Tag Archives: Amanda Hansen

Memorial Day Matters in Attleboro

 

By: Amanda Hansen

War vehicle at Attleboro’s 2014 Memorial Day Parade (Photo by/ Amanda Hansen)

War vehicle at Attleboro’s 2014 Memorial Day Parade (Photo by/ Amanda Hansen)

Memorial Day began three years after the Civil War ended, when in May 1868 Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30.

It was first called Decoration Day because Logan’s intended purpose for the day was to decorate veteran’s graves with flowers. It is believed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that it was set for May 30 because by that time of the year flowers would be in bloom all across the states.

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of May. Most towns and large cities arrange a parade to commemorate the day.

As I’ve gotten older, Memorial Day has gotten more significant for me. I have an older brother who was in the Marine Corps; thankfully he didn’t die, so Memorial Day doesn’t truly apply to him. However, he was willing to sacrifice his own life for this country and that still means a great deal.  When I was younger I never really thought about it, but in the course of growing up and explaining stuff to my son, I’ve gotten a new appreciation for it and what price my brother could have paid to keep us safe, and free,” said Attleboro High School (AHS) science teacher Mrs. Deanna Wells-Scott.

Every year Attleboro’s Memorial Day Parade ends at Capron Park Zoo, where blankets and lawn chairs are set up all over the field lining the street. The procession includes war veterans throwing candy, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, the AHS band, fire trucks, and police cars with their lights flashing and sirens blaring.

“I think Memorial Day is important to those who have lost important people in their life to war. It provides a day to remember them,” said AHS senior Andria Rodrigues.

Memorial Day doesn’t only celebrate the fallen soldiers; it’s dedicated to honoring all veterans, retired, disabled, and current active duty.

AHS English teacher Ms. Adeline Bee is the daughter of a World War II decorated Army retiree, the widow of an Army Captain, and the mother of an Air Force Captain currently stationed overseas.

“Memorial Day means thanking all those veterans and their families for what they’ve given up to keep not just Americans free but to help other people around the world access freedom. We are so lucky to live in the United States, and I am very grateful to all the men and women who serve our country. Their dedication should never be taken for granted,” said Bee.

Even though war is never welcomed or preferred, veterans and active duty members are still risking their lives for the freedom of their country.

“I’m not one for war, and I think wars have started for a lot of stupid reasons but soldiers should be remembered and appreciated. I don’t like what they do but they do it for other people. In some cases, it’s been our only choice,” said AHS freshman Haleigh Robinson.

Some AHS students are related to veterans and Memorial Day is important to their families.

“My grandfather is a Vietnam veteran. Every year we go to the parade and set up chairs in the grass along the street. He wears his veteran hat and a lot of people passing by him will smile and wave or say hello and chat for a couple minutes,” said Robinson.

Robinson’s grandfather, Richard Boultenhouse, 63, of Attleboro was stationed on the USS Agerholm during the Vietnam War and spent three months on the gun lines, firing against North Vietnamese soldiers.

“Things were different then, people were protesting the war and there was no public support for soldiers in Vietnam. When I got leave and was able to stay in the states, I would wear civilian clothes as often as I could. It was like we were ashamed to be Navy men. People could usually still tell though, because of our haircuts and clean shave, and they’d yell rude things at us,” said Boultenhouse.

Today, the wars America is involved in aren’t blamed on the soldiers. Generally, even those who don’t support the war still view soldiers as heroes.

“Memorial Day is important to me because I’m a Vietnam Veteran. Now, veterans are seen as honorable people. Back then, being in Vietnam was something we hid from people. I also think it’s important to member loved ones who have passed, not just veterans who died in war,” said Boultenhouse.

Memorial Day brings Attleboro together. The parade, followed by the speeches given at Capron Park Zoo by Mayor Kevin Dumas, draws large crowds.

On any national holiday, whether it is Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, the feeling of the town changes, even if it’s just for the day.

“I like the parade, obviously, but I also like the speeches the mayor gives at Capron after. It brings the community together and the feeling of the day changes. Just like for the Fourth of July, people come together and everyone’s friendly, for the most part,” said Boultenhouse.

