Scare at Fuquay Middle raises new safety questions

As many know, on Tuesday, Nov. 6, Fuquay-Varina Middle School had a scare that was potentially life-threatening when a student brought a firearm to school and set it off, shattering a window in the process. Thankfully, no students were harmed, and the situation is currently being handled by authorities, but it leaves us to wonder how safe our schools actually are.

School shootings have returned to pre-COVID levels and by some accounts have even increased according to the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation. However, the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security research shows that if we “know the signs” of gun violence, we can prevent it and reverse the trend. However, in four out of five school shootings, at least one other person knows of the attacker’s plan but failed to report it. In a comprehensive school shooting study, the Secret Service and Department of Education found that 93 percent of school shooters planned the attack in advance. So if people know the signs why aren’t they reporting them?

Obviously, putting the fate of hundreds of lives into the hands of 16-year-olds is doing nothing to prevent these tragedies. The only way to get real solutions and help these people is to start at the source of the problem. For years, people have been connecting school shootings with mental illness. 47 school shootings, this year alone, that have resulted in injuries or deaths have been connected to mental health issues, according to Sandy Hook Promise.

Teachers and schools are asked to do more with less, as teachers deal with overcrowded classrooms, with far too few resources for students, including counselors and nurses, who could help make a difference. This is why we have kids, such as this 12-year-old sixth grader, bringing guns to school. Most times, it’s not to harm anyone, it’s just a cry for help. If parents are so oblivious as to not notice their child taking a gun, then there’s obviously something going on at home.

In reality, most of these incidents could have been prevented if parents of students would follow the simple gun safety laws put into place to keep people safe. A study by the New England Journal of Medicine estimated 4.6 million American children live in a home where at least one gun is kept loaded and unlocked.  These improperly stored weapons have contributed to school shootings, suicides, and the deaths of family members, including infants and toddlers.

Instead of just talking about change, we need to start taking steps toward it. More resources need to be provided not only for students but teachers. Gun control laws need to be increased, especially if there are children in the home. We need to create a safer world where we don’t fear our siblings, children, and loved ones going to school.