with chairs and desks.
The thought of not knowing whether or not you will ever be able to hug your parents again. Regretting that you took your mother’s goodbye kiss for granted when you were rushing out the front door this morning in hopes of meeting up with your friends before the first bell rang. You then think about these friends.
Where were they being forced to hide? Or worse, did they even have a hiding spot? Were they trapped in the hallway, unable to find safety in any of the classrooms because the people inside did not know whether or not the one knocking was the shooter? You then wonder who is the shooter. Which one of your peers made the decision to come to school armed with a gun? Did they also disregard their mother’s kiss before leaving the house, knowing full well that that could have been their last encounter with the woman who brought them into this world?
This world that through their eyes was such a disgusting place that they felt like they were doing a favor by taking it away from fellow students and staff members. It is disgusting. There is so much good in this world. The sense of accomplishment when you achieve that not too hot but not too cold temperature in your morning cup of coffee, the satisfaction that comes with opening up a book to the exact page that you wanted, the warm, cozy feeling of putting on clothes that just came out of the dryer. The little things. Why would someone want to take it away?
You finally hear the ambulance and police sirens after what seems like hours. Silent, unnerving and awful hours. You know that these memories will never leave you, will hang onto you like your little cousin hangs onto your uncle’s leg while sitting on his foot. The classroom door caves in. You peek through the sliver of space between the cabinet’s door and its wall. A policeman walk in. Yes! Yes! We are safe! These reassuring thoughts ease your mind, you let out a deep breath that has been bottled up in your chest ever since you heard the first gunshot. You continue looking at the policeman and notice that he is carrying a gun. No, no, no, no. It can’t be. Policemen carry guns too. Right? RIGHT?
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard adults say that kids today have it easy. However, I can tell you that along with laptop computers, the newest smartphones and the fastest cars, there is fear. Fear that grows like a weed with each new school shooting. Fear that you hide away in hopes of keeping your parents’ worrying to a minimum. Fear that will never leave until something is done about gun control in this country.
Claremont High School junior
We need change
February 14, 2018—a day to celebrate love and full hearts—turned into a day that students such as Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky and Jaclyn Corin had to hide for survival as 17 of their classmates and teachers were slaughtered by an AR-15.
The assailant was Nikolas Cruz; 19 years old and a former student of Stoneman Douglas High School. Earlier that year he had purchased an AR-15 at Sunrise Tactical Supply. The state law says that under federal law, you must also be 21 to buy a handgun from a firearms dealer. But 18 year olds can buy semiautomatic rifles. Change needs to happen.
What kind of state law would put this into motion? Why would an assault rifle, which can disperse 30 rounds per magazine, be easier to purchase at an earlier age than a handgun, which can give out an average of 20 rounds be purchased at 21 years of age? Stricter laws need to be passed across the country by Congress.
How many more shootings will occur until Congress makes a change? The most recent tragedy people remember happened on October 1, 2017 when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock used an AR-15 and sprayed gunfire on a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, killing 58 people and injuring almost 500. Change needs to happen.
People in the past have wanted change to gun laws but haven’t taken an effective stand to follow through at the voting booth. We have been silent since ARs have been manufactured without a thorough background check to determine not only if they can purchase one based on their criminal records, but new laws need to be passed where they check your mental state on a regular basis. Yet nothing has happened and just this year 18 school shootings have occurred.
America, you need to change.
By having this new law that thoroughly checks if gun owners are mentally stable and will not wreak harm with these weapons that are meant only for mass destruction will by far reduce the number of school shootings and mass killings in general. 235 mass killings, many of which were carried out with firearms, and 22 percent of the perpetrators could be considered mentally ill.
America, we cannot stand by and let another school shooting happen. How many more students have to die until Congress will make changes?
Eighteen school shooting this year should’ve opened the eyes of Congress to make drastic changes, yet nothing has happened and we have allowed on an average three school shootings per week. America, you need to change.
Claremont High School
My name is Cynthia Yang and I am currently a junior at Claremont High School. As you know, this month students participated in a walkout to honor the lives of 17 students that were lost on Valentines Day.
The Parkland school shooting has been a topic discussed over and over in the past month and you may feel it’s getting “old.” Although the movement and the controversy have been brought up repeatedly, I’m sure you'll agree that the safety and opinions of people all across the nation will and should stay relevant.
