Citizens of New Hampshire, it is time to begin working on sensible gun laws

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We, Alexandria Baker, Mara Brooks, Mackenzie Finocchiaro, and Violet Villanueva, four students at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, New Hampshire, have written a letter which is to be sent to our representatives, senators, and governor. Below is the letter verbatim. Any signatures which we may receive on here, any posts spreading this petition on social media, would be of great value to us as we begin to fight against our state's senseless gun laws which allow for such violence as the most recent shooting in Parkland, Florida. We would like to thank all of you in advance, the readers, for your time and consideration in reading this letter: 

We, the undersigned, write this letter in response to recent events concerning gun violence. Similar to many of the victims of the recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, we are currently high school students. In light of this recent event, we have become very concerned for our safety and future as we finish up our final year at high school.

We, the writers of this letter, are currently attending Pinkerton Academy in Derry, New Hampshire, a school with over twenty academic buildings and a student population which matches that of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Throughout these past few weeks on campus, there has been a notable rise in anxiety amongst our student body, as we are now forced to come to school worrying about when our lives will become the next statistics in a news article.  The large size and openness of our campus have left us feeling highly vulnerable, especially in the face of gun control laws that are far too relaxed.  

In the state of New Hampshire, citizens are not required to be licensed for ownership of a long gun or handgun. In fact, these weapons do not even need to be registered. The appalling ease with which any citizen can acquire such a deadly piece of technology allows for a sizeable gap in the regulation of gun possession and therefore leaves ownership open to even the most unstable or violent civilians. However terrifying these laws, or lack thereof, appear in context with gun violence in America, they only stand in the shadow of perhaps an even greater legal crisis in the state: the ownership of assault weapons.

Currently, in New Hampshire, there are no laws prohibiting the ownership of assault weapons. As of present day, any New Hampshire citizen who so desires could acquire an assault rifle with notable ease. In fact, it was the AR-15, the exact sort of assault-weapon allowed in New Hampshire, which took more than forty lives in Sandy Hook and Marjory Stoneman combined.

Assault weapons such as the AR-15 are derivatives of military ammunition that have one specific purpose: to kill another human being.  One may argue that such weapons may be used for hunting or protection against home invasions.  However, any knowledgeable hunter would not choose to use a high-powered assault rifle while hunting, as the magnitude and power of the bullets would severely damage the animal. As for protection against home invasions, such guns are very long and take up much space, and holding the gun while trying maneuver around the house makes escaping the attack very difficult.  Assault rifles were not produced to hunt.  Assault rifles were not produced to protect individuals from invasions.  Assault rifles were produced for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill another person. No law-abiding civilian has any logical reason to own a machine that is built to kill.  With this being said, we seek that the New Hampshire state legislature ban the use, sale, and ownership of said assault rifles.

One may argue that banning assault rifles will not do anything to prevent future mass shootings, as perpetrators will find other means of carrying out such heinous crimes, such as less powerful handguns, and that there is nothing that can be done to prevent mass murders.  This is very true.  Shootings can still be carried out with simple handguns.  However, less powerful handguns do not have nearly the same power capacity as assault rifles.  A mass shooting with a handgun would result in far less damage than an assault rifle, as less powerful non-automatic weapons take much more time to prepare and load with ammunition than assault rifles do.  There would be far less damage done, as security officials would be able to apprehend the person in ample time.  And we are not calling for banning handguns, as we recognize that there is a time and a place for the Second Amendment.  However, our Founding Fathers did not write the Second Amendment to give criminals the means of easily slaughtering numerous innocent people.  If we can take away high-powered assault rifles, then any future perpetrator will be deprived of the means to easily carry out such a terrible crime of such a horrible magnitude. God forbid, but if the tragic occasion were still to come about, then we could at least reduce the gravity of the situation and save many more lives.  However, none of this can happen without action on the local and state level.

Since the events at Marjory Stoneman, New Hampshire has remained largely silent. At Pinkerton Academy, students continue to go about their daily routines, walking from class-to-class through the strip of pavement which extends behind the Hackler Gymnasium and branches out to every one of the academic buildings on campus. While school administration has begun to strengthen school security and increase the regulation of visitors, a feeling of dread still hangs over students at the Academy, as we wait nervously for Pinkerton to appear in the headlines as the newest tragedy, just like Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

We do not write this letter in order to repeal the Second Amendment, nor do we write this letter to the strip the law-abiding Americans of their handguns and long guns. Just as importantly, we do not write this letter to criminalize those weapons which have been appropriately used for hunting and home security.

We write this letter because we fear for our lives. We write this letter because we fear for our 3,200 classmates who walk that strip behind the gym, for our 3,200 classmates whose lives could be terminated at any moment by a weapon built for murder. We write this letter to ask you, our representatives, senators, and governor, to take action against the senseless violence of which innocent Americans have been victims for far too many times. It is time that we put an end the legal possession of assault weapons in the state of New Hampshire. It is time for us to make gun ownership a process which allows possession of firearms for only the safest and most secure New Hampshire citizens.

Most importantly, we write because no student should go to school having to worry that he or she may not come out alive.


*Cover photo courtesy of the Union Leader.


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