April 24, 2018

GOA Faculty Believes Arming Teachers is Not the Answer to School Shootings

Sam Rigante ‘21 and Michael Lurie '21

Would more armed teachers and faculty members around United States schools really stop school shootings? President Donald Trump seems to think so.
After the recent Parkland massacre where 14 students and three teachers were killed, the President sparked outrage after suggesting an idea to arm teachers, up to 40 percent, with firearms to prevent a shooter.
“Shooters won’t walk into a school if 20 percent of people have guns,” the President said at a listening session with the Parkland survivors on February 21.
Trump’s suggestion included only the most adept teachers would be qualified to carry a firearm.
“Well-trained, gun-adept teachers and coaches,” Trump said regarding which teachers would be able to carry guns in school. “I mean, I don't want to have a hundred guards with rifles standing all over the school. You do a concealed carry permit. This would be a major deterrent, because these people are inherently cowards.”
President Trump, however, did not come up with this idea. It had been touted by the NRA as far back as 2005. After a Minnesota high school shooting that left 10 dead, then-NRA Vice President Sandra Froman told the Associated Press, “I’m not saying that that means every teacher should have a gun or not, but what I am saying is we need to look at all the options at what will truly protect the students.”
The President received almost immediate backlash from many teachers, teacher unions, and Americans, who have claimed the idea makes no sense and is implausible.
The National Education Union, which is the largest union of its kind and has members ranging from K-12 teachers and college professors, responded to the President’s idea with swift reprisal: “Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence. Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms. We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that.”
These teachers are not the only ones who believe this. GOA’s teachers, as well, almost unanimously, believe teachers should not be armed, and that doing so could only cause more trouble.
In a recent poll of the GOA faculty, where 33 out of 67 teachers in both the middle school and high school were interviewed, all 33 believed arming teachers was not the answer to the school shooting problem in America.
He's never been in a classroom and it is ridiculous to think that teachers should be armed,” science teacher Mr. Gerstle said about the idea. “There are too many things that can go wrong.”
Along with this, the majority of GOA’s teachers said they would be afraid to shoot a gun, if they had to, in order to prevent a shooter. Many also said they were unsure of what they would do, as they had never held a gun before. Most of GOA’s teachers, excluding the Hebrew teachers, have never held a gun before.
“I would never use a gun,” Hebrew teacher Morah Caspi said about the issue. “I was in the army and I would never even think about getting a gun.”
The teachers were also asked if they would be comfortable knowing their colleagues or other faculty members in the school had guns on them. Most said no, with a few saying it would depend on who had the guns.
“I would rather have professional people who are trained, or recently trained to do something,” Morah Keren said.
Adam Shapiro, Head of School at GOA, sincerely believes guns do not belong in school, and that, as Head of School, he would not feel comfortable knowing teachers were teaching students with firearms on them.
“I do not think that that's something that's necessary,” Mr. Shapiro said. “As far as I'm concerned, my overall feeling is that schools have a responsibility to be safe places for teachers to students and staff to come to work every day. We have a responsibility to put protocols and policies in place that do that.
“My number one goal for all of our teachers is that they teach, they be really good at teaching and they be trained to be teachers and not trained for other things. I don't believe that it solves issues to have guns in schools and having teachers carry guns in schools.”
Having firearms in school could potentially lead to other problems and teachers expressed their opinion that a number of things could go wrong if guns were introduced to classrooms. This was proven recently when an armed teacher in California accidentally discharged a firearm and injured a student. Pieces of the bullet hit the ceiling and rebounded onto a boy’s neck, injuring him.
Some schools around the country already have laws in place that allow teachers to carry guns into school and about six states are planning on introducing legislation which would allow teachers to do so.

“We need to make sure that we doing things to be aware and keep ourselves safe and keep our school safe,” Mr. Shapiro added. “I would not think that that includes arming teachers.”

