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Do the names Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg sound familiar?
In March, immediately following the shooting at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, a national campaign in favor of banning firearms rose out of Florida, spearheaded by these two survivors-turned-activists. Across the nation, waves of Americans raised their voices in reply. Some voiced their support. Others, their disapproval.
After the event, there was an abundance of columnists, news anchors, show hosts, politicians and thousands of personalities on social media whose were happy to speak out. Although its focus was on school safety and not gun laws, GSHS also spoke out in March. Clearly, school security is more pertinent to GS, but gun laws are, understandably, part of the conversation. To capture this conversation, The Lions Den took a voluntary poll of the GS student body on their opinions on gun laws and armed violence.
While examining the data, The Lions Den asks that the readers remember that a poll is only a representation of public opinion, not an accurate picture of any one person’s opinion. Individual opinions themselves are more complicated than a simple yes or no.
Do you believe stricter gun laws or gun control measures will decrease the risk of school shootings?
Students were polled during 2nd and 3rd lunch on April 25. Students were also asked their sex and grade, but were told they could refuse to answer any or all parts of the question. Some did not mark either their sex or grade, but the vast majority were totally compliant. Most, but not all, of the lunch tables were polled per lunch period.
Total Polled: 180 students
Male / Female: 92 / 87
Senior / Junior / Sophomore / Freshman: 56 / 32 / 60 / 32 *
For those not graph-savvy, here’s a point-by-point rundown:
- Overall, a little over half of GS students believe that stricter gun laws will not decrease the risk of school shootings.
- About one in three GS students believe that stricter gun laws will decrease the risk of school shootings.
- About one in ten GS students are unsure of the effects of stricter gun laws.
- The majority of male students believe that the risk of school shootings will not be decreased by stricter gun laws, whereas females appear much more divided on the issue.
- When it comes to the effects of gun laws on school shootings, female students appear more unsure than male students.
- On average, freshman are least sure about this issue, whereas juniors are most sure.*
*By happenstance, about half as many Juniors and Freshmen were polled as the other two classes. Thus, accuracy within these categories should be regarded as questionable.
According to a survey taken by Hamilton College in 2013, the overall results at Greensburg Salem are not extreme by any means. The raw data from the survey can be accessed here. Hamilton’s 941-student nationwide survey reported that about 47 percent of high school seniors believed that stricter gun laws would decrease gun violence to some degree. Three years later, the respective number at GS was 46 percent. For the opposing opinion, Hamilton’s number was higher. This is likely because Hamilton’s survey had a different method which did not include a ‘Not Sure” option.
However, Hamilton College reported that the opinions showed no difference in opinion between the sexes. Interestingly, this is not the case for GS. Male GS students appear twice as likely as females to say that gun laws would not be effective at stopping school shootings.
There may not be anyone at GS who has been empowered as much as Hogg, Gonzalez and the survivor activists in Parkland, but that does not mean that GS students don’t have the ability to get involved, make a statement, and be informed.