10 Years After Sandy Hook, History Repeats, and Little Is Being Done to Change That

by The Hive editorial board

JUNE 2022 — The second deadliest U.S. school shooting occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were fatally shot and killed May 23. The severity of the attack is only preceded by the events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary school Dec. 14, 2012, where 20 students and seven adults were killed. Though 10 years have passed since Sandy Hook, students are still being subjected to the horrors of gun violence; history is repeating itself, and little is being done to fix it.

At Robb Elementary, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos barricaded himself in a classroom around 11:30 a.m and shot those inside. The tactical team forced the door open, shooting and killing Ramos more than an hour after entering the school.

Prior to the shooting, Ramos shot his grandmother, who is in the hospital. Ramos crashed his truck in a ditch near the school before entering, wearing a plate carrier with no ballistic armor and exchanging fire with school officers.

Pictured above are people visiting Robb Elementary School to leave flowers by the school sign May 25 in light of the shooting. Photo obtained from Jack Gruber, USA Today.
It has been almost 10 years since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school, and after this event, politicians and lawmakers across the country have promised, “never again.” Despite this, 229 mass shootings have taken place on U.S. school grounds in 2022 alone, according to the gun violence archive. 

That number is more than one school shooting per day this year.

Regardless of what people blame, the promise of “never again” has proven to be false time and time again, and countless lives have suffered as a result.

Following the events, Texas Governor Greg Abbott noted, “What happened in Uvalde is a horrific tragedy that cannot be tolerated in the state of Texas.”

However, in the past year, Abbott has signed numerous legislation that lifted restrictions on gun laws. Some of these laws include HB 1927, which allows Texans to carry guns without a license, background check, or training and HB 2622 which prohibits local government agencies from enforcing federal gun laws.

In total, Abbott signed and enacted 22 laws to make it easier to obtain, buy, and carry guns, according to Houston Public Media.

On top of this, Abbott tweeted the following Oct. 28, 2015: “I’m EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in the nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans.”

For someone who claims that school shootings “cannot be tolerated in the state of Texas,” Abbott has single handedly enacted legislation that has enabled individuals to obtain weapons of destruction in a more efficient manner.

According to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, it was found that states with higher levels of household gun ownership had higher rates of firearm homicide and overall homicide for all genders and age groups.

“Regardless of what people blame, the promise of ‘never again’ has proven to be false time and time again, and countless lives have suffered as a result”

The Hive Editorial Board

In instances like Uvalde, the shooter was able to obtain the gun legally with little restriction as a result of these actions. Ramos legally purchased two assault rifles and 375 rounds of ammunition just after his 18th birthday. One of the rifles was found in the back of his truck, the other located in the school.

Even so, the issue lies deeper than just gun control; having strict gun control will not magically eradicate the issue of gun-related violence. In other cases, while less common, the guns were purchased illegally or underground.

Most commonly, the Sandy Hook promise outlined that 68% of guns in gun-related incidents at schools were taken from a family member who purchased the guns legally. Though gun control will not completely erase the issue, requiring permits, training, background checks, and licenses for obtaining firearms could prevent certain acts of gun-related violence.

Controlling fire-arm access was not the only repeated message from history.

The infamous 1999 Columbine High School shooting saw police officers arrive on the scene, only to wait hours to enter and secure the building. In Uvalde, they took roughly 90 minutes to breach the classroom the shooter stayed in.

From worries of officer safety to police chiefs making “wrong decisions” during desperate situations, police training must be questioned. With the infuriating frequency of these events, they need to be prepared. If the police refuse to be disarmed of their guns for public safety, they should at least use their guns when the public needs them.

Another aspect that is critical to consider is offering better mental health support. A common argument against gun control is that “if someone wants to obtain a gun, they will, whether it is legal or not.” Instead of just preventing individuals from obtaining the gun, a focus should also be placed on preventing people from committing these violent acts altogether.

Watching out for threats of violence and flagging them before they escalate is another key factor in preventing shootings, which is often not considered until it is too late.