Gun Control Will Not Help Anyone

Rafi Colton-Max ’21

I do not believe there should be increased gun regulations in the United States and that is a controversial viewpoint on a controversial topic. I do not mean to say that I do not accept what happened in Parkland as a tragedy, or that I think that teachers should have guns to combat potential school shootings, I merely believe that increasing gun control will not have any positive outcome.
I am not a Republican, and I cannot stand for the NRA, but I do think that increasing gun control will be an ineffective potential solution to the issue of gun violence.
The main reason I believe this is that I do not believe that gun control stops crime.
If gun control is increased, it will not stop most of the homicides in the United States. Additionally, increasing gun control may not necessarily make it harder for residents of the United States to acquire a gun.
A study was conducted by the Pittsburgh Graduate School of public health who teamed up with the Pittsburgh police department to examine the gun crimes in Pittsburgh from 2008 and they found that in 79% of these cases the guns were either not in the possession of the shooter, or not obtained legally.
What most people don't realize is that it is very easy to acquire a gun illegally. There are thousands of websites on the so called “dark web” that sell guns illegally, and this business is growing at a rapid rate. One site on the dark web that sold many different types of illegal material called "Silk Road 2" was making just about 6 million dollars a month before it was shut down, and it was only one of many similar sites, which are still up and running
The biggest issue I find with gun control in America right now is that it is racially discriminatory. Gun control began as an attempt to keep guns out of the hands of Black Americans.
When the Black Panther Party walked around the streets of California in the 1960s openly carrying guns, breaking no laws, the state of California passed the Mulford Act. This law directly targeted the Black Panthers by prohibited citizens from walking around with loaded firearms.
Even today, gun control has racist undertones. There have been countless instances of people being denied a gun due to their race, ethnicity or gender. Andy Hallinan a gun shop owner in Florida not only would not vend guns to Muslims, but he put a sign on the front of the door on his gunshop that reads “Muslim Free” states the Washington Post in an article from 2015.

While there is no clear-cut solution towards gun violence, protesting the racism of gun control in America and fighting the black market and dark web is the best way to achieve desperately needed change.

GOA Participates in School Walkout

Jonah Altman ‘21

On March 14, exactly a month after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that claimed the lives of 17 children and teachers, students across the United States walked out of their classes to promote gun safety legislation. Walkouts began at about 10 a.m. and lasted 17 minutes, a minute for each of the 17 people murdered in the school shooting. At Golda och Academy a large amount of students and teachers opted to participate in the walkout.
The walkout was coordinated by the Student Council, which organized speeches and song to be sung during the 17-minute break in the school day. Freshman Samantha Rigantie is a strong believer in gun control and was a speaker at the walkout.
“Kids getting involved is definitely the best way to create a lot of change,” she said.
Sophomore Eva Hale, who also spoke at the walkout, agrees.
“[The walkout] showed how this generation cares about gun control,” she said, “[and are willing] to [act as] activist[s] for it.”
However, not all students felt the walkout was something they wished to be a part of.
“I don’t believe the school should be involved in politics,” freshman Jared Berelowitz said, objecting to the concept of a student-led walkout.
The organization of the walkout was also bothersome to Berelowitz.
He believes that, “a walkout is meant to be a defiance of [authority]” and argues that “when the system is on your side, the walkout has become ineffective.”
Berelowitz chose to remain in school and partake in a discussion of other methods to combat American gun violence.
Fellow freshman Noah Feldman also decided not to walk out.
“I believe there is an issue with gun violence,” Feldman said, “[but] many at the walkout took stances that were too extreme.”
Feldman added he does not believe in positions like a “ban on semi-automatic weapons” and that his “more moderate view was not represented by the walkout.”
Regardless, many at school agree that such activism, primarily by young adults was momentous.

“Children halted the American education system for 17 minutes across the country,” junior Theo Deitz-Green said. “This is revolutionary.”

