Opinion: Students fire back at gun regulations

Genesis Hansen, Columnist

Activist march takes schools by storm

A 19-year-old man, who purchased an AR-15 rifle without any legal or systematic prevention, took the lives of 17 students and teachers in a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14. 

Outraged and brimming with grief, high school students openly challenged government officials and society at large to become active against gun violence and prioritize regulation. With the help of social media, the March For Our Lives movement reached all corners of the Internet.

March 24 is the national date for the march against gun violence. Held in Washington, D.C., students around the nation and the world are participating in this passion-driven movement.

Grace Knutsen is a junior at Corvallis High School. Knutsen was in search of a march near Corvallis to participate in and when she couldn’t find one close enough to attend, she took the initiative and created one herself.

“I was thinking, you know what? I can do that,” Knutsen said.

Working with the leadership staff at Associated Students of Oregon State University, Knutsen found support, advice and strategies to bring her ideas to life. The March for Our Lives event will take place on March 24 from 10:30 a.m. to noon, with a pre-event gathering at 10 a.m. 

“This march shows that students are responsible, that we care for our safety and we will make really good leaders someday,” Knutsen said.

According to Knutsen, Corvallis High School student body has been supportive of the event and a good amount of students have volunteered to help organize various march committees. 

Concerned for the students, teachers and faculty, Knutsen takes this movement with determination and demands change.

“The moment your leaders start acting like children is when you see children acting like leaders,” Knutsen quoted from a popular saying currently circulating on social media. “Students aren’t going to stop until they are taken seriously.”

Since representatives stand for us, as well as the non-student population, they should be held accountable for the tragedy their policies have created.

Christopher Riddle is an associate professor of philosophy at Utica College. Specializing in applied ethics, he’s been published in the scholarly journal titled, “Essays on Philosophy.” 

“I suggest that rights that involve more preference satisfaction, the right to own a gun for recreational purposes, should be trumped when at odds with rights that are intrinsically good, such as the right to bodily health and to be free from violent assault and bodily injury,” Riddle said.

The philosophical approach to natural rights states that each person has the proper ability to act upon their self-interest, as well as protect their birthright to self-preservation of life and liberty. This right to liberty can only be activated without hindrance or impediment by others.

Students are marching because their natural rights are being squashed and ignored. Legislatures and representatives are neglecting the most basic human rights that we have as individuals.

“Common sense gun legislation doesn’t just protect students. It protects teachers and faculty as well,” Knutsen said.

Jonathan Stoll is the director of Corvallis community relations as well as the interim assistant dean of student life. His work relates to free speech, student activism and helps to protect students’ rights. 

“Politicians don’t generally cater to the interest of 18-to-24-year-olds because historically they don’t show up to the polls, but there is a silver lining and I think that we will see more political engagement,” Stoll said. “Our country is rooted in activism.” 

This march is about more than just gun regulation. It’s about acknowledging our rights as people, demanding equal value amongst citizens and protecting our future in this society. We must ban together whether that means marching, voting, writing to our representatives or making our stance known. 

“What makes us different isn’t our differences, but the differences that we can make,” Stoll said. 

Regardless of one’s political party, social standing or personal beliefs, this affects the safety and peace of mind of everyone and we should prioritize this as a people and as a government.

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