Memorial Day matters to Attleboro, whatever the personal reasons. The community comes together, people are friendly, and Veterans, along with any who have passed are honored and remembered.

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Aspen Student Portal

 

Student checks his grades in Aspen (Photo by/Amanda Hansen)

Student checks his grades in Aspen (Photo by/Amanda Hansen)

By: Amanda Hansen

Attleboro High School (AHS) uses Aspen, an online service for recording and viewing grades. Teachers are able to assign different weights to certain areas of work, such as class work and homework. Aspen will then calculate the final grade automatically.

In Feb., students in grades nine through eleven were able to use Aspen to request next year’s courses. The courses made available to students were based on grade level and prerequisites. These were the only classes that appeared as options, making the selection a bit easier.

“It was simpler than I thought it would be. I didn’t have to figure out on my own what classes were available and it was simple to rank electives in order of how interested I was in them,” said AHS freshman Haleigh Robinson, after using the portal for the first time.

Passwords can be reset if they’re forgotten by clicking the “I forgot my password” button below the password insert box. A pop-up box appears, and walks the user through the steps of resetting a password. Students can also talk to Scheduling Coordinator Mr. Andrew Parillo or secretary Mrs. Carolyn Bosh, both of which are located on the balcony, if a password is forgotten.

“If you’re having trouble logging on, come speak to me or Mrs. Bosh on the balcony and we’ll help you out,” said Parrillo.

Aspen allows students to view their grades whenever they need to, an advantage that wasn’t previously available. Teachers are required to update grades in Aspen at least every two weeks, but it is done at the teacher’s discretion.

“I like Aspen because I feel like I have more power and control about my grades and how I’m doing. I can go onto Aspen and figure out what I’m missing for every class, get it all done, and pass it all in without needing to come after school to talk to my teachers one at a time,” said AHS senior Shaun Monast.

As simple and convenient as Aspen is, it can take some getting used to. “There are some aspects that aren’t great. Navigating the site can be a bit cumbersome,” said Parrillo.

With Aspen, parents also have easier access to their children’s grades and progress in school. Instead of having to speak with individual teachers, parents can view everything in one convenient place, the Aspen Parent Portal.

“Parents have their own log-in through the Aspen Parent Portal. We want them to log on with their own account, not their children’s. If a parent has two children in Attleboro Public Schools, they can view all of their children in the Parent Portal. They don’t have to log in to their son’s, then log out and log in again to their daughter’s,” said Parrillo.

Aspen also makes inputting grades and keeping students up-to-date simpler for teachers.

“Personally, I don’t leave the building each day until all my grades are updated for that school day. I feel I owe it to my students to keep them apprised day-to-day of where they stand in the class in terms of grades. Then it is up to the student to check in and see where they are and what’s going on. It is all at their fingertips if they take the initiative to look,” said mathematics teacher Mr. Derek Brooks.

Aspen even has a new feature for educators that will soon be available, allowing for better communication and sharing of ideas, tests, worksheets, and so much more.

“What is upcoming for Aspen is to use it to post common curriculums by department, as well as common assessments. Right now teachers email back and forth ideas, projects, tests, etc. Starting next year, we will be able to post these items to Aspen and then everyone in the district can access them. I think it will reduce time spent searching and emailing for things and improve upper level math in our department because more will be available to us; things that we didn’t realize were out there,” said Brooks.

Although Aspen has great qualities that were previously unavailable through the old grade software AHS used, there are a few suggestions that would make it even better.

“They should make an app. Having to use the browser on my phone when I don’t have access to a computer can be annoying, especially because if I don’t have great service it’s really slow,” said AHS freshman David Jeffery.

Teachers also weighed in on Aspen.

“Aspen hasn’t given us the next logical step. If parents and students can view grades and check on missing assignments, then why do we still have traditional parent conferences? That’s my only gripe. If there was a problem, then the student can see the teacher after class or the parent can send an email. Individual conferences could be made if they were needed, but to block off three nights a year for this seems pretty pointless at this point,” said Brooks.

