Student arrested after bringing gun to Aurora high school
City continually faces issue of gun violence
After a student was arrested for bringing a handgun into Smoky Hill High School on Sept. 19, the Aurora community is yet again at a loss for how to cope with gun violence incidents among young adults.
A letter sent to school district parents stated, “A parent called the school to report that a student was potentially in possession of a gun at Smoky Hill High School,” which led to the arrest.
Aurora, Colorado is a national pit stop for politicians, such as Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren, both who advocated for gun control, due to the 2012 theatre shooting that killed 12. Even though the massacre took place over seven years ago, it has been in the news yet again over director Todd Phillips’ Joker, whose titular character was used as a costume by a mass murderer as he carried out the shooting in 2012.
The Century 16 theatre is just one of the Aurora venues that will not be showing the film. Family members of the victims killed in the shooting wrote letters to Hollywood studios begging them not to distribute Joker to theaters for fear of copy-cat massacres.
However, Aurora has deeper issues than its notoriety as a name on the list of cities affected by mass gun violence. Its average crime rate, which as of 2017 is 1.3 times higher than the national average, is steadily rising. It ranks number 39 of Colorado’s safest cities, with more than 2,000 violent crimes committed this year alone.
“It makes me wonder how unsafe a student had to feel to go to such extreme measures to protect himself,” a teacher from the Cherry Creek School District said. “We’ve failed these kids in every way.”
Grandview High School and Cherokee Trail High School have received dozens of threats in the past five years alone, and aside from the entire district shutting down last year due to a state-wide shooting scare, no action has ever been taken to ensure the students’ safety.
“The district is more concerned with keeping up attendance and test scores,” a district employee said.
Even without the threat of school shootings hanging over students’ heads, there have been other instances of gun violence within Aurora township.
Last spring, Cherokee Trail senior Lloyd Chavez was murdered outside of his home by a fellow student over a vape pen. The incident sparked a wave of panic over the close-knit community, inciting verbal provocation and tensions among students.
“Teachers were telling us ‘stay alive’ instead of ‘have a good summer,’” a Cherokee Trail student remarked.
At Grandview High School, two students committed suicide within a few days of each other over summer break.
“These kids are hardly kids anymore. They have peers that have been murdered or committed suicide and it adds so much stress to their lives,” a district teacher said. “We have these long conversations about our community and to me it seems like the biggest deal ever, but to them, they just take it all in.”