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 | firstname.lastname@example.org