My name is Sophia Hernandez and I am a freshman at Santa Monica High School. Recently there has been an increase in the amount of school shootings in the US. This year alone, there have been over 27 school shootings. Earlier this year, my school got a threat for a school shooting. At the time, I was sick so I wasn’t at school. My friends had called me during lunch, scared that it was the last call they were going to make. Luckily, nothing happened and it was a false threat. Sadly, this incident hasn’t occurred in just my school, it happens all over the U.S. and it has changed my opinion about how we should handle gun violence.

When I was in kindergarten, 2013, there was a shooting at SMC. I remember going into lockdown and since I was very young, I had no idea what was going on. The only thing I remember was everyone had to stay silent. Years later, I was in fifth grade, nervous about my orchestra audition and if I had placed well. I was so anxious and kept going online to distract myself and then I saw what was trending. The day was February 14th, 2018, the day of the shooting in Parkland, Florida. I felt like crying because this was my first real understanding of gun violence and the worries of my placement for orchestra had been long forgotten. This was the moment where I realized gun violence is a problem that needs to be solved. 

Every year gun violence grows into a bigger and bigger problem. More and more people die for no reason, but there is a reason, and that reason is mental health. In my opinion, the main reason behind a shooting is the state of the shooter’s mental health. For example, Nickolas Cruz, the alleged shooter in Florida, had been physically and mentally abused. Being abused in any sort of way sets a long path to having mental health problems in the future. He didn’t get along with people and his classmates made fun of him. Cruz wasn’t the only one with mental health problems, most of the shooters have been bullied or outcast and felt the need to get ¨revenge¨. They show many signs before shooting. Whether it’s posting something about the shooting online or just simply threatening a peer. In order to stop these shootings from happening, we need to see the signs beforehand and have mental health evaluations if we do see the signs. 

In addition, we need to have stricter gun rules if a person were to buy a gun. The AR- 15 gun Nickolas used in the Parkland shooting was a legally purchased gun. He was only 18 and was able to buy a gun with no problem. In fact, he wasn’t the only one. Days after he had just turned 18, Slavador Ramos purchased a gun and went on a shooting spree at an elementary school killing 21 people. No one had done a background check, or even a mental health evaluation before he bought his gun. In Australia, they enforced strict rules in order to buy a gun. This contained bigger background checks and a gun license was needed. Did these rules and regulations stop the mass shootings in Australia? Not really, but they did lessen the amount and in the past five years, they have only had one shooting while here in the U.S we have more than 300 per year. 

Now because this is all my opinion and I am just 14 years old and haven’t had the same amount of education most things adults would have, I would understand if you bypass my op- ed. But there is one thing I want to ask. Why make millions of innocent people suffer mentally and physically after these shootings? The sooner we enforce laws on buying a gun, the sooner these shootings stop happening and the world may not be perfect after these laws, but they can stop many people from dying. So just think about the families that are suffering because of gun violence. Think about how gun violence is the #1 cause of death of children in America. Think about how no one is taking action to pass a law to stop these shootings from happening. Once you think about these things and speak up about them, maybe the U.S will finally do something good with the power they have, and that good is stopping gun violence. 

Sophia Hernandez, Santa Monica