Gun violence in schools, why haven’t we seen change

After Oxford, when will this pattern end?


Zyanya Garcia

Another tragedy and another life taken. How many more lives have to suffer before we see change?

More blood has spilled and more hands have been stained. Oxford High School in Oakland County, Michigan will forever reside within a haunting fog of violence, all while carrying four now empty desks. This is yet another tragic example of how guns are mishandled and what happens when issues are not addressed.

Oxford High School faced immeasurable tragedy Nov. 30, 2021 when a 15-year-old began shooting at his classmates during a passing period. Four were killed and seven others were injured, including a teacher. 

The four killed were all students. They were Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17.

After investigation, it was revealed that the shooter’s parents had provided him with the gun just four days before the shooting. The gun was supposedly a Christmas present. 

It was also uncovered that there were multiple warning signs, meaning this situation could have been avoided. This includes numerous social media posts, disturbing notes, and even an in-person meeting. 

The perpetrator is now being charged as an adult with one count of terrorism causing death and four counts of first-degree murder. Now on a $500,000 bond, the shooter’s parents are currently facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter. They are continuing to plead not guilty despite the fact that they allowed unrestricted access to the gun used by their son.

There are many things to be angry and frustrated about, the number of lives lost and forever traumatized, the missed opportunities to which could have prevented the tragedy, and how nothing has changed despite the terrifying trend. There is nothing we can do about the past except reflect and work towards a better future where parents and students alike do not have to fear going to school.

One of the most prominent concerns I have is the lack of security behind guns and youth. This is such an issue that the U.S. Secret Service constructed an analysis detailing how to look for and prevent possible gun violence in schools, mainly focusing on plotters who’s plans were obstructed. According to the analysis, “many of the student plotters had access to weapons, including unimpeded access to firearms.”

Minimizing risk and threat is key to a safer environment for all. Extreme Risk laws are a way to begin and 19 states have already passed them. Another way to prevent such events is to provide students with more than adequate mental health resources where they can receive the help they need and deserve before they resort to committing crimes. 

There have been threats made to various schools in Ventura County, specifically the Oxnard School District where the situation was addressed in an email to families Dec. 9, 2021. Following that, rumours began circulating about Buena High School also receiving threats. 

“I’m always thinking about it,” says Delgado. “Like what I would do if it happened and where I would go.”

— Ebony Delgado

On that same day, Buena’s principal, Dr. Audrey Asplund said in an email to parents “we take these threats very seriously…we encourage all members of our community to say something if they see or hear something that is concerning.”

Junior Ebony Delgado recounts making plans in her head about various ways to get to safety in case of an emergency. “I’m always thinking about it,” says Delgado. “Like what I would do if it happened and where I would go.”

It’s a common pattern to see numerous violent threats after a mass shooting, however with the rise of social media, such threats are being made nationwide. A TikTok trend has coined Dec 17, 2021 to be National Shoot Up Your School Day. An email and phone call was sent out to parents Dec. 16, 2021 relaying the situation and reassuring parents that Buena is safe. 

Ventura Unified School District’s superintendent, Dr. Roger Rice, stated in the email, “While the post does not target VUSD schools specifically and we have not received any credible information that our students have shared these posts, we wanted to make our families and staff aware.”

School shootings have become a normalized topic among students in the United States. Just like the TikTok trend, this current era of technology makes information easier and faster to spread. No longer is it a faraway nightmare, but a genuine danger to the livelihood and well-being of students around the country. 

Dec. 14, 2021 marks nine years since 26 lives were stolen at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Most of the victims would have been 14 or 15 years old this year.  

Ten killed in Santa Fe in 2018; 13 killed at Columbine in 1999; 17 killed in Parkland in 2018; 20 killed at Kerch Polytechnic in 2018; and 32 killed at Virginia Tech in 2007. 

The list goes on, too many lives have been lost as a result of gun violence and mass shootings. Honor these souls by being part of the change. If you see something, say something.