Students stand in solidarity with California shooting victims


SWWOOKIE | WikipediaStudents from Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA were forced to enter lockdown after an active shooter was found in their school.

Addie Joseph

On Nov. 14, an armed student entered Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, and opened fire, fatally wounding two students and shooting three more before turning the gun on himself and pulling the trigger. Authorities say the attack took only 16 seconds.

That morning, Sona Nardos, 25, woke up to the sound of her cell phone ringtone. 

On the other end, she heard the panicked voice of her best friend, asking if her younger brother, Mikael, attends Saugus High School. Nardos replied that he didn’t; he was still in his last year of junior high. 

“Thank God,” her friend had replied, “because there’s a shooting at Saugus right now.”

When she walked out to the living room, Nardos saw her parents watching the news and learned that her mother had been woken by a similar call from her brother, though she’d missed it by seconds. 

“When my mom saw that he called her,” Nardos shared, “she was like ‘okay, this must be important, he never calls when he’s at school.’ And when she called him back, the first thing he said is ‘there’s a shooting at Saugus, we’re on lockdown.’”

It wasn’t until 4 o’clock that Nardos saw her brother again. 

His school, Arroyo Seco Junior High, lifted its lockdown late, due to its close proximity and connection to Saugus High School. 

Once parents were able to pick up their children, they had to wait to enter the building one by one to do so. 

It had taken Nardos’ father two hours to bring Mikael home. 

Mikael later said that while he was scared earlier on in the day, he wasn’t as affected as his friends who have older siblings that attend Saugus. 

Later on, however, he started to grow nervous at the thought of attending Saugus in the next academic year.

“My mom and I had to sit down and tell him that like, it’s not the school, it’s the person. It doesn’t matter what school you’re at,” said Nardos. 

This sentiment is also felt by Baruch students, who are growing frustrated at the continuing presence of gun violence. 

This week, the United States has already experienced three more fatal shootings following the Saugus shooting.

“Every time you hear about something like this happening, it’s just more frustrating because like I feel that things like this are very preventable if we were to just offer more support for people with mental illness and gun control, things like that,” said Taina Torres, a sophomore at Baruch.

Following an increase in gun violence, schools in recent years have been implementing drills and lockdown procedures in the event that a tragedy should strike their campuses. 

But, Baruch students raise concern that these policies don’t do much more than instill fear in younger children.

“Kids shouldn’t have to go through all these drills that like, ‘Oh there’s a chance you might die,’” Baruch sophomore Maryam Jamal shared exasperatedly. “They’re like little kids.”

What these drills instead do is reveal how vulnerable students are in the face of school shooters, where an absence of substantial policy changes have failed them. 

“It just instills this fear into literally everyone that no matter where you are at any given moment someone’s gonna walk up with a gun and shoot you. And that’s insane!” exclaimed Nardos. 

“That’s insane, no kid should have to go to school scared that someone’s gonna’ just kill them.”

Following the Parkland Shooting that claimed 17 innocent lives last year, Santa Clarita residents got involved in making sure that the same type of tragedy wouldn’t inflict their community. 

Students, including those who attended Saugus High School, participated in March For Our Lives Walkout event in March 2018 and the greater community hosted a March For Our Lives rally later on that same month to draw attention to the policies and trends that potentially allow such tragedies to take place. 

Some students even went on to host a town hall to facilitate gun control conversations between community members. 

But it wasn’t enough to prevent history from repeating itself. 

That knowledge is enough to strike fear in many students. 

“It is something that a lot of people have to live in fear of until there’s like real action we can take towards preventing it,” Torres explained, also suggesting that through legislation, future tragedies can be prevented.

But perhaps the reason behind the government’s trepidation to act to remedy America’s gun violence epidemic lies in the complexity of the issue. 

While New Yorkers broadly don’t have an affinity to guns, there are areas of the United States where owning guns is no anomaly. 

Jackson Gable, an out-of-state student from Oklahoma City, OK, noted that he views guns as tools, rather than solely as weapons, and suggested less radical ideas for preventing gun violence.

“My solution isn’t banning guns though, it’s about more psychological screening, making sure that, you know, guns have to be locked up in a safe when there’s other people around, that sort of thing,” Gable explained.

Others, like Nardos, have called for much stricter gun control laws nationally. 

But, regardless of how people conjecture solutions to gun violence, most still agree it’s an issue that government officials should be paying more attention to and recall, with bewilderment, the days where it wasn’t such a pressing issue in everyday life.

“Back when I was in Saugus,” Nardos had recalled, “that was never even a thought in my head, that someone would just walk into school and shoot up the place. Back then that would have been a crazy thing to think that would happen.”