The True Epidemic

Saint Louis school districts faced a true tragedy on October 25, 2022, when a former student of Central Visual and Performing Arts High School walked into school armed with a gun, killing both a fifteen-year-old student and a staff member and leaving many injured and traumatized. Since this school shooting, various threats have been made against other schools in the county. St. Louis government members have been in debates for weeks discussing what measures need to be taken to prevent events like these from recurring.


The second amendment comes into play when dealing with events and threats like these. Americans have the right to bear arms for protection, but this amendment has caused turmoil with school shootings. At eighteen, Americans have full discretionary power to handle firearms, but gun ownership does come with a long list of requirements. These are some of the Eligibility Requirements that a person seeking ownership of a gun needs: they must be 18 years of age, an American citizen, never charged with a domestic violence crime, not be a fugitive of justice, be a patient of a mental institution or rehab. Once the citizen’s criminal background has been checked and cleared, the citizen has every legal right to own a firearm and is given a permit. To many, these requirements seem fair and ensure that nothing bad could come out of this ownership, but guns have still gotten into the possession of people with malicious intent. 


The Guardian reports: “A police statement obtained by St. Louis TV station KMOV records that officers took the view the teenager was lawfully permitted to possess the weapon despite substantial evidence of troubling behavior. His family told police they had arranged for the teen to be treated for mental health issues, had put him on medication, and had even overseen a stay in a mental health institution” (St Louis school shooting suspect had gun confiscated days before attack | Missouri | The Guardian). 


After the suspect was found, St. Louis police came to his house to begin the investigation and take his gun into possession. The former Central Visual and performing arts student owned an AR-15 rifle that he used during the shooting. While the law says that citizens with a history of institutionalized mental illness do not have the right to bear firearms, this former student was permitted to own this gun. Police came to the suspect’s house intending to take him and the gun into custody, but this visit did not end with possessing his firearm since he had the legal right to own it, even though he used it for violent intentions. 


Micheal Sack, Saint Louis police officer said the family “made every effort that they felt that they reasonably could. I think that’s why the mother is so heartbroken over the families that paid for his episode” (St Louis school shooting suspect had gun confiscated days before attack | Missouri | The Guardian). 


Even though the suspect remains unknown and it is not explicitly stated if he is in custody, it was reported that the perpetrator has no criminal history, hence why he was given the permit. His mother was devastated to hear he is responsible for this tragic event. 


Since October 25th, various debates among government officials in Saint Louis County have been continuing over gun laws. Visual and Performing arts staff members have shared their feelings towards Missouri gun regulations, saying they are very broad.  Some regulations did not prevent this young man from committing such a heinous crime or even let the law do what is just and take him into custody. 


Since this shooting, Saint Louis has faced more tragedy with gun violence at Marquette High School in Chesterfield, MO. On November 18th, Marquette students were required to evacuate the building. They were dismissed early after a student stated on social media that they would bomb and shoot up the school. This was said the previous day (the 17th), and students were sent home again. Since the 18th, the suspect has been identified, and the proper measures were taken. Saint Louis County police department states that their close relationship with the Rockwood School District made it possible to take these measures quickly.


“Friday, several students told staff they were sent an image that said Thursday’s threat ‘wasn’t a joke’ and that an attacker was at the school with “something I can aim with while you run in fear,” according to a message sent to parents. Friday’s threat, according to Rockwood School District officials, gave a specific classroom number and said the attack would begin at noon”  ( 

High school students in the Saint Louis Area have lived in fear for the past month due to these tragedies. Saint Louis government officials will continue to debate the broadness of the gun laws in Missouri. They want to come to a fair but just conclusion to ensure the safety of adolescents and citizens across the county.