Restricting Guns is the Only Responsible Solution

David Wingens ’19

According to the Center for Disease Control, 96 people are killed by a gun in the United States daily and according the bureau of alcohol tobacco and firearms, there are about three hundred million guns in America, which is far more than any country in the world. America has more gun violence than any country in the world and more guns than anyone in the world and there is no reason to think these two facts are not highly correlated.
Those who oppose any form of gun control will often ignore facts and empirical evidence and try to blame a variety of other factors for America’s astronomical levels of gun violence, but when the layers of partisan spin and rhetoric are peeled back, it becomes clear the only proven approach to the issue of gun violence is increased gun control. America is in desperate need of new laws to universalize background checks and ban weapons that should only be in the hands of the military and not civilians.
There are many who argue that the issue is not guns but people and more specifically, people with mental illnesses. Those same people will then turn around and argue against the expansion of background checks to keep guns out of the hands of those with mental illnesses.
Background checks need to be comprehensive and they have to apply to all gun sales, no matter who the seller is or where the gun is being sold. Right now, it is far too easy to get around the background check system by buying a gun from a gun owner or at a gunshow.
Background checks are crucial because they may be able to identify someone who is mentally unstable and who may commit homicide or suicide. Suicides make up almost two thirds of gun deaths in America and many of them might be preventable with a simple psychological screening.
Additionally, there needs to be a waiting period before someone can purchase a gun in order to ensure a complete background check. Waiting periods can also serve as crucial time for those who are considering buying a gun in order to harm themselves or others to “cool off” and not get caught up in the emotions of the moment.
Many who oppose gun control will blame gun violence on what they see as the loss of traditional family values and growing violence in media. For instance, President Donald Trump claims that “the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people's thoughts.” The issue with this reasoning is it is not backed by empirical evidence.
Across the globe, kids are playing the same video games and seeing the same movies as Americans and are therefore exposed to the same amount of violence from the same age. No other country, however, has such preventable issues with guns quite like America does.
The correct way to deal with gun violence is not to restrict First Amendment rights to free speech and expression in popular media. The correct way to deal with gun violence is to apply some sensible restrictions on the Second Amendment.
America has already had an assault weapons ban; it was in place between 1994 and 2004. It was far from perfect and had numerous loopholes, but it seemed at the time to be a clear display that progress is possible.
Assault weapons have limited practical purpose outside of the realm of homicide. They are not used for hunting and they are most certainly too powerful to be considered necessary for self defense when a handgun is perfectly capable of serving that role.
Assault weapons are weapons of war. They are meant to be used on the battlefield, not school hallways.
Sadly, a large contingent of people in America will not even begin to discuss limiting these weapons. They will often argue restrictions on guns are nothing less than a blatant infringement on their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
These claims are not without merit, as the Second Amendment to the Constitution does clearly state, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
So perhaps, the best solution to this problem is a radical one: repealing the Second Amendment.
This seems drastic, but it would only put us in the same situation as a large majority of the rest of the nations of the world, where gun ownership is a privilege, not a right.
Seeing as this is highly unlikely to happen because it would require a constitutional amendment and broad consensus across the nation, our government needs to at least restrict the Second Amendment with strong laws to outlaw weapons of war and to make sure that guns do not fall into the wrong hands.

