Deadly School Shooting in California: The New Normal

Two students sit by a memorial placed in front of Saugus High School on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

A student at a high school in Santa Clarita, California shot five of his peers, killing two. The student, later identified Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow by the police, at Santa Clarita’s Saugus High School shot and killed himself shortly after. 


The November 14 attack was the 11th known school shooting of 2019, according to the New York Times. In 2018, there were 24 school shootings where at least one person was injured or killed. These figures outpace the number of school shootings in many other nations, including Germany, Israel, Australia, and Thailand. School shootings are rare or non-occurring in these nations and many others around the world, leaving the U.S. as the nation with the most yearly school shootings on earth.  


When Aliza Fine, a junior, first heard about the shooting, she noticed one emotion that did not accompany the sadness and anger that news of America’s other school shootings has sparked: surprise.


 “When I first found out about the California shooting, I heard it on the radio and I said ‘Wait, what the hell? Another one?’ The person next to me just shrugged and said ‘yeah.’ I realized then just how desensitized we have become to these awful acts of violence,” Fine said.


To many American students, school shootings have almost become a part of their lives. Students feel less shocked than before from past instances: school shootings have become the new normal.


At Saugus High School, the attack was stopped within 16 seconds. The student, though, took three lives, including his own, in that short span of time. 


Shauna Orandi, a student at Saugus High School, heard the gunshots and was scared for her life. “My worst nightmare actually came true,” she said. “This is it. I’m gonna die.”


In order to calm the students from the fears of school shootings, many schools across the country, including our own, have taken efforts to increase security. These measures include the IDs all students are required to wear, as well as the increased presence of security guards inside the school.


“What really stuck out to me about this shooting was that the person who opened fire was a student at the school,” Fine said. “This teenager was supposed to be there. He was a student that no one thought would ever do something like what he did.”


Due to this sentiment, some student activists believe that the only way to end gun violence in schools is to place further restrictions on guns. After the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, in which 17 people were killed, some survivors announced a nationwide, student-led protest against gun violence. These protests called for stronger background checks on guns, as well as many additional gun control laws. 


On the other side of the political spectrum, school-safety advocates have called for teachers to be armed in case a school shooter was to attack. In 2018, President Trump supported this idea: “If you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly.”


Bills to increase gun control in the U.S. were approved by the House of Representatives in February of 2019. The bills have been stalled in the Senate, where a majority of lawmakers disagree with the restrictions in the legislation.


Although there is disagreement among Americans on how the crisis school shootings can be ended, our country is united in its desire to protect its students. Scott Wilk, a state senator representing Santa Clarita, expressed his hope to solve the school shooting epidemic dubbed “uniquely American.”


“It is just indescribable,” he said. “This has got to stop. It can’t be the new normal.”