School Shootings and Gun Regulation Concerns Raised Again After Lockdown, Students Speak Out

As another school shooting terrorized an American high school in late 2021, the conversations around gun violence and stricter gun policies are once again being brought up. The Oxford High School shooting on Nov. 30, 2021, resulted in the death of four students while six others were wounded. The accused shooter was 15-year-old student Ethan Crumbley, who, as authorities believe, received the weapon as an early Christmas present from his parents. This was the deadliest school shooting on a K-12 campus in the US since May 2018, but according to Education Week, it was the thirty-first in 2021. 

Excluding misfires and stopped attempts, there have been 231 school shootings since the infamous Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999. As a result, “internal threat” drills have become routine drills at many high schools, including Westwood. Students are practicing how to stay put, flee, and defend themselves against potential threats which, as the statistics suggest, could be a gunman. Just on Wednesday, Jan. 19, Westwood went on lockdown due to reports of an external threat in the area that were being investigated by the Austin Police Department.

Westwood students were interviewed on their opinions on school shootings and how safe they feel at school. 

“It brings out the anger in me, the fact that so many [school shootings] happen and that not really anything is done about [them],” Milena Jandreski ‘23 said. “I think at a certain point you would think they would take actual working precautionary measures. Yet it seems like guns are just some legal loophole where no one wants to regulate them, no one wants to do mental health checks on their students, no one wants to actually take precautions that would help save us.”

Some students are unsatisfied with knowing that high schools continue to be attacked and that they themselves can’t do anything to secure their safety from such a threat.

“When I hear about school shootings I feel sad because it’s scary to think something like that could happen to us here and also angry because it sucks that people are out there shooting up schools,” Dylan Kahanek ‘23 said. “I feel very safe here. I don’t think Westwood would be in any danger. I think that we have two school [resource officers] (SROS) and I believe that in the face of adversity they would rise to the occasion and valiantly defend the students of this school.”

Westwood has had rumors and threats about school shooters or potential threats in the past. The week of midterms in December, an email addressed such rumors about a student that made threats towards campus safety, and Round Rock ISD Police was involved to assure that the student involved never posed a threat nor any actual danger. Despite the caution and awareness on the subject, many students aren’t constantly in fear while they are in school. 

“I feel safe [at Westwood] because I definitely don’t think about that on a daily basis at all. But when I’m reminded, I feel scared,” Naty Sosa ‘23 said. “I watched th[is] news about this high schooler who said something like: I know the time will come and eventually my school will be the next one to have a shooting because you can never know, it’s just something that happens.”

Since a solution to the issue hasn’t been implemented and is hard to determine, students are left wondering and trying to assess society’s behavior.

“I think it’s a very hard situation that I wouldn’t know how to fix, but I don’t think guns are the problem… Even though I think we should have more restrictions, I don’t think that would solve the problem,” Naty Sosa ‘23 said. “I don’t understand why kids are doing [this] but what I do know is that it only happens in America, and that’s [suspicious]. I think there is a problem with the whole system and the whole society that [makes] kids feel a lot of anger against the system….and that’s why they gotta let it out like that. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I know it’s a problem with American culture.”

In 2022, the first incident of school gun violence has already occurred. On Tuesday, Jan. 4, two students were shot and injured while sitting in a car in their school parking lot at Auburn High School in Rockford, Illinois.