(Editor’s Note: This piece was first published by our sister publication, The Florida Phoenix, on Dec. 19, 2018. It was compiled by Jeff Foster, a teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. It was written by students Isabel, 17; Jacyln, 18; Jacob, 18; Jenny, 18; Marcus, 17; Olivia, 18; and Shai, 17. This week, as the nation observes the one year anniversary of this tragedy, their words carry as much impact as ever)
“This past Valentine’s Day, I was lucky enough to escape – along with 30 of my students – the senseless massacre that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where I’ve taught Advanced Placement American Government for the last 20 years. I recently asked some of my students to share their thoughts and emotions about what they all lived through that day, what they now relive every day – and what they believe must be done to stop it from happening again. The following is the compiled (and gently edited) words of my students” — Jeff Foster
On Feb. 14th, 2018, 17 of my peers, coaches, and teachers were killed at my school. Finding peace after February has been difficult as alarms no longer represent the possibility of leaping flames, but the threat of something much more sinister. We must now turn our attention to preventing the irrational – yet premeditated – human decision caused time and again by utilizing the weapons that murderers covet the most.
Assault weapons, or semi-automatic assault rifles, were once banned under U.S. law from 1994-2004. The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, commonly called the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB and AWB 1994), was enacted in September 1994.
The ban, which included high-capacity magazines, became defunct (expired) in September 2004 per a 10-year sunset provision. During those ten years, there was a direct correlation between the law and fewer mass shootings. Gun massacres fell by almost 40 percent during that decade and quickly returned to previous levels after the ban lapsed. This evidence is too strong to ignore, and we believe that the country is undeniably safer if the ban is re-installed immediately.
A common argument against the assault weapons ban is that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” This is absurd, as no human being would have the ability to destroy human tissue and explode arteries like a grenade without an assault weapon, among the most powerful weapons in the world. The hard-to-swallow truth for the opposition is that people kill people…with guns.
We clearly see a common thread between many of the mass shootings in this country — the AR-15. This killing machine was used in Las Vegas, Newtown, Sutherland Springs, Orlando, San Bernardino, and in our home, Parkland. These shootings could have either been prevented or resulted in less casualties if the original assault weapons ban had continued.
Writing this today, not even a year later, is incredibly difficult. Read more