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Flagstaff Students Discuss Gun Violence and Activism Post-Parkland

Teenagers across the country have become activists in the wake of last month’s shooting at a high school in Parkland Florida. They’ve marched on Washington and their state capitols, met with politicians and held walkouts demanding gun reform and better school safety. They’re using social media platforms to organize more protests and discuss the idea of arming teachers. KNAU’s Justin Regan and Gillian Ferris interviewed some students at Coconino High School in Flagstaff to see what they think about school gun violence in the U.S. post-Parkland. 

Eric Wilson, 11th grade. Last hour I knew we were going to have this conversation. So I went around and asked a few of the teachers who were free about how they feel about possibly being armed. And from the very few opinions I have it was mostly leaning in the direction of, if it were a voluntary program and you had teachers who came into voluntarily and were compensated for training and they were trained basically like police to respond in a crisis situation then they’d feel comfortable about it. Even if they themselves wouldn’t be part of the program, they feel like it would be beneficial at least in some way.

Derek Richard, eleventh grade. I think teachers having guns would make me scared in the classroom. Because if a teacher needs a gun something might happen. And my second hour teacher she said once she needs to have a gun she’ll stop teaching. She doesn’t want to teach in that of learning environment.

Brennen Motes, eleventh grade. To bounce off of that, if teachers were to have a gun that would mean that my impression would be living in fear at school. I don’t want to be attending a classroom where my teacher is, not brandishing, but you could see some sort of hand held gun on them. Cause teachers aren’t trained in it. Yes training would help. But they’re not trained in it and that’s not what they signed up to do. They signed up to teach us. Not to police us in that kind of environment.

Emily Deter, 12th grade. I feel like usually when teenagers or young people try to speak up on an issue we’re always told to sit down or shut up because we’re just kids and we don’t know anything but we’re expected to act like adults. And I feel this time we are demanding to be heard and we are demanding that we want a change and we won’t be told to sit down and shut up anymore because we’re tired of it and we want to see change.

Cameron Menein, 12th grade. I’ve seen a lot more of my friends posting about it. And in this movement I see that the kids and teenagers aren’t letting it die. And that’s the most important thing. I haven’t stopped posting about it since it happened. And I won’t because I want people to know that this isn’t okay. It should have never been okay and we need to make changes. We’re the generation that can do that at this point.

Areya Kugler, I’m a senior. I’m actually hosting the walkout with Cameron. For me I feel very strongly about speaking up about things. I’ve never really had a filter on any issue. But this one has made me feel more empowered that I can actually start this walk out and have a backing of everyone in the school. You’ve seen this stuff put together by adults all the time. But now we’re the ones doing it and I think we can do it just as well. And I think it gets more attention from people. Because kids are the next generation and we’re the ones that have to set up what’s coming next.

Gillian Ferris was the News Director and Managing Editor for KNAU.
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