“Swapping over from grade books to online grading has had its share of issues, but each year, more and more advantages are offered. My students want to know what their grades are as soon as possible and I find it extremely convenient to input them on a daily basis,” said journalism teacher Ms. Adeline Bee.

Species Loss

 

Scimitar-horned Oryx at a reserve in England (Screenshot by/Amanda Hansen)

Scimitar-horned Oryx at a reserve in England (Screenshot by/Amanda Hansen)

By: Amanda Hansen

Extinction is not new. Animals experienced this long before human interference as part of natural cycles. Mass extinctions occurred thousands of years ago. More recently, humans have been the cause of smaller extinctions, wiping out one or two species in an area at a time.

When extinction occurs, the species, family or other large group, have no more living members. “Family” refers to the scientific classification of all living things on the planet. Organisms in the same family would have evolved from the same ancestors and share similar characteristics.

When extinction is discussed, the topic is most often a specific species, like the Carolina Parakeet that went extinct in 1910.

Then there is the threat of extinction. Species in this classification are considered endangered, extinct in the wild, or threatened.

“It’s important to prevent extinction so we can keep the cows alive and make yummy hamburgers,” said Attleboro High School (AHS) freshman David Jeffery.

Some species are classified as being extinct in the wild. This means wild populations have died out, but there are still living members in zoos, private collections or preserves. An example of this is the Scimitar-horned Oryx, which is classified as being extinct in the wild with live members in zoos and safari parks in many countries.

“If we broaden the spectrum and see species as not just animals but as all organic life, it’s extremely important. The entire ecosystem is fragile. If you think about the animals we rely on for food going extinct, then it becomes a problem in most people’s eyes. It can only get to the point where it’s too late to fix the damage if we allow it to. If you won’t save animals for morality, save them to save yourselves,” said AHS senior Andria Rodrigues.

Conservation classifications and abbreviations, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) include extinct (EX), extinct in the wild (EW), critically endangered (CE), endangered (EN), vulnerable (VU), near threatened (NT) and least concern (LC).

WWF is an organization that works on a global level to protect animals from illegal hunting, extinction, habitat loss and anything that could possibly danger the species survival and well-being. It was formed on April 29, 1961 in Morges, Switzerland.

Based on documents starting in 1500 A.D., there have been 940 species that have become extinct around the world. The Encyclopedia of Earth Organization (EoE) reports that there are four major causes of human-induced extinction.

“I actually thought the number was significantly higher than 1,000; especially considering the damage we do to the Amazon where hundreds [of species] may be found on one single tree species,” said AHS science teacher Mrs. Deanna Wells-Scott.

EoE is an electronic reference about the earth, its natural environments and their interaction with society. It is a free, expert-reviewed collection of content authored by scholars, educators, professionals, practitioners, and others experts who collaborate and review each other’s work.

The largest contributor to species extinction, according to EoE, is human induced habitat destruction, which is attributed to approximately 80 percent of all extinctions. Most of this destruction is due to natural habitat conversion for the intended use of agriculture or logging.

“I think people need to be smarter about how our environmental resources are used. Certain things we take from our environment we are capable of putting back, we just aren’t making the effort to do so and that affects other animals,” said AHS senior Alexandria Astrofsky.

Over exploitation is another factor. Humans worldwide use natural resources, but it reaches a point where those resources are being exploited. The most common reason for exploitation is over-hunting a species for purposes of food, medicine, trophies, clothing, or souvenirs.

Pollution is another significant factor. Toxins are introduced into the environment, whether it’s in the air, soil or water. Chemical toxins could inhibit metabolic functions of organisms, causing functional impairments or death.

If the population of one species decreases considerably, the ecosystem and food chain as a whole are affected. Predators to that species have less food and “prey of that species” have fewer individuals hunting them. This can cause large-scale population changes across the entire food chain of that ecosystem.

