could your school be next?
Charter Oak High School

An open letter on massacres, regulations and the future

Mr. President, where were you on Valentine’s Day? Were you out to dinner with a loved one or were you sitting in the Oval Office, alone? For me, my spirits had been high after a great day, but that was before I returned home. I was scrolling through Snapchat when I saw a story about the Florida shooting. I turned on the news and saw teenagers fleeing to safety. My parents came home and immediately were engrossed by the television: My mother was watching, tears streaming down her face, my father watched in horror, and I sat there, a million thoughts racing through my mind.

Where were you?

On Wednesday, Feb. 14, an active shooter entered the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He killed 17 people and injured 14 others, including students and staff.

The shooter was Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old man who entered the high school with an AR-15, a semi automatic rifle, and smoke grenades, and he opened fire. Cruz was a former Eagle student who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons.

Comments made by him on social media accounts, his online presence as well as his long list of discipline problems indicate he may have mental illness.

After he posted this comment on YouTube, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” Cruz came on the radar of the FBI.

On Valentine’s Day, Cruz pulled the fire alarm in hopes of killing more students who would exit their classes into the hallway. His motive was clearly to do as much damage as possible. He tried escaping shortly after by blending in with the students fleeing to safety, but was later caught off campus.

He was charged with 17 accounts of premeditated murder.

Seventeen brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends and family members are not coming home, ever again.

Seventeen precious lives lost.

This is the eighth school shooting of 2018. America has had nearly one-third of the school shootings around the world. On Wednesday, the government failed us, and I’m hoping they do not continue to fail to act.

You, since then, tweeted your condolences to the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting and later held a press conference, but you did not say once the words “gun” or “control.”

Some people on social media have said to give the victims time to grief, time to be with their loved ones, and that now is not the time to talk about gun control. Perhaps not now, but when? In the past years, as massacres have become more common, we grew silent as a nation. The passion to take on guns was countered by opposition; Obama tried to pass a regulation, but was stopped by the GOP. But the time to talk about mass shootings, guns, regulations and the pain was weeks ago, before a 15-year-old boy killed two of his peers in Kentucky and before a 20-year-old man entered Sandy Hook in 2012, killing 26 — 20 who were in first grade.

America has had over 300 school shootings since the Columbine massacre in 1999.

Amercia is stuck in a horrific cycle: a mass shooting happens, thoughts and prayers are extended for the victims, debates occur over social media, people forget, congress does nothing, and then it happens all over again and again and again. It needs to stop. How many people need to die before we realize something needs to change?

I am 17-year-old  junior in high school; I am afraid to go to school. Everyday I wake up wondering if I will be safe today. Children surviving in school outweighs your right to own any gun you desire.

We live in society where we now sell bulletproof backpacks to children who are taught how to hide from flying bullets. We live in a society where more money is put into jails and prisons than into our own education system and the future of America. We live in a society where a billion dollar industry, the NRA, has practically bought the presidency.

It’s true that some school shooters are suffering from a mental illness. According to, three to five percent of massacres can be attributed to individuals living with some form of mental illness, but an argument to help those with mental illness does not silence the argument that there needs to be less guns available.

“In this specific case, the shooter had a history of violent tendencies, and it was quite obvious that he would follow this path. He posted photos of himself with firearms on social media, was accused of abusing his partner, and threatened teachers. Despite this, he was still able to buy an AR 15 and bulk ammunition, like a bottle of Advil. It should not be easy for a person with this history to buy an ASSAULT weapon, the same weapon used in numerous recent shootings, including Sandy Hook and Vegas,” junior Ethan Fierro said. “This weapon is the same kind of weapon that fired into my mother’s shoulder on Oct. 1, 2017 [the Las Vegas country concert shooting]. This weapon took the lives of numerous kindergarten children at Sandy Hook and took the lives of 58 people at a concert in Vegas in addition to the hundreds injured. The right to bear an assault rifle that was never imagined when the Second Amendment was made and does not outweigh the devastating effects that come from it. I support the right to own weapons made for self defense. I do not support weapons made for assault.”

At Charter Oak, the windows make up a wall of every classroom.

These windows are not bulletproof. In fact, they are not even fist proof; earlier this year, a student accidentally bumped a windows–it was shattered.

How safe is our campus? How safe are we? How safe is any school in any city or town in the United States? When does the time for grieving  end and the time for action begin? We’re waiting.


  • Reply Doug Campbell February 28, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    One minor comment. There are literally millions of AR-15s in the United States, and very few of them have been used for school massacres. In fact, fewer of them have been used for school massacres than semiautomatic handguns have been used. Furthermore, the most loss of life in a mass killing in the United States occurred when someone used a passenger jet plane to kill people (9/11), and the second largest loss of life in a mass killing occurred when someone used a truck to kill people (Oklahoma City). Yet, even though the latter two tools have been used for mass murder, there’s been no call to ban them. The reason is obvious — they have other, more benign, uses. But they are dangerous nonetheless, and if you want to ban weaponry, they must be on the list. A gun, on the other hand, is a standoff weapon — used either for defense or for offense — but which has one purpose: to fire a bullet which is capable of incapacitating the living being it hits. And those living beings include felony criminals intent on the kinds of felonies which may deprive others of their right to life. When one calls for the banning of guns, one is calling for the banning of a private right to a standoff defense against these felony criminals. Furthermore, when one restricts by law where one can carry a gun, one merely disarms the law abiding person and converts them into a favorable target for the criminal.

    The shooter in your article was never arrested. He was never reported by his psychologist as being unfit to bear arms. He was not on the radar of the FBI — although, in hindsight, both the Broward County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI had ample warning of his intentions — and they failed to act. Furthermore, while the shooter was active, no less than four sheriff’s deputies were outside the Stoneman Douglas school. Those deputies cowered under stairwells and behind their cruisers, and stood by while the shooter shot at will. Far braver people than these deputies put their own bodies between the students and the gunman — and were killed in the act. This type of heroism — laying down one’s life for another — is not unprecedented — at Sandy Hook, the Principal of the school attempted to stop the shooter at her school with her bare hands and was killed in the attempt.

    So, while some may state that guns need to be banned, there are certain take-away lessons here which suggest just the opposite. First, guns are not going away. Imagine that every AR-15 disappeared. That would still leave pistols and bolt action rifles — both of which also are guns — standoff weapons. And, given the behavior of the first responders at the Stoneman Douglas shooting, one cannot depend upon the police to defend you. In fact, the Supreme Court has already ruled on this matter:

    With the above thought in mind, anyone needing a defense who relies solely upon the police for protection will be subject to the following maxim: When seconds matter, the police are only minutes away, and even if they are seconds away, they are neither obligated to protect nor to serve.

    The reason the person holding a gun has the upper hand is, again, because the gun is a standoff weapon. It makes the weak person (for example, a woman) fully the equal in combat with a strong person (for example, a male rapist). With that thought in mind, consider that courtrooms and legislative chambers and really wealthy people are all protected by guards carrying guns, and that judges and legislators and really wealthy people often carry their own guns in addition to being protected by guards. Whose lives are even more precious than some judge, some legislator, or some rich man? The answer, of course, is children — so why are children not protected like courtrooms, legislative chambers, and really wealthy people? One should not expect a child to carry a gun, but one can certainly carry a gun to protect a child.

    Why don’t we do that? To answer that question, you’d have to ask the people who invented the concept of the gun-free zone — a concept which has not worked well for us at all.


  • Reply Tina Takhmazyan March 1, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    This is so impactful. Great job :)


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