I believe many students at Claremont High School like me have written emails to local newspapers like the Claremont COURIER, but I would like to send my statement to you to consider for publication. Many perspectives have arisen in the wake of the shooting, but I believe the opinions of students like me are different, as students were the victims of the horrific incident.
Please consider the publication of the following message, and/or those coming from other students regarding this topic. Although it occurred over a month ago, the movement and the need for safety will remain a relevant and pressing issue.
In school, they teach us a lot of things. From solving indefinite integrals in calculus to analyzing the motives of Germany during World War II in history, you could say high school students really learn it all. But we mustn't forget the basics in elementary school—like to stand in a single file line, sit criss-cross applesauce and recite the pledge of allegiance. We learned what America stood for: that we valued life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and that we were an indivisible nation with justice for all.
As I grew up and became more aware of the political and social situation of our nation, I became exposed to the inequalities faced by underrepresented minorities, the violence in our society, and the complex world of political turmoil. Amidst all the injustices, one question arose—is this all? Our country is supposed to stand for unity, hope, and the unalienable right to life. But is this all it has come down to? Call me a pessimist, but I cannot find any light through the darkness that has impeded our nation’s progress towards those principles.
Why have school shootings become so embedded into American “culture” that I was not surprised when I heard the news of the Parkland school shooting? Even if something has become so routine it doesn’t make it right. Including all US school shootings regardless of death rate, the number stands at 290 since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012.
According to the Guardian, there have been 29.7 homicides by firearm per one million people in the US. These numbers alone illustrate the catastrophe that exists in our society today. There have been 18 school shootings in the first 43 days of this new year. While these numbers may overwhelm you and me, they do not overwhelm our government.
America is composed of diverse political parties, but these different groups must agree on one thing: that the lives of our children are the future of our country. Congress and the president’s response surely do not show that.
As POTUS, Donald Trump holds responsibility for a bright future, even claiming that he will “make America great again.” How does he plan to do that if he doesn’t do something about this devastating problem that is plaguing our nation? How does he plan to create a great country if his initial response is to blame the Parkland school shooting on Russia?
How do political leaders express their condolences for these victims if they continue to accept funds from the NRA? These are questions that cannot be answered unless we do something. Since Congress isn’t budging, it becomes more than necessary for all students, teachers, parents, brothers, sisters, people of the United States to unite together and stand up.
Change is originated from a single spark. As that spark bursts into a flame, it will result in a movement that forces the government to succumb to the public’s forces. If this incident has still not moved you, think about yourself. Think about your sons, daughters, mothers and fathers. Remember that the lack of gun control not only contributes to school shootings but any shooting. The victims are everyone.
If we unite together and stand up, change will and must occur. This is our chance to make America stand for everything that I was taught it was. It’s our chance to provide justice for the victims. It’s our chance to prove that America does really stand for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Claremont High School
What can we do? Is there anything we can do? It seems as if we have done nothing to address the problem of school shootings in America. The idleness of our Congress, the influence of the NRA, and the easy access to firearms are problems that have remained unchanged over the last few years. It’s time for that to change.
Recently, there was a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 innocent people were murdered on Valentine’s Day.
And once again, Congress failed to act. They plan to do what they have always done in response to shootings: wait it out. They intend to wait for us to forget about what happened on that day; to wait for us to neglect those 17 lives lost; and to wait for us to abandon those demands for heavier gun restrictions. The NRA has these congressmen in a headlock. It is not that the NRA is forcing Congress to act according to their desires, it is that Congress chooses to play the puppet in fear of losing a big portion of their salary. To them, money outweighs the safety of others. As a result, we do not see any major improvement on the legislative side of things. It is evident that the majority of adults today have failed to act in order to save their children’s lives.
The problem with society today is that we have allowed school shootings to become a part of everyday life. Some might just call it “another one,” due to the frequency of these disasters. In 2018, there have been 18 school shootings in the United States alone, compared to the 18 school shootings in the world for the last 20 years, according to Jeff Greenfield, a TV journalist and author.
There is the usual searching of lost ones, grieving for those gone, condemning of the nation’s gun laws and cries of anger toward the government after each of these unspeakable mass shootings. Then, the anger subsides and everything returns to normal, only to have it all come roaring back in the next shooting. And the next. And the next one after that. Meanwhile, nothing has been done! The tragedy repeats itself and, as a society, we fail to change.
