Gun ViolenceBy Ella Bakker
Junior at Bend Senior High School
Since the beginning of high school, I've become particularly interested in politics. Topics I'm most interested in include women's rights, LGBTQ+ rights, abortion rights and health care. When the opportunity to share my opinions with the community arose, I was very interested. One of the topics I am most fascinated by is gun control. Gun control is a divisive, complicated issue that has affected many people.
I am 16 and not yet able to vote, so I find that it's important to be involved with the community while inspiring change in any way I can. Although I would be quite content if guns only existed in the hands of qualified, racially unbiased law enforcement and other individuals on behalf of our nation's defense. I know that this is not possible, both in the current political climate, and given our constitutional rights.
The Second Amendment protects the right of any American citizen to bear arms and to protect themselves against any form of danger, including to defend themselves against a tyrannical government. Currently, many Americans feel safer in their homes with a gun; in this case acting as a form of defense in reaction to a potential intruder or threat. I don't believe this right should be taken from anyone. Unfortunately, in reality, this right is abused and has caused great tragedy. I don't have to remind you of the school shootings we seem to watch pass on a near monthly basis, or individual inner city shootings caused by guns put in the wrong hands. If you are a parent, the fear of a school shooting has probably crossed your mind, or even caused you anxiety.
If you're a high school student, like me, you've probably also experienced this fear. In my hometown, Chicago, Illinois (sometimes known as Chiraq), there exists some of the highest levels of gun violence in the country. The fact that this fear and these threats are completely preventable is, frankly, depressing and unacceptable. As a community, as a society—we must come together and make a bipartisan decision to create stricter gun laws. In conversations I've had with classmates who are anti-gun control, I find that we actually have several beliefs in common.
In the end, we want maximum benefits to all while preserving the basic rights that all persons are entitled to. In my mind, strict regulation should include thorough background checks. Mental health status, criminal history, and household information (for example, the presence of minors would entail ensuring a safe locked position for the weapon).
Looking beyond all these issues and the division they create, what is most important is that we include and respect the opinions of all people—politicians, citizens, and even teenagers like myself.
We need to find empathy and respect within ourselves in order to generate positive change. In the undying words of Mahatma Ghandi, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."