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The unsolved problem of mass shootings

Annabella Mireles
A family mourns at Ponder Park Aug. 4, 2019, after the shooting at a local Walmart that killed 23 people.

Since 1999 there have been 311,000 school shootings accord-ing to The Washington Post, and recently added to that list is the shooting at Robb Elementary. In Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022 students and two teachers were murdered at Robb Elementary School, leaving a community grieving.

Days after the shooting, teachers across the state came out in support of gun reform after state politicians proposed teachers to be armed in the classroom.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Attorney General Ken Paxton proposed for Texas teachers be armed to harden the Texas School Marshal Program, which allows for school staff to get trained and carry a gun on campus to protect students. The program, which was established in 2013, has had much backlash as well as some in favor of it. According to The Texas Tribune, only 84 schools statewide are part of the program.

Locally, none of the school districts are enrolled in the Texas School Marshal program. While all districts do have a form of security, are these schools prepared for the worst-case scenario: an active shooter?

The Prospector interviewed local teachers and students on what they believe the best course of action is and the proposals from state legislators to prevent an active shooter.

“(School districts) need to educate staff on carrying a firearm, the do’s and don’ts,” said Melissa Willing, a 5th grade teacher at Escontrias Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Academy (STEAM). “Praying isn’t helping anymore; we need to do something else.”

For some, bringing guns into the hands of teachers is key to limiting active shooter situations, but to others it is even more dangerous. In a survey done by the State Teachers Union (Texas AFT), survey shows that of the 4,000 respondents, 77% would prefer to not be armed. In that same report, 83% of those respondents would prefer to ban assault weapons to prevent an active shooter situation.

“(An active shooter) can occur anywhere and we cannot live in fear,” Willing said. “We need to be more aware of our surroundings and security needs to actually walk the school grounds.”

Escontrias STEAM Academy, which is in the Socorro Independent School District, has an active security guard and standard protocols in place in case of an emergency. In the case of an active shooter, SISD follows the Texas State: Texas School Safety Center basic plan in case of an active shooter.

Alongside teachers, students spend most of their days inside a classroom, but with active shooters on the rise according to a report by the National Center for Education Statistics, how do students feel about the current situation and in what ways they think active shooters can be prevented?

After Uvalde, a Dallas school district announced students are required to bring clear backpacks to ensure safety. Though school districts in the borderland have yet to require clear backpacks, some students at Socorro High School said they do not believe they will prevent active shooters.

“I get it is for the greater good, but it is an invasion of privacy and won’t prevent someone from com-ing into our school,” said Elias Rangel, a sophomore at Socorro High School. “I believe more security and high-tech doors with passcodes could make schools safer.”

With ideas such as high-tech doors, more security, and even possibly arming teachers, do students feel safe with the current methods?

“With my campus having a history of many lockdowns, I do worry,” Rangel said. “I wonder about ever having to be in that situation sometimes, it’s scary to think that it’s possible.”

For students, there are easier ways to limit the chance of an active shooter, rather than arming teachers or clear backpacks.

“I think (our school) needs to be more aware about who they let into the school and who they have conversations around,” said Anna Juarez, a senior at Socorro High School. “I also suggest schools communicate with parents and students about stuff going on at the campus.”

Though active shooters do not come with a warning, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter out requesting that the Texas School Safety Center do random checks and audits of all Texas schools to find points of entry for an active shooter beginning this September.

Itzel Giron is the multimedia editor and can be reached at [email protected]; @by.itzel.giron on Instagram; @itzel_anahi_16 on Twitter.

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About the Contributors
Itzel Giron
Itzel Giron, Editor-in-chief
Itzel Giron is a senior multimedia journalism and creative writing student at UTEP. She started her journalistic career at The Prospector in the fall of 2021 as a staff reporter and is now editor-in-chief. Thanks to The Prospector and her tenacity, Itzel has had the opportunity to be an intern with KVIA Channel 7 at El Paso. Itzel is also a freelance journalist, and her work has been published in The City Magazine, Borderzine and Walsworth Yearbooks. After graduation, Itzel hopes to continue her passion of journalism by working in broadcast television reporting on politics, entertainment and news.
Annabella Mireles
Annabella Mireles, Photo Editor
Annabella Mireles is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in digital media production and minoring in film. She is the photo editor at the Prospector newspaper and Minero magazine as well as owning her own photography business. She plans on pursuing photography full time.
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The unsolved problem of mass shootings