So what is the solution to the problem at hand? How can we do something about the situation to mitigate the potential threats and danger? The answer is simple: we do not let it die out. We do not let these calls for reform sputter and disappear. We do not play along with Congress’ game, hoping that we will just forget about what happened to our fellow citizens.
I urge you to become an active part of this movement that is beginning to take shape. At first you might be nervous or a bit scared, and to be quite frank, so was I. However, you will find that a multitude of people around the nation are rising up to protest and speak out against this wrong. Stand up and don’t stand by.
Claremont High School Student
To anyone who has stood by
Prayers and condolences, prayers and condolences. I ask you when will we take action and actually do something so we never have to say “prayers and condolences” ever again?
I am a believer of being empathetic and keeping others in ones thoughts, but I also believe that prayers and condolences are not enough. I am not part of the government, nor do I have any political influence. However, I am a student—a student who wants to feel safe at school; a student who will not sit down and pretend everything is okay. The thing is the students are NOT the ones who need to change, because we are not the problem.
I have to accept that there are 17 more victims of a senseless tragedy, and that breaks my heart. But I will NOT accept the fact that I have to think what I would do if a gunman ever came into my second period. I will NOT accept that I live in a world where I have to watch an active shooter drill video, and I will NOT accept the fact that we have a vigil held every other week for fellow fallen students.
Now I am not oblivious to how our government works and I know that there are two very different political parties that very rarely get along. I also know that children are dying almost every day from problems that we can easily fix. I want to emphasize that we have done ABSOLUETLY NOTHING to prevent this.
We stood by and watched when 26 innocent children died. We swept it under the carpet when 14 people died just a couple cities over in San Bernandino. I have had enough prayers and condolences, because without action, those words, they mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
We have grieved for too long, and I have had enough of doing absolutely nothing. I may not have any political power, but I do have a voice and I demand to be heard.
I am not demanding change because I want to infringe on your second amendment rights, I am demanding change because just one week ago 17 innocent children and teachers were murdered. Their life was so suddenly taken away from us and since they can’t speak about this issue, who will? This is not another school shooting where we talk about it for a day and then pretend it never happened.
Because guess what? It did happen, and it will happen again. So I am begging you, stop standing by and blaming one another for a problem we all have.
Democrat, Republican, black, white, male, female, straight, gay, student, teacher—HUMAN is what we all are and EACH OTHER is what we need to protect.
Claremont High School junior
A word against gun violence
More Americans are killed by fellow citizens armed with guns than in any other advanced country in the world. This quote by Peter Bergen, a National security Analyst for CNN, says it all so clearly. So why is it that people can’t wake up, can’t stand up and keep standing by? Is it fear, money, morals? Mental health. This seems to be the go-to excuse, response, explanation.
People are still blaming others instead of themselves; they won’t face reality or facts. Mental health is part of the explanation, it is a contribution to the problem, but it isn’t the only thing. Gun violence is a result of guns. Guns have a sole purpose: to kill. So many have died in shootings that wouldn’t happen if there were no guns.
Sadly, this is the United States, and people defend the right of guns before rights of social and gender equalities, before rights of privacy, and so many others. It is impossible to remove guns completely, but any law or restraints put in place would make such a difference. Making guns less accessible would reduce gun violence. Furthermore, selling or using semi-automatic weapons should be completely illegal, as they are at the source of most shootings, and do not have any other good use for them.
Guns are creators of destruction, hate, pain and death. They do not bring about anything positive, and people who think they will be safer if they have guns are being delusional. The amount of people who successfully defend themselves because they have their personal guns is minimal, especially compared to other statistics.
The Los Angeles Times states: “In 2012, there were 1.2 million violent crimes, defined as murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Or, put another way, 1.2 million scenarios in which there was potential for someone to kill in self-defense. That’s a ratio of one justifiable homicide for every 896 guns put in the hands of criminals. The ratio for 2012, per the Violence Policy Center, was one justifiable killing for every 32 murders, suicides (20,666 suicides with guns) or accidental deaths (548 fatal unintentional shootings).”
This shows that even when there is a situation where self-defense with a gun could be present, it isn’t acted upon. Instead, there are many accidental deaths, and even more suicides.
Guns are dangerous and deadly, and yes, some mentally challenged people get a hold of them and shoot up a school, but sometimes it isn’t all about the shooter, but the gun itself. Help should be given to mentally ill individuals, but amping up gun laws should be a priority as well. Preparing students for a shooting is helpful, but the government should be taking precautions to prevent that from happening.