“The consequences of a species going extinct all depends on the species itself and how many levels of organisms are affected.  If a sloth goes extinct in the rain forest, it directly affects the moths that eat its dung, the trees it fertilizes and the moss that grows on its fur,” said Wells-Scott.

The final key cause of extinction is the introduction of alien species into an ecosystem. Humans, for one reason or another, have introduced new species into different ecosystems where similar species did not exist before. For example, rats, weasels and other mammalian predators were introduced into Australia where they were previously not found and caused population deficiency of the native kiwi bird.

To prevent extinction, preservation is important. Humans need to better protect or preserve habitat areas, such as forests, lakes and rivers. To accomplish this, resources need to be better managed.

“I don’t think deforestation on some level is completely unavoidable. As the human population grows, we’ll need more space, food and wood.  However, if certain steps are taken, the impact can be significantly lessened,” said Wells-Scott.

Humans will always need these resources, but where those resources come from and how they are used is very important when it comes to the impact on the environment.

“Rather than wiping out whole forests, loggers can take trees from multiple areas rather than all of the trees from one area, and then replant two trees to take every new ones place. Rather than rip down forests to make way for houses or malls, abandoned factories and buildings can be demolished so as to reuse land, rather than start from scratch. The materials from the ripped down buildings can be recycled, rather than thrown out,” said Wells-Scott.

When a species goes extinct, it affects the entire ecosystem. Animals in the wild live in balance with the other animals and plants. All animals affect other species and in turn are affected by other species.

Species interactions in a grassland ecosystem (Screenshot by/Amanda Hansen)

Species interactions in a grassland ecosystem (Screenshot by/Amanda Hansen)

Senior Prom Night

OPINION (Wordle by/Taylor McKenna)

OPINION (Wordle by/Taylor McKenna)

By: Amanda Hansen

Senior Prom for the class of 2015 is being held at Lake Pearl Lucianos on April 10 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m, with a ticket cost of $75 per person. Prom, whether it’s in a junior or senior year, is one of the worst things to waste money on.

The tickets are largely overpriced, at $75 for just one night of bad music, bad food, uncomfortable shoes, sweaty people, and lame after parties. In addition, a large number of girls, and some guys, spend $200 to way over $500 on an outfit, shoes, their hair and makeup, jewelry, manicures, corsage, boutonnieres, and even limos. Prom is only a few hours long, yet so much money is spent on it.

Buying a dress or renting a tuxedo is expensive, and although many are very nice, dresses are often only worn once. The high cost coupled with short wear time makes the outfits hardly worth the price. It wouldn’t make sense to buy a new iPhone, make one call, and then never use it again.

It’s not just the cost that makes prom not all that great. For the few weeks leading up to prom, that’s all anyone talks about – whether they’re going or not. They’re either talking about outfits or dates or how much they’re annoyed about everyone talking about it.

In addition to the pre-prom talk, there are the post-prom “horror” stories. Every year there’s stories about what went wrong on prom night. This person spilled that on their dress, that person did this and another ditched their date – there’s always going to be at least a little bit of drama in high school, even at the dances.

Dances shouldn’t have drama. They’re supposed to be fun, enjoyable, all laughs and smiles, but with all the money and effort that is expected to attend the dance, it seems like more hassle than it should be.

Thirty years after high school, it’s doubtful that the thing people would be most thankful for doing in high school was spending hundreds of dollars on their senior prom. It may be fun while it lasts for some, but it just doesn’t seem worth it in the long run. Spending all that money for just one dance? No, thank you.

Importance of Climate Change

Rising CO2 levels compared with rising temperature (Screenshot by/ Amanda Hansen)

Rising CO2 levels compared with rising temperature
(Screenshot by/ Amanda Hansen)

By: Amanda Hansen

Climate change is when the regional or global climate patterns change. Climate is the weather of a place averaged over a period of time, usually 30 years according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

Weather and climate are different, but they are connected. Weather is the day-to-day conditions of the atmosphere, generally the combination of many factors such as temperature, humidity, wind, and visibility. Weather patterns over time make up the climate of an area.