Prior to the shooting, Ramos used Yubo, a social media site, as a platform to make threats about rape and shooting the school. If these threats were taken seriously and brought to the attention of officials, these events could have been prevented; lives could have been saved.

The issue, though, is that most people preach looking for “warning signs,” but when actions are flagged, few repercussions occur. Noticing these actions and dealing with the threats is crucial to preventing violent actions in schools.

In fact, 93% of school shootings were planned in advance in almost every documented case. In those cases, the Sandy Hook promise noted that one or multiple of these warning signs were shown.

Many of these signs include things like bullying, withdrawing from friends, making direct threats, and recruiting accomplices or audiences for the attack. In these cases, these signs are able to be caught early, and actions can be taken to prevent these harmful acts.

“Schools are supposed to provide a comfortable learning environment for children to learn and grow as individuals. In spite of this, the world of today has seen school shootings rip away that right from students; these places can no longer feel safe.”

The Hive Editorial Board

As outlined by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “school shootings typically involve a mix of suicidal thoughts, despair, and anger — plus access to guns.”

Though many pin the blame only on weapons, recognizing the signs and knowing how to deal with them is important. Taking threats seriously and having repercussions for these threats, along with implementing more mental health initiatives to prevent shootings that result from mental illnesses would provide a step in the right direction.

In the span of 10 years, instead of putting any legislation in place — whether it is gun control, taking threats seriously and recognizing the warning signs, better mental illness check-ins, or other actions to lessen the amount of violence in this country — America has decided to train schools and students to be “prepared” against active shooters instead of attempting to eradicate the issue all together.

After all of the ALICE drills, lockdowns, talk of or implementation of arming teachers, walk-outs in protest of the violence, and all the thoughts and prayers to the victims, how many more conversations have to occur before any action is taken?

We said “never again” after Sandy Hook. Since then, 947 school shootings have occurred, and an estimated 12 children die from gun violence in America each day. At what point, if ever, will this statement hold true? How many more lives need to be lost — in schools, in supermarkets, in places of worship — until anything changes?

These places where gun violence occur are supposed to be safe. Schools are supposed to provide a comfortable learning environment for children to learn and grow as individuals. In spite of this, the world of today has seen school shootings rip away that right from students; these places can no longer feel safe.

There’s a terrifying fact that looms over the heads of every student when an ALICE drill is practiced: This is the sad reality of the world we live in, where it is a necessity that students know how to increase their chances of survival in the event of a shooting. As the instances of school shootings increase, the terrifying thought of our community falling victim to the horrors of gun violence becomes increasingly more probable.

Though the thought of the community being exposed to gun violence is frightening to even imagine, it is likely that, even then, America will continue to argue and fail to act; that fact is even scarier.

General Interest Opinion Politics

Immigration Detention Profits Off of Injustice. It’s Time to Change That.

by Randall Hatfield, staff writer

MAY 2022 — For more than 200 years, America has been seen as a cultural “melting pot,” a place where people from all backgrounds could come together and find a new, better life. Yet, the legislation of the immigration system creates a hate-filled, dangerous road for prospective immigrants to the U.S.

Language services are meant to be present during deportation hearings, but some of these services may be inadequate—or even absent—in violation of the law. As a result, many immigrants wait day after day for their chance to plead their case in an unfair trial.

“How can we call ourselves the land of the free if we’re so willing to abide by a system that makes money off of imprisoning guiltless people for profit?”

Randall Hatfield, staff writer

First, it’s important to clarify the difference between immigrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees. Amnesty International defines an immigrant as a person who intends to move to a different country for permanent residency, possibly for work, or civil unrest in their home country. Asylum-seekers are people who have fled their home countries in order to escape persecution or injustice. Asylum-seekers, once granted asylum, become refugees and are granted legal protection against being sent back to their home countries.

Because immigrating for asylum is typically done out of necessity, the law states that all asylum seekers should have the opportunity to formally apply for asylum in the United States, regardless of whether they entered the country legally. As long as asylum-seekers are able to prove before the law that they were at serious risk of being unjustly persecuted in their home countries, they can be considered for refugee status.

