The Firefighter Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund Website

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Erin Joyce:
2013 Winner
FDNY Office of Battalion 9

Erin Joyce

Winning Essay

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza killed his mother, then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School and fatally shot 20 children and 6 educators. The incident was the second deadliest school shooting in United States history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. Our country has approximately 32,300 deaths each year and 69,000 injuries due to guns. It is hard for me to believe that organizations, such as The National Rifle Association, are still suggesting there is little need for gun control legislation. December 14, 2012 is now a date counted as a statistic in the history of mass attacks in the United States. Twenty children are no longer here to make a difference in this world. The surviving children will have to live with the horrors they saw on that day. To think that the NRA wants to put more guns around children in the form of armed security guards, especially in an Elementary School, should be carefully considered.

December 15, 1791, less than 10 years after the Revolutionary War ceased, a new nation ratified the 2nd amendment to the Constitution, along with 9 others that, altogether, are referred to as The Bill of Rights. The United States not only had to defend itself against other countries, but must also defend itself against itself. The Second Amendment was written to ensure “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” This Militia, or the common armed people, should not be confused with a formal United States armed force. They were given the power required to bear arms and defend the new nation when called upon by their new government. They, the people, should be able to defend themselves and property, not only against each other but if need be against their own government. We, the people, were in charge and free. I believe they held this in such high regard that only Freedom of speech, a voice, the right to verbally protest against one’s government freely, was worth more than the personal liberty to defend oneself and country. The second amendment, a simple practical one sentence statement resonates 222 years later, strong as ever, free as ever, protecting an ever changing country and guiding a nation to its future.

My strongest concern with gun control or limits is the need to discuss and debate the issue of public safety. When the Constitution was scripted, the modern weapons we have today were not accounted for. The Bill of Rights states that citizens have these freedoms and rights granted upon them. Part of being an American is having that liberty and independence to do what you please. However, just as there is a limit on the First Amendment, I feel there should be restrictions, or limits on the Second as well. The First Amendment is regulated by laws and legislation that restricts anyone from yelling “Fire” falsely in an open theater because of the panic it could create endangering occupants. This protects the “mass public”, as opposed to the right of the individual to exercise his freedom of speech by yelling “Fire!” The Second Amendment should also have restrictions in the same way as the 1st Amendment. Restrictions should not be considered infringement of their rights, but as a protection of all people.

When further analyzing the Second Amendment, it can be said that the “militia” to a degree, does not exist anymore. The framers were worried government should never become too large. The government should never infringe on the people to keep and bear arms, but if it did, the militia was there to put government back in its place. Formal Government Armies now exist through the United States Armed Forces and the States’ National Guards. Through restrictions placed on gun sales and illegal online sales, the average American citizen should not be allowed to own high powered assault weapons. Pro-gun advocates are fighting for their right to own guns to protect themselves in the case of self-defense. I agree they should have a right to bear arms for self defense, but a cap should be placed to prevent them from obtaining military type weapons. Military weapons were designed to kill large numbers and do not belong in the hands of the average American to protect oneself. Lanza used a semi-automatic .223-caliber Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle. The gun holds a magazine of 30 rounds. Although, this gun belonged to his mother legally, Lanza used this semi-automatic rifle, not to protect, but to destroy. The NRA is committed to pushing unrestricted civilian access to weapons that belong on the battlefield. Government must protect the general public by withholding these military-type guns.

Although these are merely my personal opinions, the government must take action to change the ways in which guns are obtained. They need to make sure gun-sales are occurring with a reliable background check. Today, 40% of gun sales in the United States are through private sales that don’t undergo background checks. The federal and state governments must take a stand on the gun issue in the United States, this should be done slowly, not rushed, to guarantee a “real”, meaningful result with proper gun regulation. The tragedy in Newtown has changed my view on gun ownership. Before, I believed that guns protected citizens in cases of self-defense and that people should be allowed to own guns. After Newtown, I don’t think all types of guns are necessary for one’s defense. As a senior in high school, soon to be a college freshman, and a future educator, I have the fear that someone will enter my school and begin shooting in the place that I find a safe haven. It is terrible to be afraid and not comfortable going to school each day. Those Newtown elementary school students will forever live with that fear the rest of their lives. I worry after Columbine and Virginia Tech, and fear what will happen next. For the sake of those innocent, twenty-six, and numerous other victims of senseless shootings, guns should be more closely monitored, laws should be enforced, and people should live each day feeling safe and secure in the country that guarantees those liberties.

 

Biography

We would like to wish Erin Joyce the best of luck moving on to University of Delaware. Congratulations!

My name is Erin Joyce, and I want to thank you for selecting me as a recipient of the Christopher Santora Scholarship. I am currently a senior at Northport High School and will be attending the University of Delaware in the fall, majoring in Elementary Education with a concentration in Special Education. I am 17 years old and live in Northport with my mom, dad and my brother, Jack. My father is a Battalion Chief in the 9th Battalion in the FDNY. My mother teaches second grade at an elementary school on Long Island.

I have been involved with many clubs and sports throughout my high school career. I have been on varsity softball since my freshman year of high school and was nominated captain for the second year in a row. This leadership position has proven very important in developing my character over the last two years. I have been an active member of the Future Educators Association for four years assisting children in my neighborhood in cooking classes and reading time after school hours. I am a member of the Northport High School choir and have sung at many different venues, including a musical festival at Six Flags in New Jersey. I am a member of Our Town 2000, a club that raises money to give back to our community. I am a member of the National Honor Society and also work part time at a local Danish bakery. For six years I played travel softball, traveling each weekend to a different state to compete against the best teams in the east. Travel ball forced me to balance my time, school work and social life. It also gave me the opportunity to play competitively and meet friends from other towns.

Since elementary school I have been blessed to have had teachers that believed in me. They have had an impact on my life, motivating me and wanting me to always be better. These educators are the reason I am choosing to pursue this career. I want to follow in the footsteps of the great teachers I had. I hope to graduate with enough knowledge and experience to make a difference in a child’s life as they did in mine. I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Santora for providing me with this opportunity by awarding me with this special scholarship and my family for their continued love, support, and guidance.

 

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