Gatepost Editorial: Education shouldn’t be deadly

On Nov. 30, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley allegedly entered a bathroom at Oxford High School in Michigan, where he was a student.

He entered the bathroom with a backpack and left holding a semi-automatic handgun and began to fire at students as he moved down the hallway, according to NPR.

The shooting resulted in the deaths of four students, and six other students as well as one teacher were injured, according to The New York Times.

NPR reported that just hours before the shooting, Ethan’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, attended a meeting at the school to discuss their son’s concerning behavioral issues.

According to Bridge Michigan, a newspaper, rumors spread among students that something ominous would happen at the school on Nov. 30. The Associated Press reported that one parent claimed her son decided to stay home Tuesday, telling her he didn’t feel comfortable going. 

The gun Ethan allegedly used during the shooting was a 9 mm Sig Sauer, according to Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard. The gun was purchased on Black Friday by Ethan’s father, according to Bouchard.

Authorities also revealed on Wednesday that this shooting was not an impulsive act and a large amount of digital evidence against Ethan was found, according to NPR. Authorities reported that they found a video Ethan recorded the night before in which he discusses killing his classmates, according to Lt. Tim Willis. 

Warning signs about Ethan’s plans were not discovered fast enough.

Following the Dec. 12, 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut, which claimed the lives of 20 children, between 6 and 7 years old, families of the victims and other activists across the country formed independent groups to address gun violence.

According to The New York Times, Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley created Sandy Hook Promise to develop “programs that would train students to recognize and report warning signs among classmates.”

Over 3,000 tips have resulted from the group’s actions, with some leading to arrests, according to The Times.

But the burden of detecting warning signs among children should not fall on other children.

Shannon Watts created Moms Demand Action in response to Sandy Hook, which The Times reported is the “gun-related equivalent to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.” The group has since pushed to improve background checks for potential gun owners.

But while background checks are essential, they don’t prevent children from stealing their parents’ guns. Something more needs to be done.

Sadly, small, but mighty groups like Sandy Hook Promise and Moms Demand Action don’t have the power or authority to prevent school shootings entirely on their own.

These conversations need to happen at the federal level.

So far in 2021,  The Times reported there have been 28 school shootings, with 20 of them occurring since Aug. 1. The Times also reported that since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, 438 people have been shot in over 239 school shootings in the United States. 

Of those individuals, 138 were killed and 16 of these shootings have been classified as mass shootings. 

So the question is: when is enough, enough?

How many school shootings will it take for change not just to be talked about, but to be implemented on a federal level?

In 2018, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told a crowd in Kentucky that there was little Congress could do on a federal level to prevent school shootings besides provide funding for better security for schools and plans to train employees to carry guns on campus, according to USA Today.

But McConnell is wrong. 

Congress does have the ability to prevent school shootings by introducing a comprehensive plan to stop these tragedies and gun violence, according to Everytown Research and Policy group.

First, a nation-wide Extreme Risk Law needs to be enacted. This would give family members, law enforcement, and educators the ability to petition a court to temporarily prohibit an individual from owning any firearms and ban them from purchasing guns when there is evidence that this would pose a risk to the individual or others. 

This would allow us to keep our nation safe from gun violence without threatening the Second Amendment. 

Congress must also require every gun owner to go through rigorous gun safety courses. These courses would educate gun owners on how to safely use their guns and how to properly secure them, which means locking up the firearm and ammunition separately. 

According to Everytown, 39% of gun owners have not received any gun safety training. 

Parents who are gun owners also need to be educating their children on gun safety and the dangers of improper gun handling as well. Children can be curious, and if they find an improperly secured firearm, it can lead to a dangerous and deadly situation – whether it be premeditated murder or an accidental discharge.

Proper gun safety can save a child’s life. 

These simple steps can be taken to prevent future tragedies. They are the bare minimum that can be implemented, they don’t restrict Second Amendment rights, and there is no reason Congress should vote against them.

When children enter their schools, they should not be thinking, “Will I be shot today?” 

Children have a right to education and they deserve to feel safe when obtaining it.

Our nation should have seen change when innocent children were murdered in the Sandy Hook shooting.

It’s been nearly nine years since, and children are still dying because of gun violence in a place they should feel safe – their classrooms.