Despite this, undocumented asylum-seekers’ rights have been infringed upon countless times, resulting in the unlawful detention of many—the very thing that they came here to escape.

The 1903 Supreme Court case Yamataya v. Fisher established that all immigrants, entering unlawfully or not, have the right to ask for legal due process in a court of law. While this was a step forward, accessing information about the trial can be incredibly difficult. Even harder, detainees are not guaranteed the right to legal counsel, so those who cannot afford a lawyer may have inadequate legal help, or even to represent themselves in court without easy access to learn how to do so.

Data from an American Immigration Council study shows that only around 37 percent of all U.S. Immigrants have access to legal counsel to represent them in court. Graphic obtained from the American Immigration Council.

Immigration hearings can take months to happen, and in the meantime, detainees are sent to detention centers to wait. It would be more appropriate to call these centers prisons, as many of them are offloaded by ICE to private prison companies for profit.

Demographics in detention centers vary widely. Of those imprisoned, many have no criminal record, and many of those that do only have minor offenses, like traffic violations, on record. Ages vary, typically, those in ICE detention are between 26 and 35 years old, but people as old as 79 have been detained. Children are also detained frequently. In 2019, 69,950 children were imprisoned, according to NCSL.

Conditions for detainees are often poor. Cells are frigid, and many state that they were forbidden from showering, brushing their teeth, or practicing personal hygiene while stationed there.

Reports also indicate that many are deprived of proper nourishment, and the risk of disease transmission is greatly increased due to the close quarters and weakness. Since the pandemic, according to statistics on the ICE website, the spread of COVID-19 has affected 43,153 detainees, and 11 have died.

How can we call ourselves the land of the free if we’re so willing to abide by a system that makes money off of imprisoning guiltless people for profit?

A graph from Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse outlining the percentage of detainees without a criminal record. This data was taken April 24 and uses a sample size of 19,502 people. Graphic obtained from Transactional Records Access Clearance.

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 was put before the 117th Congress on February 18, 2021, and intended to reform the U.S. immigration system. The bill, if passed by the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, would work to open up immigration opportunities to all, making it easier to apply for permanent residency, and readdressing qualifications for employees of Customs and Border Patrol centers.

The bill will not magically repair every issue and injustice within the immigration system, but it will be a much-needed start to repairing this critical issue affecting so many people.

For more information about immigration in the U.S. and all around the world, I recommend the National Immigrant Justice Center, and Amnesty International. Movements like Amnesty’s National Week for Student Action are ways to get involved, and influence legislation at the national level.

At the end of the day, these are people — sons, daughters, husbands, and wives — are striving for the human right of a free life. We need to do better for the migrants and asylum-seekers that our country attracts. Only once all have equal rights and opportunity, can we have liberty and justice for all.

Opinion Politics

Commentary: Abortion Bans Are Anything But Pro-Life

by Havann Brown, editor-in-chief

For almost 50 years, people have heavily relied on the holding in Roe v. Wade to make the decision about whether or not to have a baby. As the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey decision, “[t]he ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.” Photo by Havann Brown, editor-in-chief.

MAY 2022 — Abortion is currently legal everywhere in the United States. However, it appears that won’t be true for long. According to a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito in February, at least five of the court’s justices have voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision recognizing the right to abortion, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision reaffirming that right.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” wrote Alito. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

He went on to state, “Roe was egregiously wrong,” and demonstrated that the court is looking to reject Roe’s legal protections.

It is unclear if the draft represents a final opinion, as justices have previously changed their views during the drafting process. The court’s holding will not be final until it is published, likely in the next two months.

If the Supreme Court overturns the nearly 50-year-old precedent granted by Roe’s abortion rights ruling, access to abortion will become a state-by-state issue, which would be a nightmare scenario.

