Skip to main content

Opinion

My unforgettable trip to Washington D.C., a visit of a lifetime

by Justin Fung

From February 9th to the 15th I took a trip to a place that I have always wanted to visit all my life, and that place would be the nation’s capital Washington DC. DSCN0432.JPG I took this trip with 26 other students and Ms. Ziegler under a program known as the Close Up Foundation.  It is a trip one which I will never forget.  We visited many iconic attractions and met new people and learned a lot while I was there.  Here are some things I did:

The night we arrived and that Sunday morning: I remember arriving at Dulles late in the evening thinking to myself, that “Wow, I can’t believe I’m here.” We as a group did not get to the hotel until midnight eastern time; I was tired, I had a quick bite to eat and went to bed.  I have to admit, it was hard sleeping that first night trying to adapt to the time zones given to the fact we lost part a day. 

When I got up I was quite tired, but I was ready to start a day of exploring D.C.  I recall that Sunday morning being I think 26 degrees outside, and boy it felt like a refrigerator out there.

As we headed out to the Crystal City Metro Station, I was looking forward to riding DC Metrorail.  The Metrorail system is similar to the BART system itself.  As we walked down to the station, I thought to myself, “Man, what a beautiful station.”  It was so beautiful that it made subway stations back where I live look mediocre and maybe less than that.

As our group rode on D.C. Metrorail on our way to the Smithsonian Station, we got off and made our way up and arrived at the National Mall.  It was looked so long length and I was standing there still can’t believe I was even there despite seeing videos and photos of it, finally I was there.  Our Lincoln group and I roamed around; I was walking around with so much happiness free from all the academic stress back home.  There I saw the Capitol Building and the Monument as well as part of the Lincoln Memorial.       

After visiting the National Mall, we spent the remainder of our time visiting to some of the Smithsonian Museums and the National Archives.  Some of the Smithsonian Museums we visited that I remembered were Air and Space, Natural History and American History.  We also visited the National Archives.  When it came to the Smithsonians I like visiting the Air and Space and American History because there were a lot of very cool features and exhibits to see like some of the space craft or replicas of it used during the Arms Race or seeing the American flag that burned during the War of 1812. I couldn’t believe that it was real despite being two centuries old and don’t forget Michelle Obama’s dress as well past dresses worn by previous first ladies at past inaugural balls.

The best place we visited on that day was the National Archives.  This is where most of the old, but genuine, written documents are stored.  Some of the documents include the Constitution, Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights.  These documents were real, and some of which written by our founding fathers.  Boy, I could not believe it; it just felt so real, looking at something that was written three centuries ago. Just looking at it I tried reading the words that were written, but I have to admit, it wasn’t that easy reading it. 

Finally, after going to all of these places for that day we went back to our hotel.  There I saw different students that I guessed were from different states.  The students that we saw were from four other states, which included Arizona, Florida, Minnesota and Louisiana; there was also another group from Pleasanton, CA.  I got back to the hotel room and met two other students; their names were Vincent and Connor and both of them were from Buckeye, Arizona.  It was little nerve wracking at first; it was not bad at all. 

Later on we had dinner and an orientation, but then came the workshops.  There were four individual group workshops, and I was in workshop two.  The first time we met I got to admit I was really nervous and reluctant to speak and that goes same with others, because our group started out shy and nervous to talk.  We had a group coordinator who was kind of like a teacher in some ways. His name was Brock, not Barack.  We introduced ourselves and told where we were from.  After that we did some kind of activity that I don’t recall doing.  We also voted to give a name for our workshop rather than calling our workshop “workshop 2,” we named it “Red White and Brock.” I got to admit at first it didn’t sound good, but eventually it did and I liked it. Despite starting out shy, eventually our group would open up in a way that would reflect to not only that cool group name, but as a working group together, united.

Monday, the first day with the program: Monday was our first day doing group activities.  It was also the first day that we Lincoln students got separated into our assigned workshop.  We had a load of places to visit and activities that we did that day. 

We got on a bus assigned to us and headed off to our first destination which was the Jefferson Memorial.  I remember going there getting that feeling of just being there.  Like most known iconic places in D.C., I could not believe I was there.  I saw the exterior then approached the interior and saw the statue of Thomas Jefferson, and boy was it tall.  I liked looking the rotunda of the Jefferson Memorial.  I also took a few photos both in and out of the memorial.  It was a really beautiful memorial. 

Our group visited two more memorials: that being the FDR and MLK Jr Memorials.  After visiting the Jefferson Memorial, our group went back to our bus and headed to the FDR Memorial.  It was an interesting memorial, and it was also laid out in an interesting way.  It was laid out in chronological order from his first term as president to his very last.  In each section it shows what he did in those terms.  There were also famous quotes posted like, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Another memorial we visited was MLK Jr Memorial that opened two years ago.  When I entered through it had an interesting feeling and then I saw the big carved stone, it was pretty tall and very unique in a way.  I also took a few photos of it, mostly being low angle shots because that stone was so tall.  After visiting the all of the memorials and having lunch we finally headed off to our next activity.  We got back to our bus and headed off to a media seminar to learn more about media and its influence. 