Anything done at this point, apart from increasing the numbers of guns (for example teachers having guns), would be helpful. People are tired of hearing the government’s condolences towards dead individuals and students. People need action and change. Stand up, don’t stand by.
Claremont High School
Wake Up, Listen up
How did we get to this point? Look around. Are you making the efforts needed to help, better, or improve the tragedies in this absurd world? We citizens all have the right to speak freely, publicly, and openly. We all have a voice, an impact, and an influence on others. We need to have compassion and help those innocent high school students, loving faculty, and broken world a favor by spreading awareness, speaking up, and standing up for what we believe must change. We have to hear each other out, we have to wake up, and we have to unite as students, as a community, and as a nation. Hear us out.
Imagine a world in which high school students are afraid, terrified, and worried to go to school—place where their focus should be on their education. That is our “new America.” This is what the US has turned into. It is devastatingly terrible and heartbreakingly wrong that this is the way in which American teenage life has begun to adapt to. This is absurd; this is heartbreaking. This should never become normal in this “new America” or in any place on Earth. We cannot accept this any longer, we cannot allow this to continue any further, and we cannot forget about this. Listen to us.
The number of innocent people who have been murdered due to gun shootings in unbelievable. There is so much hate and pain in the world. We need to show more love. We need to care for one another, look out for others, and we have to empathize with each other. It starts at school. We need to be taught how to put others first, how to respect everyone, and how to treat everyone kindly. We need better role models and we need to be loving. We need to further our understanding on mental health and we must reach out to those who are the most hurt. Any act of kindness could change a person’s whole outlook or entire day, and that speck of kindness then spreads. We have to put more love and positive energy into the atmosphere. We must. And that, we all can do.
When it comes down to it, aren’t children’s lives and lives in general, the most important, as opposed to owning guns? Isn't that a common consensus among us all? Then why are we not altering these laws, why are we allowing these slaughter machines in the hands of the irresponsible—of the unaware.
Without that gun, these 17 lives taken away from us in the Parkland Florida shooting would still be here. They would still be able to spend their lunches eating with their friends, talking about their gifts they got on Valentines Day. They would be going home to their parents and siblings excited to have dinner together and chat about their day. They would able to wake up the next morning and continue living their life. But that didn't happen. Because of a gun. Something we could have prevented, something we could have reduced long ago with the beginnings of Sandy Hook. Yet we let it pass, we forget, we accept the tragic evils. Not anymore. The resolution to the arguments of whether or not we need stricter gun control laws should be unquestionable. We do. Congress, take action.
If you don’t understand why after all that has happened, after all that has been said, and after all that has been shared, then keep reading. Imagine this. It is a sunny, yet breezy day filled with love. Your son, daughter, friend or any loved one in your life is ecstatic to go to school to receive or give a Valentine’s gift to the ones they care for and love. Seeing this brings an indescribable happiness and an immense joy that nothing else could replace. You say goodbye and that you love them as they head off to school. This is your last day seeing them.
You get a phone call later in the day, and you find out that your loved one is dead. Imagine. You didn’t see that coming and neither did they. Those friends, families, and communities are forever scarred. This tragedy will linger in their broken hearts and will be unforgettable in their minds forever. Imagine. Open your eyes. It is in the media, all over the news, and everywhere they go they hear about this. Imagine. This moment will never dissipate from your mind or from anyone else’s—and it can’t. This is not something people can easily move on from or get over. Understand.
This is not unfixable. We can reduce this and we can attempt to prevent this but Congress needs to act. They need to act now. We must never silence our powerful, meaningful, and impactful voices. Especially us teenagers. Our voices have never been so strong as they are right now.
So I ask you to picture yourself in the lives of the families and friends who have had to experience this tragic event, think of how they feel, and realize that this will continue if nothing is done about it. It can happen to anyone.
And to all of the people whose hearts are stung with sorrow and despair, I say to you—we will get through these devastating times by looking out for one another, we will be heard by coming together as one, and we will make the desperately needed change in the world by never giving up, never losing hope, and never losing faith. Thank you for time and for listening.
Celeste De La O
Claremont High School
Let’s be the generation
As you all know, another school shooting has happened in the United States where 17 lives were lost, and many more destroyed and saddened. This is the 18th school shooting since the beginning of 2018, a total of about two to three months. The scary thing is that we have just gotten used to seeing these stories on the news and social media. Of course we find it tragic and sad, but it’s a phase that we seem to get through quickly if we are personally unaffected.
