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The Lone Star Gazette January


The Lone Star Gazette January  

Are Gun-Free Zones Really the Answer to Stopping Mass Shootings? By Graham Smith one time, then chances are they believe that they will either die that day or get life in When thinking of ways to prevent tragic prison. On top of all the charges, a criminal shootings, it seems like common sense that looking at a life sentence and possibly the so called “Gun-Free Zones” are a necessity, death penalty is not going to care about the however since the Gun-Free School Zones penalties for carrying a gun into a gun-free Act of 1990, there have been numerous fatal zone. The only people who care about the shootings in Gun-Free Zones, like Sandy Hook, Columbine, Fort Hood and Aurora, just penalties are law-abiding citizens, who are now forced by law to leave themselves to name a few. Now, why is it that all these unarmed and vulnerable. Also, if a shooter is tragic shootings have occurred in Gun-Free planning where to go, he has Zones? This was a “feel good law” that “ Can somebody explain why a choice of a gun free zone, actually did nothing you never hear about mass where he knows no one is but disarm the lawshootings at NRA armed and he can kill more people much easier or a abiding citizens conventions or gun shows? ”   regular place where many and create places filled with helpless victims. If many guns in the citizens are carrying guns that could stop his terrifying plan. I assure you that he will choose hands of law-abiding citizens are causing the gun-free zone every time. It is not fair to mass shootings, then can somebody explain why you never hear about mass shootings at dictate that innocent children and teachers should have a higher chance of being killed in NRA conventions or gun shows? Even in the rare cases that there were shootings at these a shooting than others in regular places. places, there were never more than five The whole people shot compared to the dozens that die idea behind Gunin many tragic school shootings. Many gun Free Zones is control activists argue that guns in schools based on the might cause more chaos during a shooting, wrong assumption and potentially hitting students accidentally. that criminals obey While this might be true, I can promise that the law. The the students would have a much higher simple truth is that chance of survival with a teacher equipped and trained with a firearm than if their teacher they do not, that’s what makes them was unarmed. criminals. According to Let’s take a moment to explore the Bloomberg thoughts of a potential shooter. If somebody plans on killing as many people as possible at Politics, since 2003, there are 300 million


The Lone Star Gazette January  

more firearms in the hands of civilians, and murder has decreased by 17%. Clearly, the idea that more guns means more crime is completely false, as illustrated by this trend. Just take a look at Chicago. In Chicago, concealed-carry is banned, “assault rifles” are banned, sale of firearms within city limits are banned, and there are many more restrictions. Despite all these laws, it still has some of the highest crime rates in the country. In 2012, there were 500 homicides, and 435 of them involved guns. To put this into perspective, in 2011 in Dallas, there were only 133 homicides, yet Texas has some of the least restrictive gun legislature in the country. Clearly the real problem is gun control itself. Let’s say that, god forbid, a shooter is storming into your high school, intent on killing as many people as possible. Would you feel more comfortable if your teacher was carrying a gun or if they were unarmed? Even if the teacher was not skilled at shooting a gun (which they would have to be even if gun-free zone laws were repealed!), you would feel a lot better than if you were helplessly waiting in a classroom, preparing to get shot. The valid argument could be made that a teacher could accidentally shoot a student in the panic, but the shooter would

most likely get hit also. However, if the teacher was not armed, the gunman would kill all of the children in the room with no obstacles. As Andrew Breitbart, a gun-rights supporter said, “We should be practicing how to use guns to defend our lives and the lives of our loved ones rather than practicing how to flee, ‘shelter in place,’ or hide in fear until the police can find and protect us.” I would like to end with telling the tragic story of Suzanna Hupp. On October 16, 1991, she was eating lunch with her parents at Luby’s (then a gun-free zone) when a madman drove his truck into the restaurant and began methodically shooting people with no resistance. Suzanna had a firearm in her car, but chose not to bring it in to avoid breaking the law. When Suzanna went to grab her gun, she remembered that she had left it in her car. Her father tried in vain to stop the gunman with nothing more than a butter knife and salt shaker, and was shot. Her mother refused to leave his side, and eventually the gunman calmly walked over to her and shot her in the head. That day, 23 innocent people died and 27 more were wounded. Luckily, Suzanna managed to escape, but she regrets to this day leaving the gun in her car to obey the law. Just imagine the lives that would have been saved if she had chosen to take the gun with her.


