Following recent trends of gun-owning teenagers getting involved in the national debate on guns and gun rights, a high school junior from New Hampshire named Dakota Hanchett wrote an op-ed in today’s New York Times explaining why he didn’t join the recent school protest.
There was a walkout at my school last week. It was meant to honor the students who died in the school shooting in Florida, but it was also about protesting firearms. I didn’t join in. I feel horrible about the kids who were killed or hurt, but firearms aren’t the problem — people are.
I think people who use guns in mass shootings are using those guns to seek help. There are other ways to get help, but the people who do these things have probably asked for help or have shown signs that they need it but were let down by the adults around them.
Dakota also explains the difficulty in having open-minded discussions with his peers who are unfamiliar with guns and in many cases afraid of them.
They’ve been told not to touch or talk about guns, and some of the kids think it is just absolutely wrong for people to own them. That is their opinion, and I respect it and am open to talking about it. But even if people try to be nice, they don’t really want to debate it.
Mr. Hanchett then asks
if we can teach students about sex and about drug and alcohol abuse, why can’t we teach them about firearm safety?
And he offers a potential solution for making it easier to talk about guns at school –
why can’t we have a couple of police officers come in and show us an unloaded gun and talk about how to keep us safe?
That class would be for high school students, but if the school district thought it was working it could be spread to younger students.
Dakota’s final point is probably the most poignant –
I think the people who are afraid of guns should talk to the people who are familiar with them, and both should keep an open mind. Even if people on the other side don’t agree, they need to be respectful, listen, be honest and not get upset with the other person.
Well said, Dakota Hanchett. Thank you for sharing your perspective and making a positive contribution to this nasty “debate.” We hope more young people in favor of guns continue to speak up and share their opinions.
Speaking of more young people speaking up, the video below shows a young woman eloquently speaking about her experience with guns and her thoughtful views on gun rights –
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