An NBC News analysis of Center for Reproductive Rights data shows that 23 states would institute abortion bans. “Trigger laws,” or laws that would go into effect banning abortions when Roe is overturned, are on the books in 13 of those states. A second abortion-rights advocacy group, the Guttmacher Institute, counted as many as 26 states considered certain or likely to ban abortion ​​based on laws passed before and after Roe, in the event it was overturned.

In Ohio, abortion rights would likely be eliminated if Roe were overturned. Governor Mike DeWine has signed multiple horrific bills to ban abortion as early as six weeks gestation, require aborted fetuses to be buried or cremated, prevent medication abortions, and add rules that could shut down two Southwest Ohio abortion clinics. Additionally, a bill pending in the Ohio General Assembly would ban doctors from performing medication or surgical abortions, instituting a fourth-degree felony for violators.

Pictured is a sign from a May 5 protest in support of reproductive rights hosted by Kent State Univerity’s Chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. Since the leaking of the Supreme Court draft, protests have sparked all across the country, with many being hosted on college campuses. Photo provided by Jana Stone, a Kent State freshman.

Access to safe abortion services is a human right. Forcing someone to carry an unwanted pregnancy or to seek out an unsafe abortion is a violation of their human rights, including the rights to privacy and bodily autonomy. Furthermore, denying someone abortion care has devastating and lasting consequences for the pregnant person, as it can jeopardize their health, economic well-being, and ability to determine their future.

Restricting abortions does nothing to reduce the number of abortions that people have; it only forces people to seek out unsafe abortions. Alternatively, pregnancy carries more significant risks than abortion does. A 2021 research study predicted that abortion bans would lead to a 21 percent increase in pregnancy-related deaths.

People will die if Roe is overturned, which is far from the “pro-life” stance that opponents of abortion often take. According to NPR, before Roe, anywhere from 200,000 to 1,000,000 illegal abortions took place each year. A majority of the Supreme Court will have blood on their hands.

Those most harmed by these decisions will continue to be people of color, people in rural areas, young people, immigrants, and low-income individuals, who face systemic barriers to medical care. People living in areas considered “hostile” towards abortion would likely have to travel to a state with laws protecting abortion, which is highly inaccessible. Wealthy individuals will always have access to abortion, so ending Roe is an attack on the autonomy of the poor among many others.

In the past, justices have been hesitant when overturning a precedent, and usually only after public opinions toward the subject had changed. However, a majority of the American people support abortion rights. According to a January CNN poll, “nearly 70 percent of Americans do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.” Despite this issue being seized by vocal extremists, the numbers are certain; people support legal access to abortion.

With the leaking of the Supreme Court draft, one thing has been made terribly clear: the overturning of abortion rights is just the beginning. Alito’s reasoning for overturning Roe is simple. Since the Constitution doesn’t mention the word “abortion,” any claim that there is a constitutional right to one must show that legal abortions have been “deeply rooted in our nation’s history and traditions.”

Roe’s logic hinges on a person’s right to privacy. Overturning Roe could also undermine other rights to which Americans have grown accustomed, such as access to contraceptives and gay marriage, which also hinge on a right to privacy.

Even though the word “privacy,” like the word “abortion,” does not appear in the Constitution, justices have held the stance that it could be inferred from the text. Even if Alito is correct that legal abortion is not “deeply rooted” in our culture, he ignores the fact that women were denied nearly all rights we now take for granted for much of history.

Obviously, the Constitution says nothing about abortion, because it does not mention women. It was written by a group of all white and mostly wealthy men, who weren’t concerned with reproductive rights or any rights for women. Over the past century, the United States has rejected the worst of the founders’ beliefs and strived to respond to the needs of a changing society, either through constitutional amendments or modern interpretations of the text they created. So, why is abortion any different?

Overturning Roe is not about protecting human life; it is about control. In brazenly ignoring 50 years of its own precedent and the will of the American people, this draft ruling would destroy the legitimacy of the court. At best, abortion would only become inaccessible to those living in restricted areas. However, the more likely outcome would be an increase in maternal mortality and an influx of unwanted children. I truly hope that I am wrong. Everyone should have the right to decide what happens to their body. It’s that simple.