The Lone Star Gazette January  

On Fall State By Juliana Dunn

Every Every year JSA’ers from across Texas gather in Austin, inside the capitol building, to discuss and debate domestic policy and international issues. Once again this year, Texas JSA’s governor, speaking from the same podium from which the Texas governor addresses the House of Representatives, opened the annual Fall State Convention. Following her at the podium was guest speaker, Jerry Patterson, former Texas Land Commissioner and a Texas Lieutenant Governor candidate in the 2014 election. He advised students interested in government to, before running for office, gain experience outside of government and law, so that if chosen to represent the people, they could bring a fresh perspective to the table. This message of varied perspectives transcends partisan politics, and was a wonderful kickoff to the Progressing Beyond Partisanship, Fall State Convention. Fall State took place November 23-24th. Throughout the weekend, students had the opportunity to attend and participate in debates and thought talks. Among these was the Governor’s Gavel debate on the resolution: “Resolved: that college is a worthwhile investment.” This debate was filmed and submitted to a National

JSA best speaker competition. Also taking place was a mock Supreme Court trial: Town of Greece vs. Galloway. Simultaneously, student-elected senators met, deliberated, and wrote legislation. At meals, chapters got a chance to bond with other chapters while grabbing a bite to eat from one of Austin’s many great restaurants. At night, some JSA’ers kicked back and relaxed, but most were to be found dancing at the “Hoe Down Throw Down” themed dance, or participating in the talent show. Throughout the convention, attendees were encouraged not only to be politically active, but also to be socially active. Many donated to a charity that works to fight against human trafficking, and signed a petition, addressed to American legislators and officials, requesting that the United States ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Mid-day Sunday, Fall State was brought to a close by guest speakers Dr. James Henson and Texas Representative Naomi Gonzales. Dr. Henson provided a crash course.


The Lone Star Gazette January  

Carnegie Vanguard High School JSA’s Human Trafficking Awareness Letter Writing Campaign and Election Day Party By Juliana Elise Dunn

On the chilly Texas evening of November 5th, the sun was just setting as the Carnegie Vanguard High School’s Junior Statesmen of America (JSA) chapter got down to work. The room became a sea of laptops and lit up faces. Everyone was researching Texas JSA’s 2013 activism project, human trafficking awareness, and counting down the hours until the polling results of the mayoral election would begin pouring in. Thirty minutes later, armed with information and statistics on human trafficking, and with Texas legislators selected, the letter writing process began. The sound of fast fingers pounding away on keyboards intermingled with tentative predictions of election results. There were smiles all around. As drafts of letters reached completion, laptops were passed from person to person and edits were made. A general sense of satisfaction permeated throughout. It was fulfilling, they felt, to be the crusaders of such a serious and impactful cause. Human trafficking, they were discovering, is an issue entirely too real, and surprisingly close to home. The modern slave trade affects, according to the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, an

estimated 2.5 million people, who are in forced labor (including sexual exploitation) at any given time. As recently as October 11th, a sex trafficking operation was busted in the students’ own backyard. That night, undercover officers raided several nightclubs in the southeast region of Houston. Over a dozen were arrested and some of the girls rescued, Mexican immigrants, victims of human trafficking, were not yet even teenagers. They had been forced to work as prostitutes at the ages of 10 or 12. This and other similar stories filled the letters of the JSA’ers. Also included were striking statistics, including the fact that of all calls reporting human trafficking in the United States, 30% are from Texas. With such powerful material, the letters seemed to write themselves. Around 7:00 PM pizza arrived, and those who had finished writing and sending their letters, filtered through the kitchen, into the TV room. There they gathered, flipping through channels to find the local station airing the mayoral and city election results. Anticipation mounted as results from the polls began to arrive. The students chatted about mayoral