Global warming is when the average temperature of the earth rises, while climate change is when the climate of an area changes, whether it’s warmer or colder. The terms “global warming” and “climate change” tend to be used interchangeably.

“At the moment we have melting glacier ice, that’s probably one of the biggest indicators, and we have varying changes in the Atlantic currents both by the velocity of the water and we have changes in depth of water at certain temperatures, which also helps change the current. Those are evidence that climate change is occurring,” said AHS environmental science teacher Mrs. Angela Larson.

Currently, the earth is warming. The average temperature of the globe has risen by 0.85 degrees Celsius since 1880, as reported by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). Experts believe that if the average temperature rises by more than 4 degrees Celsius, it will result in major repercussions.

“Global warming is a serious issue because in addition to the species that have already gone extinct, there will be more to follow. Where will our children and grandchildren go when the coasts are all flooded, especially with the population growing? Where will we rebuild our power plants when they’re all underwater? What about the freshwater that will be flooded with salt water and the salty oceans that will be too polluted to retain the life that was once there?” said Attleboro High School (AHS) senior Andria Rodrigues.

The National Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC) reports that global warming is caused by air pollutants known as greenhouse gases that trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere, preventing it from escaping into space. They also report that the U.S. is the leading contributor of these gases, producing about four billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas annually.

These gas products are results of burning fossil fuels to power factories, oil for heating, and gasoline to power cars and other engines. The American Institute of Physics (AIP) reports that these emissions started to increase during the industrial revolution and rose dramatically in the years following.

“I think proof of human induced climate change is around us. The melting of the polar ice caps and carbon emissions are the biggest signs,” said AHS senior Eric Barrese.

The World Bank agrees with UCAR’s claim that a four degree Celsius average temperature increase would cause trouble for humans.

They report that rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would cause the oceans to absorb more CO2 than in previous years, making the oceans more acidic. Calcium based organisms such as coral reefs cannot survive in acidic environments. The increased acidity would cause the reefs to stop growing, and eventually dissolve. This would have profound effects on areas that rely on reefs for food, tourism and shoreline protection, as well as the fish that rely on reefs for shelter and food.

“I think it’s both naturally and human induced, we are naturally going to be going into an up shift but it’s being exacerbated by the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The amount of CO2 is helping to trap heat, kind of like a blanket, it holds radiant energy down,” said Larson.

Heat waves would also increase in both severity and frequency. In 2003, a heat wave scorched Europe, and according to New Scientist, it was caused by human-induced global warming. The wave caused 14,802 deaths in France alone, with an additional 20,000 from seven other European countries with available data.

“Since reports are not available for all European countries, the total heat death toll for the continent is likely to be substantially larger,” said the Earth Policy Institute (EPI) in an Oct. 2003 report on the event.

An EPI report released in Sept. 2012 states that drought and heat caused by global warming had a profound effect on crop yields in the U.S. Corn yields, they report, were down by 25 percent in 2012, compared to 2009 corn yields. They predict that as years go on, global warming will cause lower and lower crop yields.

There are many other predictions from multiple agencies and environmental groups. Generally, the predictions follow the same path. Drought, heat waves, rising sea levels, increased ocean acidification, food and water shortages, electricity shortages, extreme weather and many other bleak events are predicted for the future.

Some students couldn’t guess at when things would reach an ultimate tipping point. “I can’t say how long it’ll be until everything dies or nature decides to throw a bunch of hurricanes at us [because of global warming], but I know I’d rather not wait around to find out,” said AHS senior Kayla Twomey.

“I can’t say when things will get out of hand. I’ve sort of been living in a bubble, I don’t know much about climate change,” said AHS freshman Haleigh Robinson.

Others made a prediction. “I believe that in 30 years we’ll start seeing catastrophic life-threatening changes, if you wouldn’t consider what’s happening already life-threatening,” said Rodrigues.

“We get the occasional severe storm or flood, but I don’t think we’ll see frequent devastating events for at least 100 years,” said AHS senior Avianna Cascio.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers an interactive online guide to learn more about climate change and it’s affects on the planet and humans.

