[OPINION] Staples Student: “I Shouldn’t Be Scared At School”

A Staples High School student writes:

“You’re just a kid, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Except I do. I’m taught well and I follow the news. People, children, are dying because we have access to assault rifles.

When you want to make a point about how something is wrong, you say “think of the children.” But now the children are speaking out and all you can say is “you’re just kids.”

We are just kids, but even kids have opinions. Our opinion is that we shouldn’t fear being shot while we’re at school. You want us in school so we can gain knowledge and make our nation better.

You have the power to make our nation better right now by making it safer. In a population of 326 million, 73 million people are under 18. That’s around 8.5 times the population of New York City.

The founders of our nation believed in fighting for what you believe in. You’ll say those were different times. If those were different times, then why do you insist on committing to the 2nd Amendment? It was written in 1787.

Sophisticated assault weapons, when the 2nd Amendment was passed.

This is 2018. We’re a more advanced society now, and we need more advanced laws to fit. After 9/11, we said never again. We changed laws to make society safer. How many kids have to die at school before we change the laws to prevent those deaths? We are the future, and you’re letting us die.

I wrote that 2 days ago. Yesterday my school was evacuated because of a potential shooter threat. It’s a new feeling.

Whenever there is a shooting far away, I’m sad for everyone there. Whenever it’s nearby, I’m scared that it was so close.

This feeling was different. I was so utterly terrified of what could’ve happened. I shouldn’t have to text my family to let them know I’m safe, because I should be safe at school.

I shouldn’t be getting concerned messages from my family all over the world. I shouldn’t be scared at school.

This has to stop. We need to be safe. You’re letting us die because you want to keep your precious guns. Guns should not have more rights than the children of our nation. We need to stand up and fight back before we’re all gone.

Artwork by Elizabeth DeVoll, exhibited recently at the Westport Arts Center.

33 responses to “[OPINION] Staples Student: “I Shouldn’t Be Scared At School”

  1. Thank you for your bravery in writing this and for holding us accountable. I promise as a mom in this community that there are a lot of us here who are committed to making our town and school safe. In the past we may have been complacent or felt that our voice didn’t matter – that is not the case any more. Youth, like you, have changed the debate and given all of us the momentum and passion to create real change. We will do everything in our power not to fail you again.

  2. Bravo to this Staples student. Well said. You are right: we do need to fight back to save our kids and our nation. The students in FL inspire us with their courage in speaking up.
    BTW: With news like in the attached, we have good reason as Americans to doubt the NRA’s motives, and to wonder who is really calling the shots at the NRA.
    ~Kristan Hamlin

  3. “Guns should not have more rights than the children of our nation.”
    So well said.

  4. I posted the comments below in response to the opinion of another Staples student only 2 days ago https://06880danwoog.com/. How quickly events can overtake us all. I am so grateful for the opinion given by yet another Staples student whose anxiety and concern I can only imagine. It seems to me that we are fortunate indeed if our society can produce more thoughtful and powerful voices such as these Staples student along with what seems to be a growing number of their peers across the country. Our children may well succeed where we adults have failed.

    “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.”

    • Richard Santalesa

      Not sure what you reference as to the UK. Crime is up significantly in the UK and they’ve implimented the most video cameras of any country. A story in the UK guardian paper from June 2017 noted “Police record 10% rise in crime in England and Wales, with 18% increase in violent crime and significant rise in murder rate.”

  5. Janette Kinnally

    Thank you for writing this heartfelt message to all of us. We hear you and we will stand beside you on this issue along with many other issues affecting the youth at this time. As a mom, I have been active in the fight for gun control since Sandy Hook and now we will have even more people and energy behind the efforts to affect positive gun law changes in this country. We will be knocking down the doors of the congressman to make positive change in a very broken system in this nation.
    We will be the change you want to see in the world!!! I believe it will happen!

  6. To the insightful student who wrote this,
    I am the father of two students in Westport, so this shook me to my core as well. And ever since Sandy Hook I have devoted myself to this fight and I firmly believe that the best chance we have ever had at finally bringing sanity to our guns laws is through the very people on the front lines of this issue, the students. That said, the upcoming march in Washington will likely not succeed any more than the women’s march before it or the countless protests against our fraudulent presidential election. What WILL work and has always worked as it is undefeated throughout history, is sustained civil disobedience. You want us to stand up? Let’s do ti! I am more than happy to stand with you and all of the parents and students in Westport and beyond. Please contact me and let’s work together with your fellow students from here to Parkland to build on the movement in a way that will force the hand of government to act, once and for all. I know this sounds crazy, but if you Google my name and “gun safety” you will see that I have done some of the most talked about initiatives in this cause over the last decade.