MSD Survivors and MetroWest Residents Rally for Gun Control in Livingston

Michael Lurie ‘21

Many politicians and media outlets often say after a mass shooting, such as the most recent tragedy in Parkland, there must be time to grieve before the discussion about a solution to gun violence begins. However, if anyone should have a say in whether it is appropriate to discuss gun legislation, it is the survivors of the shootings themselves.
At a gun control rally held at Temple B'nai Abraham in Livingston on February 25, we had the opportunity to speak with three students who survived the Parkland shooting, as well as the brother of a survivor, an alumni of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. They let us know their opinions on gun control and what others can do to help the cause.
Every student had extremely strong opinions favoring heavy gun control legislation. Considering their first hand experience with the destruction a gun can cause, this comes as no surprise.
“My life was changed because my friends are dead,” Harris Jaffe, 16, a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas said. “And my life was changed because someone came into my school with an AR-15 weapon, that should be illegal and shot people.”
Jaffe is spreading his ideas by focusing on the fact that the current generation has the power to make change in the country. Many followers of the Never Again movement have called Parkland students like Jaffe an inspiration, but he thinks that no individuals should stand out above the rest.
“The inspiration should be the movement,” he said, “and what we are going to do as a generation.”
Junior David Hogg, 17, shared Jaffe’s beliefs, saying that the followers of the movement should be an inspiration to themselves.
Jaffe, along with freshman Lauren Hogg, 14, noted that social media is the best way to help spread the word about events, rallies and walkouts.
“It’s our generation that has the use of social media and has the opportunity to make change,” she said.
Matthew Deutch, 20, the brother of a student at MSD and an alumnus, agreed, also noting that with modern technology, we can view politicians’ platforms and information about them with ease, making it easier to support candidates who have corresponding beliefs.
Lauren also stressed the importance of speaking with anyone and everyone about gun control. All students shared the idea that the gun issue must stay a relevant subject and that it cannot leave the regular news cycle.
“As long as we keep talking, as long as we making this a focal point in political conversation, then change will come,” Deutch said.
He also emphasized that through the Jewish community, word travels faster than anywhere else, making it necessary for Jews to have these conversations within their closely knit communities.
Deutch explained clearly what the goal of their movement is: “Gun control to a lot of people is a dirty word,” he said. However, he makes clear that the ultimate goal is not to ban all guns or take away second amendment rights.
“Gun control is simply to say that we’re trying to stop bad people from getting these weapons of war,” he added.
If the students who have been directly affected by the mass shooting in Parkland think now is the appropriate time to discuss common sense gun legislation, then they more than anyone should be heard. Their efforts are to not let anyone else ever experience what they did, in honor of the 17 lives lost.

“We don’t want to be known as the last school that got shot up,” said Jaffe. “We want to be known as the last school that ever got shot up.”


Stop Normalizing Gun Violence in Inner Cities

Eva Hale ‘20

What the Parkland kids are doing is incredible. They are creating social change in a way no one before them has effectively done. But Congressmen Donald Payne Jr. said something interesting to me that made me think.
“17 people died in Parkland,” Payne Jr. said. “Well, the same can happen in Newark in two weeks.”
That doesn’t delegitimize the Parkland kids or what happened there. But it does raise the issue that those kids were white and from an affluent community. Gun violence is an issue in inner cities and those shootings don’t get attention, because we have come to expect it.
Thousands of teenagers have died in inner cities for years. These aren’t mass shootings. They don’t happen all at once. They happen every day. They happen again and again and it hasn’t been enough to make us stand up for them and say enough is enough.  
Ron Odom, the father of Steven Odom, who was murdered in Dorchester in 2007 said, “People say, ‘Nothing will happen until it starts happening to white children.’ Well, now it’s happened. What’s the difference between what these children are saying and what our children are saying? But if they’re able to move Congress to some centrist agreement on guns, I’m standing with them. Our children are dying.”
Unlike Odom, Bree Newsome, an African-American activist, feels resentment toward the Parkland movement.
“Black youth are facing a Parkland every day in their lives from all sides,” she said. “The language used in describing the Parkland students completely skips over all of the black youth and student protests that have been happening in recent years.”
The Parkland shooting proved we are all in danger because of how easy it is to get a gun. Not only the inner cities, whom we have forgotten about, whose violence has become normalized. This is an issue that can affect all of us. But we should never have normalized the violence in inner cities in the first place.
I don’t say this to criticize the Parkland survivors. This doesn’t mean school shootings aren’t an issue. It just means that in this renewed push for gun control, we need to hear just as much about kids gunned down in the inner cities as we do about kids gunned down at schools.
This needs to be part of the issue. This issue applies to all of us. It applies to kids in Parkland who witnessed this horrible act of evil. But it also applies to these attacks in inner cities to which we have become inured.

