Opinion: We should politicize school shootings

Action on guns won't be taken until shootings are politicized

Every time there is a mass shooting in the U.S. there's an expected exchange: left-leaning lawmakers, news outlets and citizens call for stricter gun laws while right-leaning lawmakers, news outlets and citizens call for the left to stop politicizing death.

If shootings should not be politicized, then when is the "right time" to talk about gun control? 

Analysis by Viet Vu shows there were only 15 sporadic days in 2017 when it was "OK" to bring mass shootings into the political sphere. He came to this finding based on one simple fact: There couldn't be any mass shootings in the last three days. 

In a period of time where students are no longer surprised by school shootings, something has to change. This is not an atmosphere that students, whether in college or in kindergarten, should have to be in. 

Politicizing Mass Shootings - When we can talk about Gun Control

On October 1st, 2017, a gunman rained bullets from a hotel room in Las Vegas, killing 59 and injuring 546. It was the deadliest mass shooting in US's recent history. After every mass shooting, the narrative has become familiar, almost scripted.

As the time between school shootings is decreasing, it is imperative that there is productive and thought out debate on gun rights and gun control in this country. 

Following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students organized nationwide protests against gun violence, and at least 1.2 million people nationwide marched, including 15,000 people at the Arizona State Capitol. 

This large push of youth activism forced lawmakers to listen to what was happening in schools and fully take action. In fact, some lawmakers sat down with students to hear their concerns and address those issues with appropriate legislation. 

This is something ASU students should do as the 2020 Arizona legislative session approaches. 

This lack of conversation can be seen in the lack of federal action, with there being little to no gun control legislation since the Columbine shooting. 

However, there has been more change at the state level, with 280 gun safety bills signed into law by governors across the country since the shooting at Sandy Hook. The issue is also non-partisan at the state level: 14 of the 50 new laws passed as of August 2018 were in states with Republican governors. 

Unfortunately, Arizona is not one of those states. Although Gov. Doug Ducey has brought forth the Safe Arizona Schools Plan, the plan has not been fully implemented and ignores gaps in the debate.

The issue of school gun violence is important to students because many incoming classes are growing up in classrooms where they have to be fearful for their safety.

"After the Parkland shooting, my high school started to put gates around the school, and became more strict about security," said Jacob Sumner, treasurer for March For Our Lives ASU. "Now whenever there is a fire drill, teachers and students have to take extra precautions to make sure that there is no active shooter on campus."

By not politicizing school shootings, the status quo is maintained. With action, especially from young people, that can all change. 

While March for Our Lives is an empowering movement, it is one whose demands must be put into policy in Arizona.

"The student voice is extremely important, especially as we move into an election. It is important to show politicians the change that is needed and have our voices heard," Sumner said. 

READ MORE: Activists from March For Our Lives to visit ASU Tempe campus

With the number of voters between the ages of 18 and 23 doubling between 2016 and 2020, the student voice has a large impact on our future government representation. 

School shootings are an inherently political issue. So long as we allow legislators to virtually ignore this issue when it comes to lawmaking, students will continue to fall at the hands of gun violence. 

Shootings will only continue to happen, likely at a more alarming rate, if their impacts are not brought into the political sphere. The politicization of this issue is overdue, and it is students' responsibility to transform it into tangible action for their futures.


Reach the columnist at alshah2@asu.edu or follow @aasheeni on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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