by Jack Boerger
After reading Abbi Berry’s online letter in El Gato regarding the walkout, I would like to respond to the questions asked in the article. Considering that her article anonymously describes me, I feel obligated to write a response. I openly admit to being one of the people dressed in American flag apparel holding the sign that read “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People.” I was not hiding under an American flag; rather, I was trying to stand up and be seen for the opposing views that were so heavily suppressed by the movement and school administration. Also, my actions were not intended to minimize from the event nor the victims of school shootings. There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the stance I took at the walkout, and this letter is meant to clear up a lot of these misunderstandings and libelous assumptions.
I was merely there to protest the idea of banning so called “assault rifles” which, first of all, do not exist, considering the fact that “assault” is a verb, not a noun. Anything could be labeled an assault object when used to assault someone or something, but a gun on the shelf of a store cannot be called an assault rifle because it has never assaulted anyone or anything. Although I do not believe that these guns are the only element enabling school shootings, I do think there are some regulations that need to be updated. I believe that stricter gun laws need to take place when buying and owning this type of tool. Guns are not the only thing that enable school shootings. The background check system in place is very strong but does need some updating. There also needs to be a better check done on oneself and their family prior to someone taking home a gun. So before we vote to ban all “assault rifles,” why don’t we first look at some other options that would better our nation as a whole.
Responding to the questions you wrote in the letter questioning my stance on school shootings, it is not my fault that people don’t feel safe going to school, as I have done nothing to cause that. There was also nothing I did to sacrifice my safety nor anybody else’s safety at any school or place on Earth. I did nothing to marginalize the lost lives, for I held my peace during the moment of silence and was there to give remembrance to the victims. If I was looking for a reaction, this was not it. I was not expecting someone to tarnish my image through the school newspaper, considering they had no clue why I was there nor what I was protesting. I believe I have every right, just as anyone else did, to go out there and voice my opinion. And, to answer your other question about the attendance of football games versus the walkout, I believe this is because the walkout became much more political than it had to be. I was hoping to give my respect for the advertised 17 minutes and hear about the people who died, only to have it changed into something more political. Furthermore, the event only lasted about ten or twelve minutes total. This seems to be an important point that failed to be highlighted, even though it was a central issue raised by students at the high school where the recent tragedy occurred. At a football game, everyone there feels safe and relaxed knowing everyone in attendance shares a single focus, much like how this memorial walkout should have been structured. But when one side starts blaming the other and shooting down all of our ideas and beliefs, it is no longer a memorial, but a one-sided rant that leaves people unheard.
Above all, I believe that everyone has a right to express their opinion and not feel ostracized nor pressured into silence. We would all be better served if people would assume the best about one another’s motivations rather than trying to launch into personal attacks in an effort to further your side. Your questions were not questions; instead, they were thinly veiled attacks.
So rather than trying to publicly demonize those with a different view while setting yourself on some exclusive moral high ground, a better course might be to actually have a real conversation with someone like me who has a different point of view. Trying to shame or attack people that may have a different point of view only serves to further divide us, and I would argue, is not an effective way to make actual progress. While I understand your frustration that emanates from your beliefs, the way you went about spreading your angry assumptions about my political beliefs and why I stood against the walkout was discourteous and uncalled for.
Working with one another is the first step to getting anything useful done about this topic, and I am more than willing to having a conversation about my beliefs mentioned above. Thank you for reading and feel free to talk to me about anything you have to say.
Walkout opinion piece: https://elgatonews.com/2018/03/14/opinion-berry-writes-an-open-letter-to-lghs-regarding-the-walkout/