We eventually arrived for the seminar at the Navy Memorial Heritage Center Theater.  The speaker at the memorial was a person named Felicia Sonmez, who writes for the Washington Post.  I don’t remember much about what she talked about, but it had to do a lot about reporting.  She also covered the 2012 presidential elections.  She then took questions from the audience regarding her duties of reporting and what it’s like as well as her experiences. 

After attending the media seminar, we made our way by bus to get a close up view of the White House.  After getting off the bus we, walked to get a good look at the White House, and as we were making our way through we passed by the Treasury Building.  Finally, when we arrived at a section of Pennsylvania Ave NW closed off to motorized vehicles, I was thinking to myself, “I can’t believe I’m seeing this in person when I’ve seen it on TV, seen pictures of it on Google, finally was I able to see it in person.”  While I was there, I took a few photos of the White House; some with me in it as well as some photos of the Treasury Building.  When I sum this experience up, it was just breathtaking and beautiful.  Eventually, I would be able to visit parts of the interior of the White House the following day.     

After getting a good view of the White House and Treasury Building, we made our way to the Smithsonian Native American Museum.  As we made our way to the Smithsonian, we passed by the U.S. Capitol building, man it was just so unbelievable just to see it in person.  We arrived at the Smithsonian Native American Museum.  My first thoughts, I really liked the architecture of both the exterior and interior of the building.  I entered and wandered around different floors and exhibits learning about the different tribes, settlements etc as well as the lifestyles and how they lived and what happened to them.  After our sightseeing was done, my final impressions were though I liked the architecture of the building, and I did learn about something about the heritage, there was really nothing eye-catching about this museum as opposed to other Smithsonians like the Air and Space or American History. I felt bored going there; only the design of the building prevented me from falling asleep, though I’ll admit I was kind of tired. 

After visiting the Smithsonian Native American Museum, we went to the Pentagon City Mall to have Dinner.  I have to admit when we went inside that mall it was so BIG.  I couldn’t believe how large it was.  I spent some time there before it was time to go back to the hotel. 

When we got back to our hotel, we were still not done with our day of visiting and activities.  We had two more things to do which were our workshop and a debate that would take place after our workshop.  When it was time for a second meet with our same group, I was a little nervous not knowing what was in store.  Eventually, I found out about the activity we were going to do.  The topic was about federalism.  We talked about what federalism was, we did an activity of listing all public agencies whether they were federal or state and listed services provided by the government whether the responsibilities were by federal or state or if they were shared, tying back to the main topic of federalism.  We also learned about the advantages and flaws of responsibilities and powers handled by federal or state as well as if they were shared.  Finally we concluded the activity while having gotten know others a little bit more.

The final activity of the night was a debate that was about domestic affairs.  This was basically a liberal vs. a conservative debate.  On one side there was guy named Mark Levine, a liberal who hosts a liberal radio talk show, and on the other hand was Mark Royce, a conservative who is earning his Ph.D. in political science from George Mason University.  The debate range over a whole variety of domestic issues, and questions asked about everything from our economic issues, issues on financial debt and deficits, social issues from abortion to same-sex marriage, immigration and so on.  I asked one question regarding about the controversial voter ID laws.  The debate was energetic and very interesting.  Boy, were the two going at it passionately disagreeing on some of the most significant issues and agreeing at some times, but at least they didn’t go at each other making a whole load of personal attacks.  This debate was very civil and respectful unlike the presidential debates that happened last year.  Overall it was good seeing a good debate.  I enjoyed seeing the thrill without the chaos and personal attacks. 

We had a very long day, but there was more to see and that was just the beginning.  The best was yet to come and the trip only got more interesting, but it was time to rest after a very long Monday. 

Tuesday: The following day was a new day with different things to do.  That was also our day to visit the interior of the White House.  That meant that we would be disconnected temporarily with the program to visit the White House.  However, my day started out what would become nothing but panic and concern for a reason.  Visiting the White house is not easy and getting through Secret Service Security was by no means simple.  You could not bring anything but your wallet and the clothes on your back.  Not only that, you need to have government issued Id if you’re 18, and I am 18.  I left my passport in my backpack and gave it to Ms. Ziegler to store in a safe room not realizing my passport was there until I realized it a few minutes after getting up the next morning, that was when I went into panic mode and because of that, I came close to not going. 

Looks to though I was not going to be able to make it until I caught a lucky break, I was able to find a key after Ms. Ziegler got word from the program leader on how I could access my backpack.  Fortunately I was able to do so, get my passport and race down to Crystal City Station in time to catch the next train that came seconds later. 