Domestic Abuse

Women Thrive Worldwide Violence Against Women page (Screenshot by/Amanda Hansen)

Women Thrive Worldwide Violence Against Women page
(Screenshot by/Amanda Hansen)

By: Amanda Hansen

Domestic abuse, as defined on the Safe Horizon statistics page, is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation. This behavior doesn’t necessarily have to be physical abuse or violence. Examples of non-violent abusive behavior toward the victim include controlling the money, who is acceptable to visit or talk to, threatening to hurt themselves, children, or pets, the destruction of property, and harming others as a “warning” of what “could” happen.

“Domestic abuse is emotional or physical abuse or sometimes things that cause distress to one or more victims, that are dependent on the power dynamic among everyone involved,” said Attleboro High School (AHS) senior Eric Barrese.

Safe Horizon is the nation’s largest victim assistance organization. They work with victims of rape, domestic and child abuse, human trafficking and much more. Their website contains many helpful links and information, including what is considered abuse.

“I would define domestic abuse as repetitive verbal or physical behavior by one person, often in marriage or cohabitation, that makes another feel in danger, threatened and/or inferior,” said AHS freshman Haleigh Robinson.

Safe Horizon reports that one in four American women will be victims of domestic violence at some point in their life, and 20 to 50 percent of women worldwide will be victims. In addition, 30 to 60 percent of children who live in homes where domestic violence occurs will also be abused or otherwise neglected.

“I think victims of domestic abuse don’t leave the violent relationship because their abuser might be their only source of financial support,” said AHS senior Avianna Cascio.

According to Safe Horizon, if these children don’t receive help, they are reported to be at greater risk of becoming either a victim or offender. This is because when children aren’t told a behavior is wrong, they tend to normalize it.

Those who are at the highest risk to be victims are women ages 16 to 24, according to the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF). According to Women Thrive Worldwide (WTW), 60 percent of women whose first sexual experience was forced will go on to experience further violence.

WTW is an organization that works to help women and girls worldwide. They aim to stop poverty, hunger, violence, and inequality against women.

A Huffington Post article posted on Oct. 2014 reports that domestic abuse is a crime against women, with 85 percent of victims being female. Of those women, 40 to 50 percent will be physically injured in a domestic assault, but only one in five will seek medical treatment for their injuries.

That same article and FMF both report that most abusers are male, and most victims are female, however neither source provides an explanation as to why.

“I think most abusers are male and most victims are female because men are often taught from a young age that masculinity is superior. I believe that’s the same reason why we haven’t had a female president,” said Robinson.

Although no one is sure why domestic violence occurs in the first place, it’s important to stop the cycle of abuse. Generally, boys who are abused or witness abuse as children tend to grow up to be an abuser, and the cycle of abuse repeats.

“I believe, above all, domestic abuse occurs because we let it happen. I also think it has a lot to do with traditional gender roles and the preservation of power within these roles,” said Barrese.

Youth programs work to break this cycle. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that youth programs that teach young people problem solving, communication skills, and that promote respectful and healthy behaviors are at the frontline of breaking the cycle.

“I believe that the best way to prevent domestic violence is to start teaching gender roles, sexuality, gender, and violence among these aspects at an early age,” said Barrese.

If the violence can’t be prevented, it’s essential to stop it. To seek help for domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.

Gun Control

2014 gun law state score card by the LCPGV (Screenshot by/ Amanda Hansen)

2014 gun law state score card by the LCPGV
(Screenshot by/ Amanda Hansen)

By: Amanda Hansen

Gun control is a topic that has long been debated. Many discussions boil down to one question: Is it more important to protect a citizen’s right to own firearms OR to protect civilians from gun violence?

“Protecting citizens from gun related violence is more important. Life is a precious thing, and the fact that it could easily be taken by someone as ignorant as a person with a gun in a drunken Saturday night rage because they think they have the right is not alright to me,” said Attleboro High School (AHS) senior Alex Astrofsky.

