[OPINION] Student Feels “Let Down” By Gun Violence

Yesterday, I got an email from a Staples High School sophomore. She calls herself “quiet,” and says that although she’s not a very good writer, she’s passionate about one subject, and wanted to share her thoughts with the “06880” community.

She’s wrong. She is an excellent writer. And her feelings come through, loud and clear She writes:

I’m not sure when the events at Parkland hit me entirely, but I feel the weight now. I surely did not comprehend it on Valentine’s Day.

I saw the news as an alert on my phone, but I was preparing for a chemistry test and ignored it. That speaks volumes, I suppose. I have become so numb to gun violence that it was easy (easy!) for me to turn my phone off, and instead focus on writing out a chemical reaction.

I read the story in depth later that day, but all I could think was the tragic irony that a mass shooting had happened on Valentine’s Day, which I associate with frivolity…not death.

I struggle now, grappling with my emotions: bereavement, frustration, and fear.

I despise guns with a passion. I used to argue (rather radically) that guns were entirely unnecessary. I thought no one should have one. In recent months, I’ve come to adopt the belief that no one should own some guns. A gun designed for human murder, I think, should not be available for purchase. I think that this stance is more commonplace; I hope that it is.

One opinion, however, that I do feel is more universally accepted (at least among students) is that I feel let down. We are let down due to lack of action.

My opinion is deemed less valuable on the basis of age alone. I am not able to participate in political matters because I have not yet reached the “magical” age of maturity; I am under 18.

My voice should still be respected. In fact, I think that teenage voices should be relevant now more than ever. Students feel personally affected by the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. I’ve broken down this week, as have my peers.

Our safety is in the hands of lawmakers…lawmakers who haven’t made much progress. Lawmakers who have offered up some of the most absurd solutions I’ve ever heard (we shouldn’t be solving guns with guns, that’s just a vicious cycle). And, I should point out, this is not just about student safety. Banning weapons of assault should be viewed as a gain for everyone.

I plan to participate in the national school walkout on March 14, and I’m proud that I attend a school that has such a determined student body. If progress still hasn’t been made, I also plan on taking part in the Connecticut-wide one, intended for April 20th…to mark the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.

Living in fear is no way to live. And I’m certainly scared. But I refuse to become acclimated to tragedy.

Thank you,
A Staples Student

23 responses to “[OPINION] Student Feels “Let Down” By Gun Violence

  1. Dear staples student,
    I agree with you. I feel no one should be afraid to go to school, for fear of being shot. I urge you to register to vote when you are 18, and pay attention to how your reps. are voting. You could also now join postcards for america on facebook, and write to voters influencing elections right now. Please remain committed to this cause. We need all the rational people we can find to stop this senseless slaughter. Thank you for your letter.

  2. Debbie Wilson Hoult

    Eloquent young woman. Her opinion matters so very much. I feel let down by the American legislative system. I thought that gun laws would undoubtedly change after Sandy Hook. Too many subsequent tragedies have been met by silence. Momentum may move many now.

  3. Well said, dear Staples student. I—along with so many others of all ages—also feel let down, frustrated and angered by the power of the gun lobby and the cowardice of the politicians in its grip. Even though many in power may not be listening to you, others of us are and are heartened by the passion and the vision of our young people. We need you—please keep speaking and acting up!!!

  4. Joan Hume-Cohen

    What eloquent writing that has to be about a horrible event. I keep hearing that no assault weapons should be sold to someone under 21 years of age. What! Assault weapons have one purpose. To kill people. Even those four deputies were afraid to confront someone with an assault weapon since they didn’t carry them. They were cowards for not doing their job since students and teachers protected others without having a gun at all. Yet there can be something to learn from that.

    I plan to boycott any business who offers discounts to NRA members and I applaud those businesses who have stopped doing so.
    I also applaud all the students, including our writer, who are stepping up and stepping in where others have feared to tread. Bravo!

  5. well said. I support you 100 per cent. Please make sure that you and your contacts vote. Do not deal with the NRA. Boycott all their business associates. There is an on line petition requesting Amazon cut streaming NRA propaganda. The NRA is an anti semitic and anti minority. They donated 11 million to Trump and over 1 million to Rubio. Know the details. Thank you

  6. Agree with you Dan that this young lady has said some really great things! Mike

    Sent from my iPhone


  7. I wish this young woman could just be worrying about her chemistry test. But the climate we live in makes that impossible. Any politician who says this is not the time to act or re-act is a sorry excuse for a grown up. She is an eloquent spokesperson for our students and for all students living in these times.

    Yes, it’s the FBI and local governments not following up on information about unstable students; and lack of adequate mental health support. But it’s also and always about accessibility to assault weapons for 18 year olds and 50 year olds.

