Students advocate for gun control after local high school shooting


Graphic by Evelyn Shue

Students across the county are calling for stricter gun control laws after the shooting at Magruder High School.

Samiksha Mahashetty, Social Justice Writer

On Friday, Jan. 21, senior Steven Alston Jr. shot sophomore DeAndre Thomas at Colonel Zadok Magruder High School, leading to a four-hour lock down. Thomas underwent surgery and was in critical condition for multiple weeks after the incident.

Currently, 17-year old Alston is being held without bond and is being charged as an adult. Montgomery County police charged him with attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, possession of a dangerous weapon on school property, and possession of a firearm by a minor. 

On the day of the incident, the two students had met in a school bathroom due to an ongoing conflict. Alston, knowing that there would be a dispute in the bathroom, had bought the 9mm three-part unserialized firearm, a “ghost gun”, online. 

In the past year alone, five ghost guns have been found at or near MCPS schools. According to Baltimore City Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, ghost gun seizures have increased about 300 percent in the last year. Ghost guns are exempt from federal regulation, which makes it much easier for people to obtain them. 

Maryland senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen have demanded that President Biden take immediate action on eliminating the threat of unserialized firearms.

On their return to the school after the incident, Magruder students were provided with mental health support. “The county let us have a half-day and we had therapy dogs coming in,” a junior at Magruder said. “The first day especially there were so many therapists and psychologists on hand, and they all left numbers and emails for us.”

Still, many students are more concerned on the prevention of the issue than the aftermath support. The multiple gun-related incidents this past year, including the shooting at Oxford High School, has contributed to this growing activism and calls for gun control.

“There was a time and place for gun control to take place,” the Magruder student said. “But the government and the supporters of non-gun control have already decided that having guns is worth it over student lives.”

According to a nationwide poll by Hamilton, 85% of high school students support stricter gun control laws.