Sabika Sheikh, a 17-year-old Pakistani student on a foreign exchange programme in the United States, was among the ten people killed in the Santa Fe school shooting, carried out by a fellow student. Sabika was studying in the US, under the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programme since August 21, 2017, and was due to return home next month.
In the first twenty weeks of this year, there have already been 22 school shootings where someone was hurt or killed, that averages out to more than 1 shooting a week. At Parkland in Florida in February, 17 people were confirmed killed by an ex-student firing an assault weapon, in the worst school mass shooting of 2018 so far. The tragedy sparked a new national grassroots movement, led by surviving students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school where the Parkland shooting happened, calling for greater restrictions and background checks on gun ownership. Donald Trump floated the idea of tighter gun control but also the option of arming teachers, and has not made any substantive changes that affect gun availability in the US.
The Santa Fe shootings have once again ignited debate on the contentious issue of gun control in the United States. Gun control is one of the most divisive issues in American politics. Proponents of stricter gun regulations fear for their safety in a country where there is an average of 88 guns per 100 people with around 114,994 people shot each year in the US. This includes murders, assaults, accidents, police intervention, suicide attempts and suicides. Opponents, however, also fear a loss of safety. They argue that restricting the right to bear arms would leave citizens unable to protect themselves in their daily lives or, in a worst-case scenario, from a government turned against the people.
The repeated tragedies continue to spark deeply divided political responses, with some Americans urging tighter laws on gun sales and ownership and others advocating for putting more armed guards in schools, or making it easier for teachers and parents to carry their own concealed weapons. However, the Santa Fe incident has once popped up a reminder that something has to change.
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