Guest Columnist

A year after Parkland, Iowa amendment would weaken gun laws

Mira Bohannan-Kumar, a junior at Iowa City High School, talks to a group of students from Iowa City High School and South East Junior High School during a rally on the Pedestrian Mall after walking out of class in Iowa City on Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. The Students Against School Shootings group at Iowa City High School and South East Junior High School organized the walkout and marched to the Pedestrian Mall on the 6th anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Mira Bohannan-Kumar, a junior at Iowa City High School, talks to a group of students from Iowa City High School and South East Junior High School during a rally on the Pedestrian Mall after walking out of class in Iowa City on Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. The Students Against School Shootings group at Iowa City High School and South East Junior High School organized the walkout and marched to the Pedestrian Mall on the 6th anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Last month marked the anniversary of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. If one positive thing could come out of a tragedy, it’s that students in Florida and all across the country have started to use their voice to drive change for gun safety. After hearing about the shooting, my friends and I couldn’t shake the feeling that what had happened in Parkland could easily happen to our high school — so we decided to take action. We started Students Against School Shootings (SASS) to help organize protests, walkouts at our local schools, and advocate for gun control.

As high school students trying to make schools safer, it was very disappointing to hear about legislators wanting to change the Iowa Constitution regarding 2nd Amendment rights in a way that could weaken safety measures that keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. More disappointing was the proposal’s passage through the Iowa House and Senate, because it creates a variety of problems, most notably weakening our current gun laws and potentially eradicating background checks. Background checks are one of the only regulations standing between a dangerous person and a gun.

This isn’t a partisan issue. Iowans overwhelmingly support background checks on gun purchases. In a recent poll of likely Iowa voters, 86 percent said they support requiring background checks on all gun buyers. With so many Iowans supporting background checks, we are hopeful legislators will take this into consideration and think about community safety.

Mass shootings have become such a recurring event in our society that we have become desensitized to the lives lost, and quickly move on after each tragedy. SASS doesn’t want the memory of Parkland victims to be forgotten, so we are fighting in their memory to make sure that school shootings never happen again. The United States has felt the pain of mass shootings time after time, even before we were born, but we still haven’t seen any progress toward stronger gun laws at the statehouse or at the federal level.

As high school students, our free time should be full of sports, time with friends and family, and choosing which college to attend next year. But because we don’t believe our legislators are taking the necessary steps to ensure our safety in school, our free time has become devoted to fighting for gun safety and making schools safer any way that we can. We are registering teens to vote, writing letters, calling our representatives and organizing events to bring more awareness to our cause. We are proud of the work that we are doing, but we can’t do it alone.

Iowa doesn’t need weaker gun laws. We won’t let the Parkland victims’ memories be forgotten, and we won’t stand for these senseless murders to continue. What happened in Parkland could happen in any high school across the United States, it could happen in Iowa. It’s time for a change, and it’s time for our representatives to start taking this matter seriously.

• Theo Prineas, Crystal Kim, Drew Owen, Nina Lavezzo-Stecopolous, Esti Brady, Phoebe Chapnick-Sorokin, Shoshie Hemley, and Shayna Jaskolka are members of Students Against School Shootings. They attend City or West high schools in Iowa City, or the University of Iowa.

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