This can’t continue to be the case in our country. We all agree that no lives should be taken out of malicious and outright evil conduct, but this is not so simple. The biggest concern at the moment is over gun violence, and there seems to be only two extremes: keeping the guns or getting rid of them. With that in mind, we realize that we can’t get rid of guns unless enough people agree to it. Personally, I feel like I am trapped. I don’t like guns or want to see anymore school shootings or hurt families, but realistically I don’t think guns can magically go away or disappear.
At the same time, as a high school student, I feel like out of all the things I should be worried about, our school being shot up should not be one of them. So now what? What can we do? Do adults value guns more than us? Honestly I don’t know these answers, and I don’t have a permanent solution, but I know I’m tired of feeling helpless.
As teenagers and students we need to acknowledge the voice we all have inside ourselves and raise it. It could be done in different ways, such as signing a petition to support gun restrictions or simply just showing more empathy towards each other and getting people the help that they need instead of bullying them. We need to try and do what we can to raise attention for this matter to ensure that it won’t be let go and forgotten. It can’t be.
I am obviously not an expert of any kind of the topic. I hope that I never have to be. I don’t know everything about guns and regulations either. But I do know a few things about what I want our future to look like. I, like many others, never want to be in a situation like this. I want this to be the beginning of the end for school shootings. I want to live in a world where I can go to school and feel completely safe. I want to live in a time where mental health is addressed and not ignored. I want to not have to practice so many lock-down drills because it won’t be necessary. I just want this nightmare to go away.
So to all students and kids my age, please use the voice you were given. It feels so scary that we have to step in, but these steps will add up and spark change among our society. I was nervous just writing this, but I know that my contribution is for a greater cause. We need to stay strong for our friends, families, and communities. Let’s act and respond to this situation the way we wish adults were. We cannot expect change if we are not willing to push for it. Let’s be the generation that makes the difference and ends school shootings one person at a time.
A Culture To Live By
We stood by again. I have heard these words over and over and over. People have asked politicians and other figures of importance” why haven’t we done something?” There’s no use writing a document with super long or complicated words, when no one will listen. That right there is the reason we’ve been forced to stand by. These heartless figures, these uneducated people, even the ones who think they know everything, stand and bicker about something that seems impossible, yet is so possible I’m surprised we've yet to achieve it. I ask as a speaker, for you to drop your prejudice, to drop your opinion that you hold so highly, to drop the knowledge you claim to have, for just one moment and listen.
The problem lies not within the gun, but the user. If I take a 1911 pistol, and place it on the ground and leave, that gun will not kill someone. If I take an AR-15 and place that on the ground and leave, that gun will not kill someone. If I were to take a 50-caliber sniper rifle with armor penetrating rounds, and place that on the ground and leave, that gun will not kill anyone. The gun by itself is not what kills someone, it’s the motivation of the person behind said firearm. It’s the truth. Those who think a gun alone on the ground can kill someone should educate themselves in physics before attempting a rebuttal.
The problem does not lie in the accessibility of a firearm either. It doesn’t matter who you are, or the illness you may have, would you not agree that if you want something you would do anything to get it? If someone wanted a gun, it doesn’t matter how complicated or long you make each step take to obtain one, people will go through it all to get one. Plus illegal vendors exist, if you were to add gun control, it becomes immediately obsolete if I can walk into a sketchy alleyway and spend $100 on a glock with a drum mag.
As I stated, the problem lies within the motivation of the shooter, however it’s a hard problem to fix. The solutions either sound childish or are downright impossible. The solution I propose would be to create a culture where people lose that motivation. That’s right, creating an environment that people are actually nice to each other, thus negating the chances of the motivation to kill. If a kid is bullied over and over in class or humiliated by “peers,” no wonder he has the intent to exact revenge. If you were to create that nice environment, then that revenge disappears.
This is how you fix this. This is how you care for people. This is how you take a stand, because it takes courage to be nice, since everyone seems to make fun of the people you are. It’s not “cool” to be nice, just the word itself grants eye rolls and giggles but its the truth.
Our society stands separated by opinions, by the fact that being nice is considered stupid, by the fact we can be selfish when we want, by the fact we don't help others even when we say we do. This idea that nice is childish, immature, or rare shouldn't be the case, and we should build a culture where the motivation to kill doesn't exist. Gun control shouldn't be what we discuss, rather finding some way to make this culture better.
Claremont High School