Opinion: Complacency cannot end gun violence

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Chesney Evert

As shootings surround us, we seem to be talking about them less. This will not end the gun violence epidemic that threatens our safety.

“It has been brought to our attention that there is a rumor circulating in our community that a school shooting will occur on Monday.”

Thus began Interim Principal Sean Priest’s email warning Carlmont families about possible gun violence on campus sent on Feb. 13, 2022.

In six sentences, our Silicon Valley bubble burst into smithereens. Multi-million dollar houses couldn’t save us from the dangerous realities of education in the 21st century.

Many students opted to stay home. It was an eye-opening day; owning my naivety, I never thought violence would get this close to Carlmont. Like most temporary fears, we moved on quickly. There were prom dresses to buy and AP tests to study for. Seven weeks have passed, and frightened whispers have been quelled.

But it’s clear the worst is yet to come.

On April 3, a gang-related shooting killed six in downtown Sacramento. Gun violence broke out in a bar in Tel Aviv, leaving two people dead three days later. On April 7, a man shot his nephew in Medford, Massachusetts.

We can’t go a week without taking other people’s lives.

It’s scary, thinking that nowhere is safe – not our streets, not our classrooms. The United States public school system alone has experienced 92 shootings in the past four years, according to Education Week.

We can all agree that this is a severe problem. No politician — Democrat, Republican, or otherwise — wants the blood of a hundred children on their hands.

But what can we do about it? Let the notoriously effective American bureaucracy take over? (Sarcasm intended).

You know what they say: behind every gun-rights politician is the NRA (National Rifle Association), emptying their piggy banks into campaign donations. Former President Donald Trump was no exception. Before the 2016 election, the NRA spent a total of 30 million dollars on Trump’s presidential run.

It’s no wonder that the Second Amendment, written for a nascent United States, is coveted when the people in charge are fueled by bribes. There’s too much money changing hands to rely on politicians who give condolences but never their vote for gun control legislation.

One thing is for sure: offering performative “thoughts and prayers” over substantive solutions gets us nowhere.

Since 2018, students have been at the forefront of the gun control movement. The March For Our Lives movement, born in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is out to end the gun violence epidemic.

These high schoolers from Parkland, Fla., turned heads and registered 50,000 new voters in the process.

We cannot wait for a tragedy in our community to make our voices heard, not when countless motivated young people, survivors, and mourners have laid the groundwork for gun violence prevention.

Their efforts allow us to be proactive, to fend off a shooting before it hits too close to home. Carlmont got a warning on Feb. 13, but future disasters may not come with a “heads up.”

A hurricane of violence surrounds us. The Bay Area, rife with privilege, seems to be the eye of the storm. Priest’s email catalyzed the largest conversation about gun violence at Carlmont that I’ve experienced, and it only lasted a few days. News of shootings in Oakland, Sacramento, or San Francisco has elicited much smaller responses.

We have to rid ourselves of this culture of complacency. Our schools, homes, and places of worship might not be in imminent danger, but other people are. As students, we need to be talking about these atrocities and brainstorming ways to prevent them from happening.

This prevention takes research into our candidates and into their funding. It takes investing in mental health resources for every student. It takes limiting access to weapons designed for a battlefield.

It sounds like a tall order, but the alternative is astronomically worse. We can’t rely on thoughts and prayers to protect us from gun violence.