On Wednesday March 14, 2018, Sacred Heart students participated in the National School walkout to end gun violence. The program lasted for 17 minutes, representing the 17 lives that were lost in the recent Parkland, Florida school shooting. Students and faculty felt that we needed to come together as a community and bring awareness to end gun violence. As the crowd gathered around the chapel, two philosophy and psychology students gave speeches and shared their opinions on the issues as well as Professor Stiltner, a professor in the office of theology, philosophy and religious studies who is also an activist for gun reform.
Many students came together to stand in solidarity and to support one another and those affected by recent and past school shootings. “The walkout was well needed, it was a way to have our voices be heard and remind us that we are a SHU family and that no one should be nervous…that we are there for one another.” said Hayley Phaneuf, a freshman at Sacred Heart University.
On a predominantly Catholic and Republican campus, it can be hard for those with differing views to feel confident to speak up and be heard. The walkout gave those a chance to voice their opinions on gun control and gather with others who have similar concerns. Students also voiced their concerns about fear and the rising gun violence issue that young people have to face today. Justyna Jablonska, a freshman at Sacred Heart University spoke out, “Our grandparents, parents, professors, were never scared to go to school in fear of not coming back home. But we have to be? All our lives have value, and even just one child’s life is worth way more than all the guns.”
Millennials today haven’t grown up in a time where gun violence wasn’t an issue and we have had enough. We are tired of living in fear, we are tired of feeling like we have to protect ourselves from shooters and always be prepared for the worst. I personally remember practicing active shooting drills as young as 5 years old in Kindergarten while my parents or grandparents never had to the same. We have grown up in a time where things like violence, rape culture, and harassment are desensitized through media content and video games. And the time is up. The time’s up on gun violence, harassment and violence of any kind.
In today’s society, it has become too easy for civilians to purchase guns and semi-automatic weapons, or accessories that enhance weapons to become semi-automatic. In the state of Florida, it is harder to have access to Sudafed (a common cold medicine), a marriage license, fertilizer exceeding a quantity of 25 pounds, anti-diarrhea medication, and medical marijuana than it is to purchase an AR-15. Moto Adika, a gun store owner, was quoted in a CBS article, “If you are a law-abiding citizen, then we can sell you that gun. The whole process can take no more than 15 minutes.” See the full article here.
When is enough going to be enough? To take action in your local community, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. The Right to Our Lives march is being held in many cities around the world on March 24, 2018. You can also reach out to your local officials and voice your opinions, and take part in organizations on campus itself such as the SHU Students Against Gun Violence group forming at Sacred Heart.