candidates and discussed what they thought ought to be the fate of the Astrodome. Intermittently, smart phones were fished out of pockets and employed to search for the names of local city council candidates or to research a previously unheard of proposition. The night ended contentedly around 8:00 for most. The Carnegie students said goodbye and see-youtomorrow to their classmates, packed up their laptops and their backpacks, and went home. The next day, the big news of the election was confirmed: Mayor Annise Parker was to serve her final term as Houston mayor and the Astrodome would not receive money for rennovations. Although most of the chapter’s members were not yet voting age, they could still feel the gratification of having participated in the political process. All were hopeful that their letters would raise awareness about human trafficking, and encourage state legislators to advocate for substantive legislation dealing with the issue. As Connor Burwell, the Carnegie JSA chapter president put it: “It just feels great to know that no matter who you are, you can help make a difference in your community. All it takes is a few friends and a mission, and you can have your voice heard.”


The Lone Star Gazette January  

Saint Mary’s Hall at Fall State By Sikander Zakriya involved not only announcements during assembly, but also required officers to hand out forms throughout the day, in order to make certain that the documents were readily available to students.

A Pre-calculus test on Tuesday, an AP English essay due on Wednesday, two Spanish quizzes, one on Monday and the other on Friday, all coupled with an AP U.S. History test and essay on Thursday could make for a very stressful week. Now imagine all of that on top of daily one hour meetings and time absorbing patrols of the hallways hunting for people with JSA forms, urging them to turn them in on time. This is the life a Saint Mary’s Hall JSA Officer lives. The largest chapter in the entire Texas Junior State, Saint Mary’s Hall recently attended Texas JSA’s Fall State Convention at the Capitol in Austin. While it was extremely entertaining and very successful, the behind the scenes preparations in which members of the SMH community partook were stressful, to say the least. Not only did students need to coordinate information with various bureaucracies, they also had to meet specific deadlines in order to ensure that their delegates were able to have a successful convention. Whether collecting the nationwide “JSA tax” from every member of the chapter or ensuring that everyone knew the essential information for their convention, SMH’s JSA officers were pushed to their limits, but in the end, they succeeded in their endeavor.

Members of the SMH JSA delegation aid Andrew W. '14 (seated) during his debate. Before the officers could even think about their own participation at Fall State, they had to secure the ten-dollar tax from each of the 261 members of the Saint Mary’s Hall chapter. The duty of tracking students down fell to the Treasurer of Saint Mary’s Hall JSA, Reagan N. ‘16, and to the Director of Expansion of Saint Mary’s Hall JSA, Michael L. ’15, who is also tasked with creating awareness about the club in order to increase the number of students who participate. After collecting all of the national tax revenue, the officers then focused on spreading the word about the convention. “I made numerous presentations and announcements on behalf of the club regarding convention information,” said Saint Mary’s Hall JSA’s Director of Communications, Bennett W. ’15. Disseminating the information about the convention

As JSA officers scrambled to enlist as many students as possible to attend Fall State, they trolled the hallways constantly, forms in hand, broadcasting to the school that they were searching for delegates. Next, officers were tasked with collecting all of the filled out paperwork and checks from those who wanted to attend. After a series of last second drop outs due to conflicts with the convention (basketball games, family occasions, and the like), the SMH delegation was at 58 people. However, the officers’ work still was not complete- they also had to find adult chaperones for the trip. Without chaperones, Saint Mary’s Hall would not allow a single student to attend the convention. Describing the chaperones’ duties, AP Government teacher and sponsor for Saint Mary’s Hall’s JSA chapter Mrs. Huffstickler said, “They are expected to take turns either in the congressional buildings or in the hotel, making sure students are getting back and forth from both locations safely.”


