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Our lives over politics

The power in our voices
Joshua Sonnenberg ’25

It’s the first week of December in 2021. A week that is usually filled with excitement and cheer of the coming holiday season suddenly has a different tone. The Oxford shooting had occurred that Tuesday, and many students at South, as well as throughout Michigan, were living in a constant state of fear. It was rumored that Ethan Crumbly, the teen behind the tragic series of events at Oxford, was in a group chat with several other students in the area who wanted to mimic the tragedy inflicted on the Oxford community. Students were so afraid that they began to leave school. Eventually, several administrations canceled classes due to these threats. According to the Detroit Free Press, the Wayne County prosecutor’s office charged 18 youths with crimes relating to school threats following the Oxford shooting. We at the Tower believe that schools should not be a place where students have to fear for their lives.

Despite the sharp upturn in school shootings and overall violence as a result of firearm accessibility, relatively little legislation has been passed to end the bloodshed. Somehow, the lives of children have become a political issue. A bipartisan bill that would expand background checks for all firearm sales or transfers in the country, HR-8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, failed to pass in the Senate. Bill HR 1446 would close what’s known as the “Charleston loophole,” which allows for the approval of some licensed gun sales before a required background check is done. Unfortunately, this bill is projected to be dismissed in the Senate as well. Whatever one’s political view may be, society is universally against the slaughtering of children. So why won’t Congress take action? We at The Tower believe gun violence is a human issue, not a political one. We cannot sit around any longer as children are dying around us. The United States needs change.

Students should be able to devote one hundred percent of their attention at school to their education, yet unfortunately, this is not a reality in the United States. Every day our generation of students are scared, terrified even, to go to school. Nearly every time a lockdown gets called during the school day, at least one person questions, “Is this real or just a drill?” A wave of relief spans the classroom when the teacher says the lockdown drill was a scheduled event. We at The Tower wish that we lived in a world where students wouldn’t be afraid to go to school. However, with the lack of progress being made in anti-gun legislation, fear in school environments will not dissipate any time soon.

Even though the burden of reducing gun violence in schools shouldn’t be placed on students, the lack of action in Congress leaves us with no choice. We at The Tower believe our generation of students has the power to enact change. Many congressional legislators and other politicians are unaware of the extent to which the threat of gun violence affects the learning process; however, we cannot expect them to be. According to The Pew Research Center, the average age in Congress as of 2022 is 58 years old. This means that most congressmen have not attended school in a post-Columbine society. They are ignorant to the concept of attending school in fear of gun violence, a normalized experience in modern society.

This is why lawmakers must hear our voices. They need to know we are afraid. We need to tell them how it feels to space out in class looking for the best exit point in case a gunman barges through the door. We need to tell them how it feels to hear rumors of a threat of gun violence at school and be forced to use our better judgment as to whether the threat is legitimate, and if we should put our education on hold, or if it is just some sick “joke” being made by an irresponsible student. Whether it be something as large as writing letters to the school board or state representatives on changes that need to be made, or something as small as an editorial for the school newspaper, we at The Tower believe students can make a difference with the power of our voices.

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About the Contributor
Joshua Sonnenberg ’25
Joshua Sonnenberg ’25, Graphics Editor
Joshua Sonnenberg ’25 has a lot of unique hobbies, such as building his own computer, participating in lots of running, and frequently adding to his comic book collection. His love for drawing however is what inspired him to become Graphics Editor for The Tower. “I love having the opportunity to publish both written and artistic works in the paper,” Sonnenberg said. The second year staffer is never seen without wired headphones, which usually have boygenius playing. Sonnenberg can almost always be found uniquely making his graphics on his phone instead of the typical iPad.

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