“I think both are equally important,” said AHS junior Joshua (Josh) Childs.

Federal gun laws create nation-wide standards for gun control while allowing individual states to make more restrictive laws. Gun laws regulate many different things, such as who can purchase a gun, protocols for legal purchase, where guns can be carried, and what type of guns civilians can own. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (LCPGV) has a detailed online data base of these federal laws, as well as a search engine to find specific laws on a state-to-state basis.

Gun laws are generally lengthy documents written in legalese, the formal and technical language of legal documents that is often hard to understand for the layman. These laws change from state to state and vary in how restrictive they are. The LCPGV created a 2014 gun laws scorecard that ranks each state based on their gun safety laws of 2014.

Massachusetts was given an A- for their gun laws, ranking sixth in the country and ranks fiftieth for gun deaths, meaning it has less gun-related deaths than all other states.

In 2014 Mass. strengthened gun laws in two ways. First, a law enabling law enforcement to object when dangerous people apply for “long” gun permits (Class B) and requiring firearms sellers to check the validity of a buyer’s license in real time was passed.

In Mass., a firearms license is required to own and purchase firearms. These licenses are issued by municipal police agencies. The Attleboro Police Department website provides a printable “license to carry (LTC) and firearms identification card (FID) application form” that also outlines the requirements.

Secondly, by required reporting of mental health records. These records are used to determine if a person would be potentially dangerous while in possession of a firearm.

“It’s a bit of a violation of privacy but I think that if someone may be dangerous to other people, then it is the right choice. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You need to be careful when giving someone something that could kill people,” said AHS junior Keegan Douglass.

Others didn’t agree with Douglass. “I don’t believe it’s a violation of privacy. When it comes to public safety it’s important to check everything, especially when it comes to who can and can’t own a firearm. Mental health is very emotional and difficult to talk about but it’s not discrimination. Public safety outweighs privacy,” said AHS criminal law teacher Mr. Robert Westwater.

Another law Mass. has in place prohibits those convicted of domestic abuse from possessing or purchasing a firearm or ammunition. Those with domestic abuse related restraining orders are also prohibited.

“Domestic abuse is one of the most distrustful acts one can commit. And with a history of that particular crime, one can never know if they will do it again. Adding a firearm to the already dangerous situation only exacerbates it and makes it even more dangerous,” said AHS senior Tony Bollino.

Bollino makes a valid point. The LCPGV statistics page reports that domestic violence incidents involving firearms are 12 times more likely to result in death than those involving any other type of weapon or bodily force. In addition, abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm.

The Commonwealth does a lot of things to ensure gun safety. This includes prohibiting the sale of firearms that are not on the approved firearms roster, for example, assault weapons and any guns capable of holding more than 10 rounds in a magazine or other feeding device. In order for a gun to be approved for this roster it must pass a series of tests performed by state-approved independent testing laboratories.

These tests are in accordance with the statutory handgun testing provisions outlined in Mass. General Law (M.G.L.) chapter 140 section 123.

One point argued when it comes to gun control is an American’s right to bear arms granted by the second amendment. In a 2008 case, District of Columbia vs. Heller, the Supreme Court ruled that the second amendment protects a responsible and law-abiding gun owner’s right to possess a handgun in the home for self defense. This ruling overturned a previous ruling that the second amendment was tied to state militia service.

The previous ruling had been referenced by lower federal and state courts for nearly 70 years. Washington, D.C. enforced a handgun ban, and required all firearms to be unloaded, disassembled, or stored with a locking device, and did not make exceptions for weapons of self defense.

“I believe that the responsibility should fall on the gun owner. They should have a right to own a gun for self defense, but if they don’t store it properly and someone gets hurt, then they should be held responsible,” said Westwater.

States like Mass. improved their gun laws with more restrictions and better background checks, but states like Texas weakened their gun laws by lessening safety training requirements. Gun laws are important because there is gun violence. By weakening gun laws in any state, it becomes easier for irresponsible gun owners to legally obtain guns.