The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Are Brookline gun laws effective?

Massachusetts’ strict gun laws do not mean citizens do not have access to firearms.

In many ways, Brookline is a bubble. The news often brings stories of gun violence and attacks in other towns and other states. Hearing about incidents around the country scare lawmakers into tightening gun restrictions. As reasonable as that response is, it does more harm than good.

It’s not realistic to expect a total ban on guns in the United States, it’s not even realistic to expect one in Brookline. When debating guns, most people either want a total ban or no gun restriction whatsoever, and it’s very hard to reach a middle ground. Although there tends to be more of a consensus in Brookline, this makes it seem as though Brookline is a safe haven that doesn’t have to deal with these issues. To address the nationwide problem, we need to stop isolating ourselves from this issue and start educating ourselves. We need to understand guns in order to regulate them effectively and keep everyone safe.

If you drive outside of Brookline for half an hour, gun clubs, stores and shooting ranges begin to pop up. You’ll find gun teams, like the two I’m a part of, which compete in country-wide shooting competitions. But even in Boston, colleges such as MIT have shooting teams that compete in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competitions.

Even in Brookline, we’re not as far removed from guns as we may think. According to the Massachusetts Government website, as of January 1st, 2024, there are 118 active Firearm Identification cards (FIDs) in Brookline. I hold one of them.

An FID is a gun license for people between the ages of 15 to 21. Because FIDs are held by minors, they have more restrictions than a License to Carry (LTC), which is a permit to own a gun at age 21 or older. There are 698 resident LTCs in Brookline. Also in Brookline in the last year alone, there were 364 applications, both new and renewals, for gun licenses.

To get a better sense of the school community’s relationship with guns, I put together a survey that was sent out to all students on Canvas. Of the 214 responses, 7 percent of respondents said their families own guns and 41 respondents said that they had shot a gun.

We are not as separate from this issue as we think.

In the survey I conducted, when asked “Do you think we need more or less gun laws in Brookline/Massachusetts?” 18.2 percent of respondents selected “there should be no guns.” 44.4 percent of respondents thought that there should be more regulation, and 26.6 percent respondents chose that they didn’t know enough to answer.

This is an issue that is relevant to student’s lives and is of national importance. But nearly a third of respondents said they don’t know enough to have an opinion. For those students who don’t have the information it would take to make a decision, education is vital to help them make their own decision as they are the people who will be voting in a few years. Similarly, education would also serve the students who believe there should be increased regulation. With more knowledge of the subject, they could judge what regulation would be effective and why.

Every time there is a shooting in the news, many teachers check in with their students about how the event makes them feel, often offering to answer questions about what happened. To most students, those talks with teachers may be helpful and serve their purpose. However, these are reactionary conversations. We need to talk about what we can do instead of what has already happened. It’s frustrating when I talk to someone about what they want to see happen, and they just say more gun restrictions. The fact of the matter is that there already are restrictions on guns in place. They just aren’t effective enough. The solution isn’t necessarily more regulation, it’s better regulation.

It’s necessary to understand the facts in order to create a feasible solution. Knowing about guns themselves and the legislation surrounding them, rather than just the tragedies they cause would lead students to be more educated about the roots of these issues, and could help students work to address them.

I want to see more meaningful education about guns. Students across the nation have been killed in school shootings, causing fear and confusion as to why schools no longer seem like safe spaces. Students should have the chance to ask questions about why the current rules aren’t working and come to their own opinions since gun violence affects us so directly.

Guns are a major issue in our country, but most students don’t feel comfortable enough about them to form an opinion. People need to know enough about firearms themselves, about the laws and protections currently in place, and about what makes these issues arise. Education is what allows us to be informed enough to begin to solve the complicated issue that is gun legislation.

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