Las Vegas Sun

August 22, 2019

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Guest column:

Students deserve info when gun emergencies happen in school


Steve Marcus

A student crosses Alexander Road after a shooting at Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. One person was killed.

Aug. 13 was going the same as any of the other 11 first days of school I’ve encountered. There was the same restless night before, then the repetitive, “Sign here, sign there and make sure your parents sign there.”

But this one turned out to be anything but normal.

It was only second period when I got a text message from my mother filled with urgency and fright. The message read, “Are you okay?!?!”

Nyssa Silva

Nyssa Silva

At the moment, I thought I was as good as I could be for it being the beginning of a long school year. What I didn’t realize was that my mother wasn’t referring to the day itself, but rather the fact that there was a gun on campus.

When I had processed the information that Green Valley High School was in danger, I turned to my friend next to me and asked if she knew anything about what was going on.

Shockingly, neither she nor any of my other peers were aware of the situation. We were not on lockdown, and the administration was not allowed to discuss the matter.

I didn’t know what was more appalling — the fact that my life could be in danger, or that my life could be in danger and no one decided to tell me about it.

As the executive director of March For Our Lives Las Vegas, I was infuriated that no information was given to the students about the gun on campus. Lawmakers and school leaders must both act to change this and help prevent situations like these from continuing to happen.

First, school boards must make it a priority to ensure students and parents are notified about gun emergencies at schools.

Two guns, on two separate occasions, were brought on the campuses of Green Valley and Centennial High School in the first weeks of school. Tuesday brought another gun-related incident near a school, this time Canyon Springs High School. Yet no meetings were called to update local communities, no constructive conversation was initiated, and no assemblies were held for the young adults attending these schools.

No information is misinformation, so we need to establish a process in which students are informed and are allowed to give their input, so that schools can address gun violence on a united front.

Such group discussions also promise to broaden the perspectives of students by exposing them to opinions coming from somewhere besides their own homes, and could encourage them to become more politically active.

If we start teaching teenagers from a young age where to vote, how to vote and who is in the running, voter turnout is likely to increase. As of right now, 1 in 5 young adults are going to the polls. Increase this number to 2 in 5, and the youth of America could sway elections and legislation.

The next steps must happen at the state level, starting in February when the Nevada Legislature’s 2019 session gets underway.

Young adults are eager to see change not just in schools, but the shops where the guns are bought, offices where gun legislation is passed and the streets in which guns are carried.

The flaw in solutions being proposed by some leaders, like adding an extra campus guard or more metal detectors, is that gun violence at schools goes well beyond campus. Adding a safety precaution at school will not stop a teenager from illegally obtaining the gun in the first place, for instance.

Therefore, legislators must support laws that reform on a statewide scale and attack the root of the problem.

As someone who wants to see a decrease in the amount of gun violence in my country, I’d like to be informed by those I look up to.

To brighten the future of America, we must bring our future leaders into the conversation.

Meanwhile, I’ll never take for granted another first day of school, because that day might be my last.

Nyssa Silva is a junior at Green Valley High School.