An American Debate: Gun Control

Sophie Sun, Reporter

On Jan. 6, a 6-year-old at Richneck Elementary in Virginia brought his mother’s gun to school and shot his teacher. This shooting has reignited a debate about gun laws and regulations in the U.S., as it exemplifies a growing issue with gun control and minors having access to weapons. 

According to the CDC, more Americans died of gun-related injuries in 2020 than any other year. On average, there are 20 mass shootings per year in the United States. From 1966 to 2020, mass shootings have multiplied over 13 times. In 2022, there were 51 school shootings that resulted in injury or death. 

These statistics have led to a nationwide call from many people for more stringent gun control. 

Due to the high amount of school shootings, most U.S. high schools have increased gun regulations and student protection by implementing school resource officers (SROs). These officers act as deterrents to trespassers on campus and usually patrol school campuses in uniform with firearms. 

At PV High, students have their very own school resource officer: Bob Watt.

“The key to a safe school is communication and training,” Watt said. “Communication among faculty, staff, students, administrators and simple training as far as active shooter training, overall safety training, we administer that on a regular basis as well.”

In the event there is an active shooter on campus, Officer Watt says three words: Run, Hide, Fight. 

“If you can run away from the situation, run, absolutely. If you can’t, then you can hide from the situation. If the incident is something you’re a part of, unfortunately you’d have to fight,” Watt said.

To ensure student safety, campus supervisors work with administrators and Officer Watt. They keep track of student schedules, take note when things seem off, and stay in communication with each other so they have eyes all over campus. 

The adults patrolling school in golf carts aren’t just there to make sure tudents aren’t skipping class—they keep an eye out for student safety and are key to preventing trespassers on school grounds.

According to CNN, as of January 2023, there have already been 39 mass shootings in the United States. 

Recent events involving dancers in Monterey Park and the teacher at Richneck Elementary show that current gun regulations do not deter mass shootings.  

At a gun show in Las Vegas on Jan. 16, student protesters with Students Demand Action protested the SHOT Show, which included an AR-15 marketed towards children. Some of the protesters, victims of school shootings and gun violence themselves, expressed how afraid they are to venture outside and participate in class. 

“I think there needs to be some kind of regulation, but a bad person will get a gun in his or her hands whether there’s regulations or not,” Watt said. “So are you regulating good people from having guns? That’s the discussion.”

Some fervently fight for stricter laws while others take a more lenient approach. Debates about gun control are far from over.