The Lone Star Gazette January   Enlisting these chaperones proved a difficult task as well, due to the timing of this year’s conventionthe first weekend of Thanksgiving break. Just as with many of the potential delegates, many of the teachers that were asked would be out of town or had conflicts due to pre-arranged family plans. In the end, The officers managed to obtain five teacher advisors; Ms. Gerri Walls, Mrs. Devon Lee, Colonel Karl Lee, Dr. Joanne Cox, and Mrs. Jane Huffstickler. Nonetheless, JSA still had to overcome a few final hurdles before reaching the finish line. All of the student officers had to struggle to meet deadlines between three very different organizations: the Saint Mary’s Hall JSA Chapter, the Texas Junior State of America, and the SMH administration. Once confirming the number of students, all the paperwork had to be presented to the administration so they could validate the use of school buses. “All of these bits of paper had to be accounted for and sent to the higher JSA state of Texas,” added Bennett. Another unique problem JSA faces is due to the magnitude of the organization. “Our very large size as a club means we can’t meet as a group and get

information dispersed effectively,” stated Mrs. Huffstickler. However, students were not the only ones who encountered problems, the club’s teacher advisor, Mrs. Huffstickler, also had her share of difficulties. “I don’t have any of the officers in any class, so I have to find them in either the dining hall or in the hallway.”

Members can also participate in comical activities as Michael L. ’15 debates whether or not North Korea is “Best Korea.” Amidst all of this preparation, these students still had to deal with other responsibilities, those that come with their 1st job, that of student. To some it may seem ridiculous for students to work this hard to motivate OTHER students to participate in a club, but for the SMH JSA officers, it is different. Managing this monumental task prepares students well for their future careers, but there’s also

another reason these students dedicate their time to JSA. “Even people who aren’t active with their political opinions can listen to others’ political opinions, and depending on how they react to them, they can gauge their own opinions and express their political voice at Fall State,” said Michael. Furthering the goal of creating a more informed citizenry before they become the leaders of tomorrow is why the officers do what they do. “JSA is my life,” joked Bennett. “It’s a labor of love, something I’ve enjoyed as a sophomore and encourage many freshmen and sophomores to try,” he added. While it may not be easy, the brave souls who invest their time and effort to improve the JSA experience, also to carry on the larger mission of JSA: to help create the better statesmen of tomorrow. At Fall State, as dozens of Saint Mary’s Hall students poured into the halls of the Capitol Building in Austin, the officers looked on with pride. As delegates engaged in heated debates over hot button political, social, and economic issues, the officers knew that they had achieved their mission- they had successfully created another Fall State.


The Lone Star Gazette January  

Prepare yourselves for Winter Congress 2014, held in Washington D.C.! The convention, taking place February 21 – 23, will see approximately one thousand high school students who are avidly active in the Junior Statement of America. They come from all across the Texas Junior State, U.S. Territories, and the Mid-Atlantic State to be involved this new year on a different level. Aside from the usual debates and thought talks, Winter Congress attendees will come to see the legislations that they wrote themselves either pass or fail during the midst of fervent arguments. A trip to a museum in Washington D.C. will take place prior to this Congress simulation. Students also have the opportunity to attend a special Capitol Hill speaker’s program. The midnight monument tour is another memorable, rewarding experience out of many that students will embark on. This is where amendments and compromises that serve as the foundation of our next generation take place. Don’t forget to register for Winter Congress! Registration packet is found on Texas JSA official website at http://states.jsa.org/texas/

More information about Winter Congress schedule will come in late January


The Lone Star Gazette January  

From The Lone Star The year has begun anew. JSA, with its diverse and energetic membership, continues doing as it has done since its inception—creating activism among young minds and promoting political sentience. The future is looking bright for the Texas sector of the Junior Statesmen of America, perhaps more than ever. After a successful Fall State with many engaging debates, members continue into Winter Congress, a meeting of minds from different states. Both following and concurrent of Winter Congress, individual chapters continue hosting their conferences, and promoting membership. We urge all readers to submit their opinions and writings on current issues. Publication in The Lone Star is both a great form of involvement and an avenue for having one’s opinion heard. Even better, BECOME A STAFF WRITER. We hope you have enjoyed this edition of The Lone Star and look forward to continued affiliation and a growing readership. Yours very truly, Juan M. Lopera, Editor-in-chief

IF INTERESTED IN PUBLICATION CONTACT publicity@texas.jsa.org OR jlopera@texas.jsa.org    

BE THE PEOPLE


Lone Star December-January Issue