  8. Kids like this student will make the difference I believe Washington can’t ignore the military gun issue and mental health with the excuse that this is not the time to talk about it any more. It is the time NOW and I think the voice of so many teenagers across the country have found a voice and are using it. I’ll stand up with them anywhere they want me!

  9. You are wonderful. Grown ups are letting you down.

    You have power and please use it. Many companies want to sell to high schoolers-build a following and let them know you will stop buying their products unless they stand up and speak against assault rifles and get them to help you. Use your power. Gain attention by putting pressure on everything around you. Start with the companies trying to sell to you and your friends. Threats of boycotts will get their attention. You have more power than you know. Social media is free. Get high schoolers around the US to join you. Build the momentum.

    The NRA has money and they buy elections. Get companies and grown ups willing to fight the NRA to support your efforts. Unfortunately money talks in politics so make your voice louder and stronger.

    Focus-get assault rifles banned. Stop the selling of bullets for these weapons.

    Sadly this is all happening. I apologize, and will do anything to help.

  10. Now all we have to do is convince an inept Congress of the United States to pass simple laws to put this in motion and shut up an ever growing bunch of idiots called the Right Wing and the NRA to start using their brains and not treat guns like sexual extensions of thier own bodies that must be protected at all odds, regardless of how many women and children are inocently killed each year. Enough is enough!

    P.S. I love how your president said yesterday he would have run towards the gun fire if he was there. LOL. Way to lead by example, prez. This is the same coward who defered U.S. Military service 5 times to get out of going to Vietnam! Once a coward, always a coward…. And yes. I proudly enlisted, served and sacrificed 4 years of my life in the U.S. Air Force. Been there, done that, got the dog tags…

  11. call your politicians,no guns,call fed ex,call amazon to request no NRA streaming,do not support politicians who give the 2nd ammendment crap,march,rally. Stop the lunacy. No guns.

  12. Current left wing indoctrination of our youth in schools is far more dangerous to our nation, than any firearm could ever be.

  13. I respect this students letter, however, looking at the comments, I don’t see anyone addressing a big issue here…

    Since there weren’t any guns available in this situation, who/what is to blame for the behavior? The NRA?

  14. Hi Kristen,
    Believe me, I’m all for banning assault weapons.
    Perhaps my word “available” was a bad one, though the guns were locked in a safe, so I really don’t know if there was access or not.
    The fact is, this person was stopped due to his behavior and not an act (thanks to many), so my question still remains….who/what is to blame for the behavior….it’s not the NRA.
    The gun is a tool, what is the cause/reason?
    By the way, I’m not an NRA member.

    • Hi Bob,
      Simply because the disaster was averted doesn’t suddenly make everything okay. “No harm, no foul” kinda doesn’t play when the stakes are this high. Think of the psychological toll this must take on the students and teachers. Do you think they just move on?

      But to answer your other question regarding the NRA, yes, the simple fact that assault weapons are legal and manufactured for consumer use is why both the government and the NRA are complicit. Complicit in what you ask? Well, even plotting a murder is against the law- considered conspiracy. And that plot involved a “tool,” as you say, provided by the aforementioned institutions. Sort of like if you hired a hit man to take out your boss or your spouse and your plot was foiled before anything happened.

      Also, another issue that no one seems to be talking about is the pattern. Like Parkland and Sandy Hook before it, these guns were also “safely locked away” and we all know how those turned out. So what makes you so certain the locks would’ve saved the day this time? I think their is a naiveté amongst gun owners with teenagers in the house that the teens will abide by the rules. You were a teen once. Ask yourself, did you abide by your parents rules? No, you probably didn’t. You probably broke into the liquor cabinet with your friends and got shit-faced. Well, guess what, the gun cabinet is the new liquor cabinet. Plus, when you overlay this with the lack of mental and emotional development teens are notorious for, you have a recipe for disaster. So, I hate to say it, but I find the parents to be criminally negligent with the lives of our children. And I find the NRA and the government guilty of aiding and abetting.

      Just one man’s opinion.


  15. Bob,
    + kids
    = you must be a dad, instead of a mom, if you are relying on that to prevent kids getting hold of the locked guns.

