Student Opinion: Gun Violence Hurts Children the Most, but California Is on the Right Track

Photo by Tim Mudd on Unsplash

By Eleanora Glick

This week, a 9-year-old girl named Serabi Medina was shot by her neighbor for being too loud while playing outside. Serabi was playing on her scooter outside. Her father Michael Medina was talking with a family friend who had dropped by for a visit. He said that he was greeting his friend when they heard a gunshot. Medina told his daughter to get inside immediately but the neighbor was already moving toward them. Serabi was then shot in the head in front of her father. Serabi was taken to the hospital but died from her injuries.

Serabi, also known as BB to her friends and family, was getting ready to start the 4th grade this fall. Megan Kelley, a family friend, described her as having a big personality and that she was funny, saying she could always make you laugh. She loved her dog and her dad. Her father said that she loved going to school and was excited to start 4th grade. Stuffed animals, candles of remembrance, posters of Captain America and sunflowers currently adorn a tree near her home.

Sadly, before her own death, before her untimely death, Serabi’s young life had already been deeply affected by gun violence. Her mother, Miranda Blanca, was shot in the head by an unidentified person in 2018, when Serabi was only four years old.

This family has been destroyed because of deadly weapons that we allow to be accessible to people in this country. This 9-year-old’s life has been cut short because of a neighbor with a gun. Sadly, the Medina family is not alone. The Gun Violence Archive (GVA) which keeps track of all shootings and people affected by gun violence has estimated that so far this year that 25,916 people have lost their lives to gun violence. 11,462 have been from homicide, accidental, murder while,14,454 death were from suicide. The Pew Research Center reports an increase of 50% in gun deaths among children and teens between 2019 and 2021.

Many people here likely remember Columbine as it was arguably the incident that started the awareness of gun violence in schools. I was in first grade when the students and teachers at Sandy Hook lost their lives, so I have grown up having to do drills where I am trained to hide under my desk and make no noise in the dark. I have had to do drills where I have to figure out where to run to if I have the chance. I have grown up going to school with the fear that I will be shot and killed. I have the fear instilled into my head that I won’t be able to say goodbye to my family, my girlfriend and my friends.

Sandy Hook, Columbine and Virginia Tech terrified me. I thought for years that I was going to be shot and murdered at school. I cried when my 6th grade teacher told us during these drills that she would die for us and I didn’t want her to die for us. For years I had to explain vaguely to teachers that I would likely freak out during the drills during safety week. For years I cried and was scared that I would die. I am still scared, albeit less so.

The toll that this fear takes on people’s mental health, including my own, is devastating. However, I am pleased that the California Legislature has taken on this issue and in recent years has taken meaningful steps to prevent gun violence.

California has made many steps into preventing gun violence. Such as, in California, they have very strict laws on who can and who cannot own a gun. People who have been deemed unfit to stand trial because of insanity cannot own a gun. People who have been put on a conservatorship because of mental illness or chronic alcoholism cannot own a gun. People who have been in a mental hospital or on a 5150 hold cannot own a gun. My friend cannot own a gun for 5 years because she went to the mental hospital in crisis. She cannot own a deadly weapon for her safety and that of the people around her. We are even tackling the issue of “ghost guns” in California, which are also prohibited in certain situations.

We need to make schools and other places safe again. Schools and homes should be spaces where everyone feels welcome and safe. No child should have the fear that they will die in a place that they are supposed to feel safe. No teacher should have to fear that they will not be able to protect their students. No parents should have to fear that they will never see their kid again when they drop them off at school. We shouldn’t be scared of dying because we spend time in our house, in our street, in our school. We all deserve to be safe and sound. I hope that other states will learn from the California example and do better.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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