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The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

Denormalizing gun violence

With modern-day weapons, gun violence has drastically increased. What is America going to do about it?
With+gun+violence+on+the+rise%2C+more+people+are+taking+action+by+giving+speeches%2C+joining+marches%2C+and+speaking+up+when+necessary.
Lydia Cruce
With gun violence on the rise, more people are taking action by giving speeches, joining marches, and speaking up when necessary.

Picture this: you get home from a long day of school and turn on the news. You hear about another mass shooting that happened somewhere in the U.S.. What is your reaction? You would be horrified, of course, but would you be surprised? 

Guns have been significant to our country ever since its founding. The second amendment of the Constitution states “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Since the ratification of the Constitution in 1788, firearm technology has advanced significantly. Colonial-era muskets have evolved into modern firearms with greater capacity and firing rates. In Iowa, people who want to purchase weapons no longer need to go through background checks to make sure they are able to handle the weapon safely. This has spread all through the country, and as the years go on, fewer and fewer gun laws have been put in place. According to the United States Congress, the most recent gun law was put in place back in June of 2022. The law was intended to prevent gun trafficking, encourage safe storage of guns, and increase the age limit on certain firearms. Is this law enough to stop gun violence altogether? No, it is not.

Now that more people have access to guns, more people have the ability to use them. This can be very dangerous, especially when it comes to younger people using these weapons. When you are young, your brain has not fully developed, meaning that when you feel a strong emotion, like anger, you want to act on it. This can lead to a lot of horrific injuries and deaths involving guns – some accidental, some purposeful. According to the CDC, 48,830 Americans died in 2021 due to gun-related injuries. Think about it; those 48,830 lives could have been saved if we had stricter gun laws.

If so many deaths occur, then why do people purchase guns in the first place? One of the most common reasons why people buy guns is for self defense, according to The New York Times. While some argue that the presence of guns can reduce violence, others claim that carrying guns will actually increase the risk of harm. In a survey done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in five adults have been threatened with gun violence. So, people want to use guns to defend themselves from guns? This sounds like the start to a lot of messy situations. If we had stricter gun laws, not as many people would be able to use guns to hurt others, so there wouldn’t be as much of a need for self defense in the first place.

While some gun laws are incredibly beneficial, others can be put in place with good intentions, but in fact worsen the situation. Let’s take the new Iowa bill, HF 2586, for example. While the bill hasn’t been passed by the Senate yet, it would ensure that school staff members who are licensed to carry a firearm can bring them into school. While this can be helpful if teachers need to perform self defense or protect their students from gun violence – like a school shooting – there are a lot of disadvantages that are easy to skip over. One downside is that students and other staff members could potentially get ahold of these guns, which could result in devastating situations if they are accidentally or purposefully fired. Besides worrying about the guns getting into the wrong hands, you also have to think about whether or not these weapons would be useful in the school environment. If there was a potential shooting, would a teacher really jump into action, or would they wait until law enforcement arrives to handle the situation? Our teachers already have enough on their shoulders; they don’t need to worry about protecting their students as well. 

If we had stricter gun laws, not as many people would be able to use guns to hurt others, so there wouldn’t be as much of a need for self defense in the first place.

— Lydia Cruce '27

What do we want these gun laws to do, then? Instead of encouraging the use of guns, like the HF 2586 bill does, we should restrict them. A law needs to be put in place that requires everyone purchasing a gun to go through a background check beforehand. This way the weapon is ensured to be in safe hands and less gun violence will occur. It is also extremely important that we set a distinctive age where you can buy a gun – preferably 21 or older. Young people, even at the age of 18, still act first without putting much thought into it. Older people, however, are generally less impulsive and would be able to handle a weapon with more precaution. 

Representatives by Lydia Cruce

Although I want safe gun laws in place, I am not a legislator or a person in power. Most likely, neither are you. You may think that we have no control over what laws are created or passed. While it is true that we are not in control of the law, that doesn’t mean we can’t raise our voice when we think something needs to be changed. Raising our voices does not necessarily mean going to protests and making speeches, although that works as well. Speaking up for what you believe in can also take the form of writing letters to representatives that have the power to change the law. If enough people speak up about a subject, change can be made. 

As the years go by, more and more school shootings have occurred. According to Statista, in 2022, there were 153 K-12 school shootings – that is an absurdly high number compared to the 20 that happened in 1970. I no longer want to have the fear in the back of my mind that I could be next. When guns are this easy to get ahold of, anyone’s name could be tacked onto the end of the list of gun violence victims. Maybe your face would flash across a television screen and your name would be spoken once on the radio. People would hear your story, and they would be horrified, if only for a moment. To them, this is just another shooting that happens daily in the United States. It’s just the norm; it’s just how it is here, isn’t it? 

People would be horrified, yes, but they would not be surprised.

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