CoastLine: Hoggard High School Students, Public School Parent On Guns And School Safety

Mar 9, 2018

A 19-year-old gunman killed 17 people with an AR-15 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida about three weeks ago. 

The United States has had to deal with its share of school shootings.  But it was after this February 14th tragedy that the conversation around gun rights, gun control, and how those issues impact American kids fundamentally shifted.  On Wednesday, Florida passed a bill that raises the legal age for buying a firearm from 18 to 21, institutes a three-day waiting period for most weapons, bans bump stocks, and arms school employees.   There’s also funding for mental health services and more school security.   No word yet on whether Governor Rick Scott will sign the bill.

We’ve seen the students from that Florida high school making the rounds on news networks insisting on stricter gun control.  A majority of Republican lawmakers in tight congressional races are changing their message on guns, expressing new support for restrictions, according to a Reuters review of the candidates’ public statements.

New Hanover County officials recently held a school safety round table – which included members of law enforcement, public school and officials.  The StarNews reported the big takeaway related to mental health awareness, more resources for mental health and perhaps training cafeteria workers and custodians to spot signs of mental illness.

Is school safety a conversation about security protocols, gun control, gun rights?  Mental illness? 

On this edition of CoastLine, we hear from four people who are members of the community and  connected to New Hanover County Public Schools – one parent and three high school students.  Our goal is to understand how they’re thinking and talking about gun rights in America, whether they feel their schools are safe, and what, if anything needs to change. 


Tia Johnson, Senior, Hoggard High School, Student Body President

Cooper Whitehead, Senior, Hoggard High School, International Baccalaureate Program

Kelly Sechrist, Parent of three public school students

Julian Fisher, Senior, Hoggard High School, born in Austria, International Baccalaureate Program, Youth In Government