Newton Students Urge to Stop Gun Stores in Newton

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Dear Mayor Fuller and Members of the Council,

We, the students of Newton South, are writing to convey our deep anxiety about and to call for a BAN of the planned opening of a firearm store in our city. Newton has long been seen as one of the safest cities in the United States, and many families make an effort to move here for that exact reason. A firearm store in our city would put its students, families, and other residents in danger of being another tragedy to gun violence. We implore you to do everything in your power—such as passing a strict zoning ordinance—to protect our community’s safety and wellbeing.

Newton is home to twenty-one K-12 public schools, with 12,611 students enrolled (NPS ‘Our Schools’). Having a gun shop in our city will make it easier for anyone to obtain a firearm and use it to enact violence at a school, regardless of how close that school is to the store. However, of the twenty-one schools, five (Newton North High School, F.A. Day Middle School, Cabot, Horace Mann, and Lincoln-Eliot Elementary School) are within a one-mile radius of the proposed firearm store location; this further increases the ease at which one of these schools could experience a gun-related incident. 

Students are already reminded of the very imminent threat of gun violence at their schools every day. We have been put through active shooter drills at least once a year, in every class, since elementary school; we seek out areas in which to hide whenever we enter a new classroom; we take our phones with us when we go to the bathroom, just in case we need to text our parents if something happens; and, we have seen our peers around the United States be murdered ruthlessly in their schools time after time.

Allowing a gun store to open in Newton has tangible detriments to our city’s safety. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a record surge in gun sales in America. Critically, the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center found in 2020 that there was an association between this rapid boost in sales and shootings. Opening a gun store in Newton only opens the possibility of a tragedy—like the recent event in Colorado—occurring in our community. Moreover, the legal hurdles for gun purchases aren’t enough to prevent gun violence—the New York Times studied 19 mass shootings and found that the firearms used were bought legally with a federal background check in the vast majority of instances. Further, the FBI studied dozens of active shooting incidents between 2000 and 2013 and found that 98% of the active shooters purchased firearms legally. Given the context that to date, there has been at least one mass shooting every day in 2021, and 2020 saw an unprecedented number of mass shootings; the last thing Newton should be doing is inviting guns into our community. 

The city of Newton should enact a ban on gun stores within the city limits. Our city and local government should be taking measures to ensure our safety rather than creating easier access to weapons and seemingly turning their backs on Newton’s students and putting them in harm’s way. 

We’ve valued immensely the safety we, as Newton students, have grown up in, and we hope that you will do everything in your power to maintain this for the next generations of Newton students.