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In the wake of the shooting that killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last week, students and legislators across the country have begun mobilizing in support of stricter gun control legislation.

Over the past week, Yale students have organized a vigil to honor the victims of gun violence, and many are advocating for a sustained conversation about gun control.

“It’s alarming the degree to which [shootings have] become commonplace and normalized,” said Jordan Cozby ’20, president of the Yale College Democrats. “I’m glad to see that people have reacted very strongly to this incident and haven’t let it go.”

Carrie Mannino ’20, an editor for the News, and Ananya Kumar-Banerjee ’21 are planning the vigil, which will take place Sunday night on Cross Campus. Mannino said she hopes the vigil will act as a way for students to come together and honor those affected by gun violence.

She added that the event is also a call to action for students to get more deeply involved in the effort to change gun laws.

“I fear that even mass school shootings are becoming so routine, and I don’t want it to be so routine that we let it just keep happening,” Mannino said. “[We’re] having a vigil to give people a moment to collect their thoughts, but also to encourage them to start trying to do things about the issue.”

Rohan Naik ’18, who led a gun buyback program in partnership with Yale New Haven Hospital and the New Haven Police Department as his capstone project for the human rights program this past year, emphasized the importance of continuing the conversation about gun violence.

Both Mannino and Naik acknowledged that they have been surprised by what they see as a lack of activism concerning gun violence on campus.

“It’d be nice to see more students get involved and start thinking about how we can deal with gun violence on a national level,” Naik said. “The real question is, ‘How do we have a sustained effort?’”

While conversations among students about gun law help to change the narrative concerning gun legislation, Cozby said, progress concerning this issue will “take federal action.”

But he also acknowledged that many members of Congress are beholden to the National Rifle Association and most likely will not support gun reforms. In order to see “substantive meaningful changes,” he said, voters must vote out members of Congress who have taken money from the NRA and elect other leaders.

Darnell Goldson, elected member of District 2 in New Haven and a member of the New Haven Board of Education, agreed that voting is an important way to effect positive change, since “the legislature is not going to move on its own.”

Ali Bauman ’21, who is a member of Yale Democrats and is helping with the vigil, agreed that powerful lobbies like the NRA influence politicians’ aims.

“The politicians are really responding to the voices of the NRA and not the people,” Bauman said. “When big money is putting lives at risk it really exposes the politicians’ true aims.”

She noted that many Americans, in fact, support gun reform and that there is a disconnect between what Americans believe gun control should be and what policy makers are enacting. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday, American support for gun control has been at an all-time high over the past 10 years.

Since the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting that killed 20 6- and 7-year-old children and seven adults in Newtown, Connecticut, the state has enacted some of the toughest gun laws in the country — including bans on the sale of assault weapons and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds — and its congressional delegation has been among the most vocal on the issue.

After the most recent shooting in Parkland, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., an outspoken gun control advocate, has once again raised his voice in support of stricter gun laws.

“Yet Congress, to my disgust, has failed to act in any meaningful way to address this problem,” Murphy wrote on his website.

In the days after the shooting at Parkland, thousands of students, teachers and others across the country rallied together to protest the federal government’s lack of gun control. On Monday, students staged a “die-in” in front of the White House to honor those killed in Parkland and to protest President Donald Trump’s lack of action.

Ward 8 Alder and member of the Aldermanic Education Committee Aaron Greenberg praised those students’ actions.

“It’s been really impressive to see students from coast to coast advocating for safety in schools and standing up to Republican lawmakers and the gun lobby,” he said. “Students have done an incredible job and been so brave in their efforts.”

On Thursday, Trump said that teachers should be armed in order to increase school safety. Goldson, reflecting the sentiments of many across the country, said “the smarter thing” is to keep guns out of schools entirely.

Greenberg also condemned Trump’s suggestions to bring guns into educational centers, saying that the New Haven Code of Ordinances reflects the view of the city and hopefully most of its residents that “guns have no place in schools.”

Mannino said that arming teachers is not the correct answer and that gun control “doesn’t seem complicated to me at all.” She said she wants to become a teacher and that she should not have to worry about being shot.

“When I become a teacher I don’t want to be in my classroom and thinking about what the plan is if a shooter comes in,” she said. “I don’t want to live in that age of fear, I want to be a teacher, and I don’t think that that should be a dangerous profession.”

The vigil will be held this Sunday Feb. 25 on Cross Campus at 5:45 p.m.

Chloe Glass | chloe.glass@yale.edu

  • Nancy Morris

    A curious response. The Washington Post went back to the Newtown shooting in 2012 and chose 12 mass shootings to analyze. Fact-checkers concluded that none of the shootings would have been avoided by passing new laws currently under discussion.

