The Firefighter Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund Website

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Laura Kearns:
2013 Winner
FDNY Ladder 56

Laura Kearns

Winning Essay

Before December 20, 2013 it was assumed that young children could safely attend their school without any fear. Prior to July 20, 2013, families could have a fun night out and go to a movie. Today the world is a different place. The Sandy Hook and the Colorado movie theater shootings are two of many terrible acts of gun violence that have occurred in America in that past year. They have increased the amount of fear in America and decreased the feelings of security. There are too many continuous acts of gun violence in the United States due to weapons being easily accessible therefore a stand must be taken.

One unique characteristic of the United States is that it gives all citizens the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” A specific right is the right to “keep and bear arms”, which is essential to keeping America what it has become over many years. However, when the Constitution was first created, times were quite different. The founding fathers would not be able to fathom mass murders occurring, especially ones in which innocent children are killed. It is impossible to comprehend what the parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School felt when they received the call on December 20th. When a tragic event such as the Newtown school shooting happens, it is hard to not feel the need to make a change in our country’s gun policy.

When the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed in 1791, there was a specific purpose. At this point in history, the United States was still being formed into the country it has become. This was just the beginning of our country. Therefore, there was not quite an organized military to defend the nation. Instead, citizens formed militias to fight for the country when necessary. In order for these militias to be successful, it was essential that all citizens be allowed to own guns and other weapons. As a result, the Second Amendment was ratified and gave U.S. citizens the right to “keep and bear arms.” Today the U.S. is one of the most developed nations with one of the greatest militaries in the world. Thereofre, militias are no longer necessary. This introduces a problem with the freedom of owning weapons that is faced today.

A common misconception is that the current controversy is whether or not citizens should have the right to own weapons. However, this is not the exact situation that is being contemplated. Currently, there is no bill or law trying to completely ban the ownership of guns. In response to the Newtown incident, many people, such as President Obama, are enforcing the idea of making stricter gun control laws. Part of Obama’s plan includes enforcing stronger background checks for those trying to buy a gun, limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, new gun trafficking laws, and increasing access to mental health treatment programs (ABC news 2013). These limitations do not take away the right of Americans, but they impose stricter regulations. Events that occur in today’s society can be frightening and unexpected. Consequently, our country as a whole should take a stand against violence and do whatever needs to be done in order to be proactive without taking away the freedoms of American citizens. To accomplish this, the government must lead the way.

In order to make sure that the people do not lose control of their own freedoms, it is important that the government enforces these ideas just as it would any other law that it is trying to pass. It is crucial for the government to play a major role and set the example for states to limit guns. This means that the government must propose ideas, as Obama has done, and furthermore, explain these proposals clearly. This is where things may fall apart. If the gun limitation proposals are not clearly stated and explained in detail, many citizens and states are likely to get confused about what the actual goals are. If these limitations on gun control are passed, the government cannot stop there. It is essential that the government enforce that each state must follow and maintain the laws. This is because if limitations are going to be made, then they should be consistent for each state. These limitations should be enforced federally rather than different legislations for each state. This is because as of now, the process of buying and owning a gun is different in each state. This makes is easier to buy a gun in some states, which can be dangerous. In this circumstance, it is a necessity that the government evaluates these new limitations closely, if passed.

Although it may seem to contradict what is previously stated, the average citizen should continue to have the right to own a weapon. It is understandable that some people feel more protected with a weapon in case of an emergency. Others feel they should be able to own guns for recreational reasons, such as hunting. According to the Second Amendment, citizens do have the right to own weapons and they should have to follow certain restrictions set by the federal government. For example, there should be limits to the types of weapons and ammunition used. It is unnecessary to allow Americans to own high capacity weapons. There should be exceptions for citizens with specific occupations. The right of a citizen to own a weapon should continue to be preserved by the Second Amendment.

Our nation is continuously evolving and it can be difficult to make sure that the Constitution remains a living document. As the foundation of our country, the Constitution should be applied to today’s standards keeping in mind the original objective of the founders. Everyday more and more innocent people are killed due to gun ownership, and this problem must be addressed. Our right to bear arms should not be taken away, but there must be stricter regulations for Americans purchasing and owning a weapon to make our world a safer place.

Biography

We would like to wish Laura Kearns the best of luck moving on to Endicott College. Congratulations!

My name is Laura Kearns and I am currently 18 years old. In June I will be graduating from Haldane High School in Cold Spring, NY. I have lived in Cold Spring my whole life with my parents, my brother, and my sister. My mother, Eileen Kearns, is a Teaching Assistant and my father, William Kearns is a Fire Lieutenant for Ladder 56 in the Bronx. After I graduate from high school, I am looking forward to continuing my education as a nursing major at Endicott College in Beverly, MA.

My four years of high school were very quick and busy. It was difficult, but I managed to participate in several activities as well as be active in the community. I took part in different activities such as varsity soccer, dance, girl scouts, student government and many other clubs in the school. One thing that I have enjoyed is a mentoring program called Uniquely You. Through girl scouts, a few friends and I meet with 5th graders once a week and help guide them onto the right path as they get older. I have also volunteered at the Hudson Valley Hospital Center, which is when I realized that I want to become a nurse. Originally I wanted to be a physical therapist but while shadowing a PT in the hospital, I took note of what the nurses were doing. I realized that I will enjoy and be more successful with nursing. It is my goal to eventually go to a less fortunate country and help people with limited access to health care.

I would like to thank the Santora family for creating this scholarship. I admire Christopher’s dedication to teaching history, to his community, and to firefighting. Hearing about his life has inspired me to reach for my goal and follow my dream no matter what. I am incredibly honored to be receiving this scholarship under Christopher’s name.

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