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Student perspectives

June 3, 2021

The new constitutional carry law has sparked mostly negative responses among West High students, with 85.4% of 92 respondents to a survey disagreeing with the new law and 12.4% agreeing.

“I’m genuinely feeling unsafe just going out in public because of this new law,” said Quincy Tate ’21. “I think that if most people went through and read the content of this bill, they would not agree with it. 

Like Tate, Peter Adams ’22 believes in the danger that might come along with the passing of this new law. 

“It does worry me that it’s becoming easier and easier to get a gun, and especially guns that can inflict a lot of damage in very little time,” Adams said. 

Adams feels other students around him may be worried as well.

“Students can get really anxious about school shootings because they’re becoming more prominent,” Adams said. “[This] can make someone feel unsafe going to a school that potentially could be a target for a mass shooting.” 

One student that has felt feelings of unsafety after hearing of mass shootings on the news is Briar Martin ’24, who is in favor of stricter gun laws. 

“It was so scary to go back to school the day after [a shooting happened],” Martin said. “We have to go to school every single day; there’s no way to avoid [school].”

On the other hand, Miguel Cohen Suarez ’22 finds shootings are no longer a shock to him due to the frequency of gun violence.

It’s happened so many times that I’ve kind of become desensitized to it.”

— Miguel Cohen Suarez '22

“The sad truth is, it’s happened so many times that I’ve kind of become desensitized to it,” Cohen Suarez said. “When someone mentions a mass shooting, it’s more like just feeling upset that it happened but not really having much empathy for the true tragedy of what happened.” 

While some might worry about what easier access to guns might bring in the future, others are not experiencing much of an emotional change. 

Sean Hagan ’22 sees widespread gun ownership as an advantage and a means of self-protection from others using guns. 

“That [law] doesn’t really scare me or anything,” Hagan said. “I think people owning guns is a good thing, and disarming the population won’t solve any problems that manifest as gun violence.”

Under current Iowa law, a person must be at least 21 years old to obtain a nonprofessional permit to carry or acquire a handgun. A person must be at least 18 years old to obtain a professional permit for a job. 

There are many reasons that people give when it comes to the source of gun violence. Most agree mass shootings can be preventable but disagree on the exact cause. 

“Bullying is not the cause of mass shootings. If bullying were a cause of mass shootings, we’d see a lot more people of color, LGBTQ folks and women who are mass shooters that’s not what happens,” Tate said.

Contrarily, Cohen Suarez views bullying as something that can lead to safety threats.

“I think it’s easy for someone who’s been bullied to take out their anger in an extremely violent and detrimental way,” Cohen Suarez said. “I think building a positive community is extremely important so that … nobody feels they need to harm each other.”

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