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21st Century Weapons, 18th Century Laws

Positive. Passionate. Proud. These three words are the staple of Stoneman Douglas High School. How many times, in assemblies, and in the classroom, have Bedford students been told to uphold similar values? Following Parkland’s tragic shooting, many have become disturbed upon realizing how much the two schools have in common. The looming question, what about us?, has inspired many to push for change, and, in turn, inspired others to defend systems that are currently in place. These respective attitudes are reflected in student-conducted events, such as the Walk Out and the Freedom Rally, and have brought the conversation of gun control to Bedford High School’s very doorstep. The idea that something needs to change is undeniable, but the question of what that is remains disputed. It is my firm belief that the answer entails revitalizing the relaxed gun regulations that New Hampshire currently possesses. Noel Desmarais, a predominant figurehead of the Walk Out movement, endorses this solution. However, Will Bernier, the head of the Freedom Rally, vehemently dissents. Although one solution seems to be common sense for more liberal-standing individuals, it may seem like complete insanity to those with conservative values. So, why do these discrepancies exist? Why do these two leaders think the way that they do?
Are mass shootings in America even a pressing issue? Approximately 1,077 innocent people have been killed in non-gang related mass shootings within America since 1966. This number seems relatively small when compared to common causes of death within the US, such as unintentional drowning within swimming pools, which is estimated to cause about ten deaths daily. However, it is huge on a global scale. Within a study conducted by the University of Alabama in 2016, which pulled data from 1966-2012, America secured the number-one position for most mass shootings in any country around the world. Although the US comprises less than 5% of the world’s population, it has housed 31% of global mass shooters. Even so, Bernier asserts that mass shootings are not a prevalent issue in this country; “I would not consider mass shootings to be a serious issue in this country, I think that it’s completely overblown (…) A lot of this is fear-mongering from the press.” Although the numbers are not gargantuan, mass shootings are an issue specific to this country. Even this town has seen the torment that gun violence can cause; in 2015, a mother shot and killed her own two children, then herself, using a gun that she attained through her husband’s gun shop. Desmarais, having lived within the very same neighborhood as the family during this tragedy, had a particularly passionate rebuttal to Bernier’s claim; “My response to that would be to look at the newspapers and the news and to see that they (mass shootings) are not covered as much anymore, because we have so many of them”
What is the best solution to this issue? Both leaders agree that education is a necessity to reaching a reasonable conclusion. Bernier challenges liberals on their knowledge about guns, even saying “(If you) know anything about the function of a firearm, you’re gonna lean more right, just because usually when you know more about firearms, you start to realize that there is no sensible argument to restrict them.” Experience is always a commodity within this debate, and Bernier believes the left to be somewhat lacking in that department. Desmarais admits that he, himself, only recently became politically involved; but he immersed himself in everything ‘gun related’, and encourages everyone to “Get educated, get informed, vote.” However, their ultimate solutions differ: Bernier believes in treating students with kindness, rather than restricting the second amendment. Desmarais, citing his own experience with mentally ill individuals, states “Thinking that just being nice to someone is going to stop them from shooting up a school (…) that’s not how mental health works” The Walk Out leader strongly believes in strengthening background checks, as well as limiting accessibility to firearms for the mentally unfit within New Hampshire.
Both of these individuals share an admirable passion for their respective causes, and continue to push their agendas with the intention to make change. Dear BHS students, this issue affects each and every one of us. Make your opinion heard, and get involved in this pressing cause. As Desmarais once stated, “Passionate people are powerful”.

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