The Student News Site of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

The Vanguard

The Student News Site of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

The Vanguard

The Student News Site of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

The Vanguard

The unrelenting cycle

Flashing through the day’s images, the television plays without sound as I eat in a nearby restaurant. As the top stories played out on screen, I could tell what was happening even without hearing the reporter. With slight variations, the same three stories keep playing on loop in different locations, each with different victims. Another mass shooting by a disgruntled young man with a manifesto of grievances. Another unprecedented natural disaster intensified by climate change. Another racially-motivated police killing of an innocent, unarmed person.

During our high school years, the constant national failure to address the urgency of these problems has prompted social and political awareness among mere teenagers. Everyone must stay informed if this country is to reverse these tragedies.

In the decade following Sandy Hook, mass shootings have become pervasive in school settings. Parkland happened. Uvalde happened. According to the Washington Post, there were more school shootings in 2022—46 in total—than when Columbine introduced the concept in 1999. Since that fateful day 24 years ago, there have been 380 school shootings. I cannot help thinking that if more people were aware of these horrifying numbers they would be inclined to pursue gun control.

Not only do schools see remarkably high levels of violent intrusions, but malls, houses of worship, grocery stores, concerts, dance halls, movie theaters, office buildings, nightclubs, bars, backyards, and homes have fallen victim to these senseless acts of hatred. According to the Gun Violence Archive, 2023 has seen more than 205 mass shootings in the United States so far, with at least 275 people killed and more than 800 injured. These grim statistics should inspire urgency in everyone aware of them.

According to Forbes, researchers have attributed that increase in part to social division and the proliferation of guns during the pandemic. In 2020, 300,000 people bought guns without background checks, and nearly 23 million guns were sold. Aside from thoughts and prayers, legislation hasn’t been passed to address the problem of mass shootings. Universal background checks, national assault weapons bans, and civil liability for gun manufacturers remain unchanged. Gun laws have even been loosened in states with the highest number of mass shootings. Such a rejection of gun reforms that could save lives is a result of voters’ refusal to educate themselves.

The same lack of political will is evident in the increasingly frequent tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, “snowmageddon” storms, and droughts. As the global death tolls mount from these climate catastrophes, so does the destruction. Without warning, homes, livelihoods, businesses—and the infrastructure that keeps them operating—are destroyed due to unprecedented natural disasters. Once-in-a-hundredyear floods or storms have now become once-in-adecade events. Credible publications have been sounding the dangers of climate change; why won’t the public just listen?

The collective price tag of these disasters has soared into the billions, with the government covering most of these costs through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) support. In the five-year period from 2017-2021, “” estimated the climate-related disasters tab at nearly $750 billion, with $165 billion in damages to add in 2022. How many more catastrophic storms will we be forced to endure before the public takes notice and holds government officials accountable?

Following the pattern of societal failures to address major issues lies a resistance to preventing police violence against people of color. The graphic murder of George Floyd, which was captured on video and replayed hundreds of times before all of us, came to define the issue of police brutality in the public eye. Still, we fail to see that many others were victimized before Floyd, and many have come after him: Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and countless others.

A failure to pay sufficient attention to these tragedies led to the 229 deaths of Black people by police officers in 2021. In 2022, unarmed Jayland Walker tried to flee police in Akron, Ohio—presumably out of fear—after a routine traffic stop. Suddenly, what started out as a harmless confrontation, resulted in Walker’s untimely death. As 2023 kicked off, Tyre Nichols experienced a similar traffic stop, led by five Memphis police officers. Yet again, the driver attempted to flee before being beaten and stomped to death for acting on his fears.

I will have the opportunity to vote for the first time as a registered independent in the 2024 election. To be an informed voter, I will research each candidate’s positions, regardless of party, on gun control, climate change, and police reform. I will be looking for concrete plans to address these problems, not just more platitudes. Too much of our future is on the line to not do our homework.

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