The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

The Online Edition of the Annandale High School Newspaper.

The A-Blast

Gun law debate heightens

Gun law debate heightens

“Are we against guns or control?”

This is the question sophomore Steve Aderton asked himself as he watched the news the afternoon of August 27 where an image of the newest shooting at a Baltimore public school blared across the screen; one student shot by another on the first day of classes. Aderton hadn’t been the only member of the AHS community who has had to find himself exposed to this question over the past year, for the several mass shootings that have caught the media and country’s attention in this short time frame have not easily gone unnoticed.

The huge spark of the controversy began when 24-year-old James Holmes opened fire on a movie theater at the premiere of the blockbuster, The Dark Knight Rises, in Aurora, Colorado late July, killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. The media’s attention could not be turned for the couple of weeks following Holmes’ attack, for the tragedy became the worst mass shooting in the country’s history. Several prominent members of the media world, such as journalist Piers Morgan, began stressing the fact that the machine guns and heavy amount of ammunition Holmes used were bought legally online, creating a slue of debates about whether American guns and weapons should have tighter restrictions or not.

Closer to home at AHS, the number of weapons offensives has declined from the years 2008-2011 from eight weapons violations to only two. With the results of the nationwide shootings and AHS statistics reported for public knowledge, students and parents have weighed in on their own opinions regarding gun and weapon restrictions.

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“I think people should be allowed to own guns, but the government needs to do a proper background check [on people buying guns] and look at their residence because it’s honestly so easy to get a gun,” senior Dili Aklilu said. “Look what happened this summer: the Colorado shooting, the Empire State Building shooting, and there are just too many [others] to name.”

The problem that many people see is the fact that when someone goes to buy a gun, the gun seller runs a criminal background check, but not a mental health check on the consumer. With the many shooters who have been involved in these shootings having had previous mental health problems, advocates for tighter gun restrictions have demanded change.

“There should definitely be serious restrictions on guns in America to prevent accidents and those who feel like owning guns should be educated about the risks and the laws concerning gun possession as to clear any confusion in the future,” senior Beatrice Ohene-Okae said.

Others in the community disagree, believing that the problem isn’t the availability of guns and weapons in this country, but the causes of these shootings.

“I believe the real problems with these shootings that have been happening recently aren’t necessarily the fact that guns are available, and I fully support our Second Amendment,” Aderton said. “The issue that most people fail to see is that the media uses these shootings as coverage for the next few days of their broadcasting.”

Aderton would go on to explain that after listening to forensic psychologist Dr. Park Dietz viewpoints on shootings, he agrees that making the murders headline news across the country does nothing to help controlling these shootings.

“Statistics show that if there’s heavy media coverage of a murder, there’s an expected one or two more within a few weeks, as has been clearly observable this past year. Alerting the affected community, and making the news story as boring as possible is the safest, and [is the] most mature way of looking at the situation,” Aderton said.

Senior Mairead Kennedy agrees. “When you buy a gun you take on the responsibility that you should be able to take care of that firearm and use it responsibly, and that doesn’t happen all the time. I don’t think that just because some people don’t know how to do something responsibly, that it should outlaw guns altogether.”

Fairfax County hasn’t been immune to its own amount of school shootings this past year. On June 22, a school shooting with pellet guns was reported to Fairfax County police. The shooting took place at Rocky Run Middle School where two 16-year-old teens were charged with shooting two other students: a 14-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl who were immediately sent to Inova Fairfax Hospital. The teens were charged and sent to the Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Center with counts of Class III and VI felonies and could be imprisoned for up to five years.

Nonetheless, many AHS parents also feel that guns, including pellet guns, and other weapons shouldn’t be completely outlawed, but some restrictions must be placed on the availability of the items.

“I completely agree with the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, the right to keep and bear arms. In the event of criminals, I do however agree with limiting their right, and for certain people with mental health issues,” AHS parent Michelle Kennedy said. “Real world experience does not show that gun control reduces crime, it encourages people to get them illegally, and only criminals will have guns. Gun control limits the citizens right to protect themselves.”

Aderton stayed in front of his television and pondered the debate again, as he came to the same conclusion.

“The Internet has the potential to host pirated content. Does that mean the government should ban the Internet? Guns have the potential to be used as a weapon, but should we ban guns?” Aderton said. “It’s like if someone wanted to ban usage of all vehicles because of some idiots who crashed while driving under the influence.”

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Gun law debate heightens