    Let me tell you: every year, I lock with a key in a special Christmas closet my kids Christmas presents so that they do not sneak a preview.
    I hide the key in ingenious places — different every year, and in excruciatingly detailed layers of difficulty to access.
    NO HUMAN BEING could possibly divine the locales of the key, so elaborate is the planning and ingenious the hiding.
    Yet somehow, every year, they find it, and sneak a gander at the hidden treasures.
    Chiefly responsible for this detective work is my youngest son, who seems to have an intuitive sense of where mom is likely to think an ingenious hiding place is. (Is it all those years that I hid Easter eggs with riddles as to where the next is hidden, or the scavenger hunts I planned that caused him to have been cerebrally wired to know exactly where to look for mom’s hiding spots?)

    I don’t know why kids are so ingenious at finding what their parents hide. But this April, it will be 25 years since my twins were born, and I can tell you what I already knew before I was blessed a quarter of century ago with the gift of children: never have an AR15 or a gun that they know you own in a house with teens or kids.
    I will never forget, as a teen, babysitting for a family friend’s kids. The dad had a gun, locked in a gun cabinet and had thought he unloaded all the bullets. Another babysitter was there that night. The 12-yr old son, removed the gun from the cabinet, and fired a couple of rounds, and saw the first chambers were empty. Then he pointed it, joking, at the babysitter and fired. There was one bullet left in the last chamber that he did not know about and he killed his 16-yr old babysitter–something that he –and his parents –have had to live with for the rest of their lives.

    A lot of lives were destroyed that night by a hidden, locked, “unloaded” gun.

    “Locked” + kids = don’t rely on it — especially when it’s an AR15 in the house with hormonal, emotional teens

  16. Bob Stalling

    I hear what you’re saying Kristen….of course, it may be a combination lock, I don’t know.
    But it doesn’t answer my question.

    • Bob–
      First, thank you for your service, and for that of your family. Being a daughter of a former Marine officer, I know what that service means. So thank you.

      Second, my personal belief is that –as a general matter — families who have a veritable arsenal at their homes are implicitly (albeit perhaps not intentionally) teaching glorification of guns. So many of these young boys/men involved in mass murders came from homes where there was an arsenal of guns maintained, which often included assault weapons like AR15s, which are not for hunting, but for slaughtering human beings.

      Third, there are often other statistically significant predictors, but whether those factors were involved here, I do not know.

      One common denominator in each and every one of the gun massacres in the last couple of years is this: some mechanism –either a bump stock, an assault weapon, a semi-automatic gun, high capacity magazines — was used to permit rapid succession fire and an ability to massacre a lot of people in short order. (When you have to reload, in contrast, it gives time for people to escape).
      THAT is the common denominator in each and every case, without exception. It is the sine qua non for gun massacres.

  17. David J. Loffredo

    I watched the Newtown documentary last night on Netflix. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating how nothing has really changed since 12/14/12.

  18. Bob Stalling

    Hi Ari.
    Yes, I was a teenager once…and I grew up in Westport…and when it came to my father, I obeyed the rules. Oh, and he didn’t drink.
    My father had several military weapons in the rafters of our garage that he brought back from WW11 after serving on Iwo Jima, Tinian and Saipan as a 17 year old. Those guns were lost when our garage burnt down in the early seventies.
    My father was the scoutmaster of Troop 36 in Westport for 20 years…and Grand Marshall of the parade in 1995
    My father taught us (5 of us) about gun safety and we learned about guns and shooting taking courses at the Westport police station…
    One brother was and still is an avid hunter who was at one time President of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation….
    I used to hunt below the high water mark along the shores of Long Island Sound….while in High School at Staples.
    Three of us served in the Marine Corps….
    Another brother worked for the Forest Service in Wrangell Alaska and was required to carry a rifle to protect himself from Grizzlies…
    I also have a younger brother who is retired from the Fairfield police force…

    I guess my point is, I never said it was “okay”…. I was asking a question.

    • I get that. I also know that Adam Lanza’s mother was a gun enthusiast and maybe had family history with regard to guns. What she also had was a diagnosed mental issues kid who she allowed and taught and permitted the shared used of her guns on this very sick individual. I think being a fly on the wall so I could see what led up to her murder might absolve her in my opinion ie if she died preventing him from taking her guns…so sad yet a lesson has to be learned. The time is NOW

      • Bob Stalling

        Hi Christina,
        29 comments on this thread and you are the only person to mention a certain common denominator….mental issues.
        I commend you.

        • It IS. It isn’t either or…everyone who has the privelidge to own guns must be 100% responsible for them. I hope the father of this kid can account for his guns and his kid’s online time, his friends and his state of mind. Me thinks he is accountable

  19. Paul Argenio

    Peter I must say, you come across as very nice person.

  20. Ariane Ladd

    You’ve got a great point – the 2nd amendment should cover firearms only as strong as a musket.

    Thank you for sharing thoughts and feelings from the front line – very courageous!