February 21 2018

Editor’s Note: Kat Gontijo, 17, of Bakersfield High School, gave this speech at the “Gun Safety Rally” held on Feb. 19 on California Ave in Bakersfield. About one hundred residents gathered that day to march and rally together to push for more gun control.

Hello, my name is Kat Gontijo, I’m a junior at Bakersfield High School and I’m here today discuss an issue that is very clear and present, yet is hardly being discussed in Washington: guns. But first, a moment of silence for the 17 victims who lost their lives last week from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

It breaks my heart to think of these students starting school again this week without the other 17 who lost their life horrifically last Wednesday. And expect them to feel secure and safe on their campus, but for these survivors their first initial thought is not to turn to anger against the man who opened fire against them, but rather to turn to change. After countless interviews students are going on television to speak about how important gun reform is. In fact, Ryan Deitsch from Parkland is organizing a trip to Tallahassee to talk about how our loose gun laws have directly affected them. Ryan’s goal is simple: exploit the problem. Because how could something like this happen if a person couldn’t casually buy an AR-15 assault weapon and unlimited amounts of ammo and not even be asked why? The problem is simple: gun control.

Parkland quickly became the third worst school shooting in America’s history, we now face the harsh reality: everyday we step on campus we do not know if it may be our last. We don’t need our teachers carrying guns to feel safe on campus. We do not need fencing which makes us feel like we’re in prison. We need security guards on campus stopping people who shouldn’t be on campus from entering.  We need a safe learning environment where we won’t spend all of our time thinking if a gunman enters in the room how we should react. For now: let’s keep guns out of the hands of those wretched enough to commit a crime like this and focus on passing stricter gun laws.

I know in America the right to bear arms is very important, but there comes a point in history when our values and traditions conflict with one another. Our Constitution of the United States of America was written as a means to understand our rights, guaranteed to us by natural law. We are not asking for no guns, we are asking for more thorough background checks and frequent checks on citizens who own guns. Because while the Second Amendment is there to protect our right the bear arms, nowhere on does it justify unlawful slaughter of other people. Limits must be set, our gun control policy is out of control. We must value our lives higher.

2018- 18 school shootings. We will NOT become another statistic. What we need is reform. What we need is change. What we need is policy. What we need is to call BS!

This youth commentary first appeared in South Kern Sol. Click here to read it there.

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