We can’t normalize this, as we as a society have been doing for decades. We can’t ignore the inner city students who have been protesting and speaking out for gun control. We have this cry of outrage for the people who were shot in a wealthy, white, affluent school and that’s a good thing; we should be outraged. But we have no cry of outrage for the people who die day in and day out in America’s inner cities.

Do Violent Video Games Affect People’s Minds?

Naomi Sessler ‘21

Violent video games have always been a topic of contention when it comes to their influence on real life crimes. Recent tragedies have brought this conversation to a new level.
Almost a month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, President Donald Trump has cited the content in video games as a potential cause for the violence.
“I’m hearing more and more people say the level of gun violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts,” the President said.
Trump declared he wanted a government rating system for video games to replace the current rating systems, which are run by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).
During a press conference on March 1, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reported President Trump expressed a desire to meet with the CEOs of video game companies to discuss violence in the medium. The meeting, which occured a week later, consisted of the President showing a video of violent video games and, reportedly, an unproductive conversation afterwards.
While the federal government has done nothing to regulate or ban violent video games, government officials in states such as Rhode Island and Illinois have taken action. In Illinois on March 2, a 16-year-old posted a video of himself on Snapchat playing a violent video game. The post had the caption: “Y'all need to shut up about school shootings or I’ll do one.” He was subsequently arrested and banned from planning violent video games.
This occured right after an National Rifle Association-endorsed game, “NRA: Shooting Range,” was taken off of the app store. The app was removed right after many companies were facing pressure for dealing with the NRA.
In Rhode Island, Republican Robert Nardolillo, a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, suggested a 10 percent tax increase on video games with a rating of M (Mature) or higher. The tax would be used to fund mental health provisions in schools. When proposing the bill, Nardolillo said, “There is evidence that children exposed to violent video games at a young age tend to act more aggressively than those who are not.”
Representative Nardolillo, however, did not provide any evidence. When talking about the reason for the bill, Nardolillo said, “The bill would give schools the additional resources needed to help the students deal with aggression.”
Previous school shootings have led to the accusation that violent games could have been the cause of such violent actions. However, there is no evidence to support that claim. An article from NBC News states “there is no link between violent video games and school shootings.”  
Former Supreme Court Justice Scalia stated these studies, “purport to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children… [they] have been rejected by every court to consider them, and with a good reason: They do not prove that violent video games cause minors to act aggressively.”
Rachel Maddow, a journalist on MSNBC, pointed out that, “blaming films and television might make more sense if we didn’t export our entertainment to countries that, again, don’t have the kind of mass shootings that are alarmingly frequent here.”
Although reports from associations such as the American Psychological Association have stated there is not enough evidence to show playing violent games can lead to criminal behavior, there is evidence that shows that playing these games can lead to aggression.
Not just violent video games are being put under fire for these frequent school shootings. President Trump is also blaming violent movies saying, “And then you go the further step, and that's the movies. You see these movies they're so violent, and yet a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn't involved, but killing is involved.”
Like violent video games, no studies have shown these products are to blame for the recent shootings.

It is still too early to see whether or not legitimate action will be taken by the federal government concerning violence in the media. However, it seems no matter what numerous studies have shown, people are still adamantly blaming video games for violence.

Recounting the Horror of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Shooting