  8. Arline Gertzoff

    I am a retired teacher and applaud all students who are speaking out .Assault weapons need to be banned in every state .Teachers are not security forces and guns in schools is aberrant The second amendment dealt with people protecting themselves against Indian attacks .I have nothing against responsible gun owners and the need for law enforcement to have weapons Perhaps the students can achieve what our government doesn’t have the guts to do

  9. Bill Boyd (Staples '66)

    This young lady is a breath of fresh and sane air….I hope she will stay strong and dedicated and I believe she will…we need many more like her !

  10. This young woman makes me proud that I went to her high school .
    ADW Staples 1956

  11. This latest mass murder with a weapon of war may very well be the long overdue tipping point for real and speedy cultural change. The Staples student’s thoughtful letter and the poised and engaged messages from students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and across the country have reinforced my belief that our nation’s future is secure. The state of country is strong because our young people are strong – and they are
    not afraid of change.

  12. “We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else.” — Chris Murphy.

  13. I think the board off ed should march with the students and principals in Westport and our selectman and women should walk out with all off you guys I also think we should do something on the bridge I also want thanks westport police and fire for all the work they do to be on the front line and westport ems we have a great town with all the town workers

  14. I am 80 years old…. Military weapons have no place in America! Shame, shame, shame on those who cannot yet see. What is wrong with our government? Happy Valentines’ Day? Sent from my iPhone Bobbi


  15. A great piece by a talented writer. This student gives me hope that our community and our nation can come together and put an end to this senseless and preventable violence. I am filled with pride in out town if it is the home of such passionate and eloquent people. This young lady and her peers are the future, and this work renews my trust in that future.

  16. Tragically, it’s not only students- people are getting MURDERED in movie theaters, schools, concerts, etc. God help us from this lawless tradition of military assault weapon worship.

  17. To the very articulate Staples student. U are so right. We cannot fight guns with guns. We have to force our lawmakers to finally take a stand to change the stronghold that the NRA has on politicians and big business. This has to stop and I fully support these brave determined young adults/students who have had enough. Let them set the example for the rest of us and those who rush to arm teachers and school guards. Money first needs to be spent to bring our school security up to the highest state of the art systems.

  18. Dear Staples Student,

    You have been let down. You’ve been let down by people who put the special interests of a few over the safety and well being of all. Thankfully, your generation is going to be the ones to change all of this. Don’t buy the trope that it will never change – that you can’t fight the gun lobby. It will, and we can. You and the other young people we have heard from this last week have had the clearest, most passionate, and committed voices in this conversation. Keep at it. Your generation is making a huge contribution towards making our land safer for everyone.

  19. Mary Cookman Schmerker SHS '58

    Dear Student, you write very well with passion and clarity. Keep it up. Dear Dan, For obvious reasons I don’t need to explain, thank you for keeping the student’s identity private. When Allyson Camerota interviewed Jack Kingston he seemed to doubt the ability of students to organize. Mr. Kingston underestimates their passion and intelligence and social media expertize. I am hopeful that finally something will be done. Just as a footnote, several times I heard Connecticut praised for the steps they took after Sandy Hook and Connecticut’s A rating on gun issues was also noted and praised.

  20. Jennifer Jones

    Thank you!

  21. I support this brave and eloquent young woman and all the teens who are making change seem possible for the first time!

  22. Here is an example of how another country dealt with a mass school shooting: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunblane_massacre. The place is called Dunblane, Scotland, and it is a few miles from Stirling. Tennis player Andy Murray was one of the survivors: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/jun/17/judy-murray-dunblane-massacre-just-left-car-and-ran.
    I guess the Brits are a species of the “European Socialists” reviled by Wayne LaPierre in his recent CPAC diatribe. When it comes to gun control and the fears expressed by LaPierre, I am reminded of FDR’s famous statement the NRA has nothing to fear but fear itself. It is interesting to me that an organization with 5m members whose purpose is purportedly to protect the the 2nd Amendment (or in my second half of it) has done so much to impede effective regulation of lethal weaponry and as a consequence so many innocent lives have been avoidably lost. After seeing the NRA’s response to Sandy Hook, I was, and continue to be, certain that even if a gunman with an AR15 sprayed the contents of its magazine into a room full of babies, the NRA would still find a way of inoculating the gun. I truly doubt that the framers of the constitution, had they anticipated the unimaginable power of an assault rifle, would think it is OK for such weapons to be so easy to purchase lawfully. I am so grateful to the Staples sophomore for her thoughts and insights. If she is representative of her generation then I feel that the future may well be brighter.