    The factual correlation – if there is any – between gun ownership and killings is very weak or even negative, so why do these Yalies focus on that aspect, other than as an inappropriate and self-indulgent emotional release? Various studies reveal the gun-control hypesters’ worst nightmare…more people are buying firearms, while firearm-related homicides and suicides are steadily diminishing. What crackpots came up with these conclusions? One set of statistics was compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice. The other was reported by the Pew Research Center. Do Yalies read about such things?

    On the other hand, it’s probably no big stretch of imagination to correlate the nation’s grossly disproportionate crime and victimization rates with comparably staggering rates of single-parent families, those without fathers in particular. Why aren’t Yalies rallying against fatherless families and demanding that something be done about that problem? More generally, there is now a great deal of concern in the #Metoo quarter, and given what we know about the life quality of children in fatherless homes, such a man is clearly an ultimate sexual abuser. So why isn’t there more focus on such men?

    According to DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. gun-related homicides dropped 39 percent over the course of 18 years, from 18,253 during 1993, to 11,101 in 2011. During the same period, non-fatal firearm crimes decreased even more, a whopping 69 percent. The majority of those declines in both categories occurred during the first 10 years of that time frame. Firearm homicides declined from 1993 to 1999, rose through 2006, and then declined again through 2011. Non-fatal firearm violence declined from 1993 through 2004, then fluctuated in the mid-to-late 2000s.

    The Pew study, drawn from numbers obtained from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also found a dramatic drop in gun crime over the past two decades. Their accounting shows a 49 percent decline in the homicide rate, and a 75 percent decline of non-fatal violent crime victimization. More than 8 in 10 gun homicide victims in 2010 were men and boys. Fifty-five percent of the homicide victims were black, far beyond their 13 percent share of the population. Failure to take effective action, as opposed to concentrating on symbolic, emotionally satisfying and self-indulgent actions, against gun violence has serious civil rights components.

    Pew researchers observed that the huge amount of attention devoted to gun violence incidents in the media has caused most Americans to be unaware that gun crime is “strikingly down” from 20 years ago. In fact, gun-related homicides in the late 2000s were “equal to those not seen since the early 1960s.” Yet their survey found that 56 percent believed gun-related crime is higher, 26 percent believed it stayed about the same, and 6 percent didn’t know. Only 12 percent of those polled thought it was lower. Could similar media-infused delusions be affecting Yale students?

    Firearms sellers can thank the gun-control legislation lobbies for much of their business. Marked demand increases were witnessed thanks to the 2008 and 2012 elections of Barack Obama, U.S. history’s most successful, if unintentional, gun salesman as president. The firearms market got a huge added boost after the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut activated a renewed legislative frenzy. With Trump’s election gun sales have been down, but the media frenzy following the Florida tragedy may well boost them again.

    Is John Lott, the author of “More Guns, Less Crime” right? Does the rapid growth of gun ownership and armed citizens have anything to do with a diminishing gun violence trend? His expansive research concludes that state “shall issue” laws which allow citizens to carry concealed weapons do produce a steady decrease in violent crime. He explains that this is logical because criminals are deterred by the risk of attacking an armed target, so as more citizens arm themselves, danger to the criminals increases.

    Whether or not you buy that reasoning, what about the notion that tougher gun laws have or would make any difference? With the toughest gun laws in the nation, Chicago saw homicides jump to 513 in 2012, a 15% hike in a single year. The city’s murder rate was 15.65 per 100,000 people, compared with 4.5 for the Midwest, and 5.6 for Illinois, and things have got worse in Chicago since then.

    Up to 80 percent of Chicago murders and non-fatal shootings are gang- related, primarily young black and Hispanic men killed by other black and Hispanic men. Would tightening gun laws even more, or “requiring” background checks, change these conditions?

    Gun violence has been trending downward since 1993 when it hit its last peak. Don’t want to credit a rise in gun ownership and concealed carry by law-abiding citizens for this good news? Fine. But then, don’t imagine that gun legislation is the reason or answer either. Leave that illusion to gun-control cheerleaders in the media.

    • ShadrachSmith

      It’s a virtue signaling ritual.

      • Nancy Morris

        Yes. And cheap mass entertainment, like Huxley’s “feelies.”

  • Young Doctor Yung

    “Yale students rally for gun control”.
    Yale students invite ASAP Ferg, “I’ll put 2 clips to your spine” to assist the merriment at Spring Fling.
    Typically Yale.
    Abhorrently hypocritical.