Guest Contributor: Gabe Glassman, MSD sophomore

February 14, 2018 was the worst day of my life for me, my friends, my classmates and the teachers and faculty staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. Parkland, Florida has been my home for 13 years and it will continue to be my home for the rest of my life. As I type into my computer, I do not type for nothing. I want to tell you my story. A person’s story is unique in every way, so here is my story.
         It was like any other day, I was in Theatre Production rehearsing for our next show that was supposed to be shown to hundreds of elementary school kids, teachers and family members March 1-3. It was around 2:30 p.m. when the fire alarm went off; there was another fire alarm earlier in the day for which I wasn’t here.
I was one of six people to step outside. As soon as I stepped outside, I heard three gunshots and immediately I ran into the office we had inside the classroom. Five minutes passed before my teacher, Mrs. Herzfeld, went into the closet and told us to get in the back storage closet where the rest of the class was. I had to sit in a closet, almost passing out a few times, due to hyperventilation and dehydration, with 70 of my classmates and my teacher.
It was an hour and 20 minutes before a S.W.A.T. team broke into a book-room that was attached to a storage closet and evacuated us out of campus. We all stepped on glass and as we were running, we were crying and thanking any first responder we saw, but we were mostly terrified and shaken up.
Fast Forward to the vigil on February 15, 2018. Tears were shed, candles were lit and emotions were shared. It was a moment where all of Parkland was together as one. It is important to remember that many of the students at MSD live in Coral Springs, Florida and it is important to remember that they are with Parkland as well.
         A few days have passed now and I guess it is getting better. I haven’t visited the school yet since the massacre. Personally, I am doing better than many my peers at this point. Little did I know that it was going to get better very soon. On Friday, February 23, 2018, I spoke at a rally for Dreyfoos School for The Arts. Right after my speech, everyone came to me with open arms and I hugged almost every single student at that walkout that day. I gained over 100 followers on Instagram also, all of them being from Dreyfoos. My speech was recorded by my dad and he sent it out on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. All of my friends from my youth group, USY, saw it and I was immediately praised with compliments. That is not all; all the teachers at MSD saw it as well as my parents, friends and family. Since then, I have been asked to write for school newspapers, give quotes from my speech for rallies and have been asked to be interviewed from people all over the world.
         A lot of people have asked me what keeps me motivated. My friends and family keep me motivated all the time. Without them, I would be hurting way more than I already am. My support group also comes from USY. The people that I have met all around the country are so inspiring to me in every way. That support group has kept me involved with everything going on. I have been keeping updated with everything going on in social media. The best part of this is when I found out about all the companies leaving the NRA and the stores that sell guns raised the minimum age. It’s all the positive activity in my community that keeps me going, as well.
         I moved to Parkland because of the schools, but now I realize the bigger reason why I moved here. I moved to Parkland because of the people of this community. My community has supported me in such an amazing way. The people at MSD are truly inspiring and are caring every day. MSD may always be hurting and there never will be a “normal” here, but the 3,000+ at MSD and the huge number of teachers and faculty staff will soar past this and move on. We will always remember those 17 beautiful angels whose lives were stopped short on February 14, 2018. My message to all of you is to keep flying high and to always be on the positive side of life.

Gabe Glassman is a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas H.S. Glassman is a passionate member of USY and hopes to use that passion to inspire change.

A Victory in the Face of Tragedy

Gideon Fox ‘19

Every kid grows up wanting to win a championship. What they don’t dream about is winning it a mere 11 days after 17 people were killed in their school.
On February 25, 11 days after 17 lives were tragically cut short, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Eagles hockey team won the Florida State Championship.
Along with the challenge of overcoming the emotions of the recent events, the Eagles faced being ranked as the bottom team entering the state tournament. They lost their first three round robin games, but as the tournament progressed, the team was able to improve. They beat East Lake, the top team in the tournament, in the semifinals with a score of 3-1. In the championship, they defeated Jesuit by a score of 7-4.
With the weight of an entire community on their shoulders, the players played one of the best games of their careers.
“No one was lacking energy in the locker room,” senior Matthew Horowitz said.
In a meaningful coincidence, the number of players on the team matches the number of victims. Every player on the team received medals for their victory. Each player has since donated their medal to the family of a victim.
“This wasn’t for us,” Horowitz noted. “This was for the 17 victims.”
Nationals were held March 22-26 in Minnesota. The Panthers, Florida’s National Hockey League team, hosted the Eagles and flew them out to Minnesota. To show their appreciation of the team’s bravery, the Panthers also showed the team the Stanley Cup.
MSD finished the tournament 1-3. Although they failed to win the National Championship, the Eagles went out in dramatic fashion, earning a 3-2 overtime victory against Lake Central (Indiana).

Instagram Feed

Twitter Feed