Abortion bans are not pro-life. They are pro-poverty, pro-inequality, and pro-cruelty.

General Interest Opinion Politics

Opinion: Critical Race Theory Is Not The Enemy

People of Color Are Not Background Characters in U.S. History

by Havann Brown, editor-in-chief

JANUARY 2022  Too often, people attempt to sanitize and erase the uncomfortable parts of history. Conversations about systemic oppression are often ignored in schools and, in some cases, banned. For example, Arizona teachers were told they could face a $5,000 penalty if they allowed classroom discussions on “controversial” topics, such as racism. In Texas, teachers were advised to include books that offer opposing viewpoints of the Holocaust in their curriculum. Educators are being asked to reason with some of history’s greatest atrocities in an attempt to provide both sides of an issue. How does one show diverse a perspective of the Holocaust or slavery?

Critical race theory (CRT) is the latest topic to be banned from classrooms. As a complex legal theory, CRT states that “U.S. social institutions (e.g., the criminal justice system, education system, labor market, housing market, and healthcare system) are laced with racism embedded in laws, regulations, rules, and procedures that lead to differential outcomes by race,” according to the Brookings Institution. Opponents, however, have seized upon the phrase to describe anything they view as an intrusion of equity and inclusion into our education system. Despite popular belief, critical race theory is taught primarily in college-level courses. According to a survey conducted by the Association of American Educators, 96 percent of kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers said their schools did not require them to teach critical race theory.

Eight states have outlawed the teaching of CRT, a concept they believe will negatively influence their K through 12 students. In Ohio, House Bills 322 and 327 were presented to the House State and Local Government Committee. The bills seek to ban “divisive language” about the role of racism in American history and withhold funding from schools that act against it. The bans of critical race theory from the classroom are attempts to avoid the responsibility to depict historical and current racial inequities accurately.

Nearly 20 states have introduced or plan to introduce legislation banning concepts related to critical race theory. The legislation bans discussions about topics ranging from unconscious bias and privilege to discrimination and oppression. Additionally, opponents of CRT are hoping to stop the teaching of books that explore anti-racism. Photo by Havann Brown, editor-in-chief.

Topics people are calling critical race theory is simply acknowledging the fact that this country’s origins are rooted in prejudice. Politicians are framing discussions of these so-called “divisive concepts” as an attack on students when in reality, talking about America’s true history would only help them. The same legislators poorly attempting to redefine education standards can’t even define critical race theory or name the scholars behind it. Instead of educating themselves, they have manufactured a fight to keep accurate history out of schools because it might make certain students “feel bad.” If someone feels attacked after hearing about the racist history of their ancestors, they should do some self-reflection, not blame their history teacher.

As a student, I worry about the future of education. Will our country reach a point where people no longer learn about the Trail of Tears or Jim Crow Laws because they are deemed too controversial? At Bio-Med Science Academy, multiple teachers have told me they would quit their jobs if legislation passes that undermines their ability to educate students effectively. If good teachers leave, who will fill their place? Efforts to mask the events of the past hurt students and teachers alike, further weakening the educational system.

Concepts students learn in their classrooms greatly influence how they interact within society. Rather than preparing teachers to equip students with the necessary resources to navigate the world, politicians are preventing progress. Bans against CRT deny white students the opportunity to grapple with our country’s complex history. In addition, it subjects students of color to an educational experience that does not fully acknowledge their existence. Without addressing it in the classroom, some students will never have the skills or the context to help them understand why disparities exist between groups of people.

Critical race theory is not the enemy. The censorship of history only limits students’ exposure to inquiry and critical thinking. Teaching accurate history means teaching the truth. If the truth is rooted in racism, systemic oppression, and atrocities, then it needs to be shared.                    

People of color are not background characters in U.S. history, nor do we exist to perpetuate a false narrative. We are essential to the American story and deserve to have our accurate history told.

General Interest Opinion Politics