Teen Gun Possesion is on the Rise

By Rachel Zaretsky — Correspondent

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution grants Americans the right to bear arms. There are about 393 million guns owned in the U.S. meaning there are more guns than people.

Americans have been purchasing a record number of weapons, especially during the first few months of the pandemic. The country has also seen a rise in suicides and shootings.

“[Gun violence is] a political hotbed. Both parties struggle with getting guns off of the street but also not to infringe on a person’s 2nd amendment,” said SHS school resource officer Mike Hocking.

Gun regulation laws have been heavily debated by politicians for years, but not much action has been taken. 

Enforcing gun control laws may help, but gun advocates argue that these laws will only take guns away from ordinary civilians. Criminals will find a way to access guns through the black market if they are desperate. 

A recent report revealed that teens nowadays have admitted to underage carrying of guns. Around 1,078,000 teenagers carried a gun in 2020, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

“Guns are, unfortunately, easily accessible and coupled with teenagers. [The] ‘nothing will happen to me’ attitude makes it understandable why teenagers are carrying guns,” said Hocking.

“Most teenagers are very impulsive and do things without thinking of a consequence,” Hocking added.

In fact, the number of teens bringing guns to school has drastically increased. A study from the journal Pediatrics reveals that around 1 of 18 students bring guns to school.

SHS forensics teacher Ms. Mary Nitschke says that the media greatly influences teens. “I think many teens may have started to carry guns due to their prevalence in the media (social media, video games, the news),” said Nitschke.

“Teens may think it’s not a big deal or that they need it for protection or as part of an identity they want to express,” Nitschke added.

Boston Public Schools have reported that eight guns have been brought into their buildings as of the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. 

Boston Schools are not the only district that has had such encounters. There have been 55 school shootings across the United States this year, but 2021 had an all-time high with 249 school shootings.

Campus Safety, a database for campus security specialists, defines a school shooting as:

“Every instance a gun is brandished, fired, or a bullet hits school property for any reason, regardless of the number of victims, time, day of the week, or reason,”

“I think some teens may be more prone to picking up a gun than others because of the varied experiences and influences in their life. The messages that everyone (but especially teens) get can be very powerful and can make them feel like this is what they ‘have to do’,” said Nitschke.

“I feel that the students most protected from these types of messages are those that have learned how to critically think about these and other types of messaging,” added Nitschke.

Education on this issue is crucial in order for anything to change, as the number of gun-related deaths increases. “Students should educate themselves on the dangers of guns,” reminded Hocking.

“I think students can become actively involved through advocating for better mental health care and enacting better protections over who can obtain firearms…[and] being aware of warning signs that they may see in their friends and feeling comfortable talking to an adult whenever they have concerns about their safety or the safety of others,” said Nitschke.

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