We took Metro to Federal Triangle Station while trying to recover from that misery.  We got off and walked to the White House.  This is where the process of going through Secret Service began.  I remembered going through three security checkpoints which involved showing ID, going through metal detectors and so on.  Eventually we made it, and we went inside.  It was interesting because it was a self-guided tour, basically you tour it yourself.  When I first entered I could not believe that I was inside, it was just unbelievable.  Yet the best part of the tour happened seconds later when some of the Lincoln students, me included, saw someone famous and no it was not the president or the first lady, but BO!  Yes, we saw the president’s dog and I could not believe it was just so awesome, and the dog was very cute.  We walked through certain rooms in the White House.  Eventually as we concluded our tour, we came out of the north portico and still can’t believe I just went inside the White House, though of course not in places like the Oval Office, it was just such a great experience, and one I won’t forget. 

After visiting the White House, our Lincoln Group walked the streets of D.C. to the WWII Memorial to meet up with the other students in the program.  From there each of us went to our regular group workshops and went around to see the memorial.  I don’t recall much, but I do remember seeing each state up there and art of people in a certain event. 

After visiting the WWII Memorial, our workshop headed on a path that runs parallel to the Reflecting Pool to the Lincoln Memorial.  As we arrived at the Lincoln Memorial man was it so big.  Like with any other famous icon in D.C. I could not believe I was there and seeing it in person, and it was so beautiful.  From there I went up the steps, boy was there a lot and they were very steep, it was like climbing a mountain to get to the top.  Finally I eventually reached the top of the memorial and there I had a good view of the Reflecting Pool and the Monument.  I also saw the statue of Abraham Lincoln; it was big.  There I took some photos of the statue, his Gettysburg Address on the wall and the exterior of the Memorial; it was just great seeing it in person. 

After visiting the Lincoln Memorial and having lunch, we went to the west front of the U.S. Capitol. There, the students who were in the program, me included, took a panoramic photo that shows the west front of the US Capitol.  After that our workshop, Red White and Brock walked to the house office buildings, we especially visited the Cannon House Building, inside we passed by and went into some of the rooms, but probably the most memorable room we went into was the office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, though we didn’t see her, but we did see her assistants and saw what a representatives office looks like.  As we made our way out of the Cannon Building I did see one House member that I recognized and that was Congressman Darrell Issa passing by, I could not believe I saw him even though I have seen him on TV many times.

After visiting the area around Capitol Hill, we headed off to the United States Institute of Peace Building.  There we had a person who worked there gave us a presentation of what the USIP does.  It’s an organization funded by Congress that finds ways to manage conflicts without the use of violence.  We did a short activity that was kind of satiric to what we were learning about.  The presentation was great; I was more interested in the architecture of the building.  It felt so modern with all the daylight filing the building that I could feel the peaceful atmosphere in the building.

After visiting USIP, we headed off to Dupont Circle.  From there, I walked around that circle.  There were some things I enjoyed while others thing about the circle I did not.  The circle felt like I was in a good functioning city, bringing the feel and sensation of city life.  Even though I enjoyed exploring Dupont Circle, the traffic around me was so clogged.  The circle was so congested with cars I guess anyone could have called it Dysfunction Circle just because the traffic in that circle was anything, but in motion. 

After seeing Dupont Circle, we headed back onto our bus back to the hotel.  I could say it was a really long bus ride because the streets of D.C. were so congested I could not even believe how clogged up it was.  It felt like at times it took forever to get back. 

Finally, we arrived back at our hotel; we had dinner and then went to our nightly activities in our workshop.  For our workshop activities, our topic and activity that I recall was discussing something about healthcare and health care reform, especially the Affordable Care Act.  We discussed the benefits and the flaws. 

After doing our individual workshop activity, it was time for a mock Congress activity.  Our workshop coordinator assigned us to a specific topic.  For me I was assigned to the topic of legalizing marijuana which ties to federalism; should states decide to legalize or should it be left to the federal government to decide.  I was in a group and the group acted as if we were in a Congressional committee debating about whether the power to decide to legalize marijuana should be left to the states or to the federal government.  The mock committee eventually voted on it.

Moments later the whole program participated in the mock congress event.  In the mock congress event, we debated and voted on issues like DOMA or the Defense of Marriage Act, healthcare reform, gun control and the issue of whether the decision to legalize marijuana should be left to the states or to the federal government just like the real US Congress.  It was a good activity to get a feeling of what it is like to be a congressman and what goes on at Capitol Hill.

The Wednesday visit inside the Capitol Building:  The next morning, I got up earlier than usual, because we were going to Capitol Hill.  That day was a day where I could not wear any casual clothing; I got ready and dressed up in a semiformal way.  I headed down and after having breakfast, where we got ready to go.  For most of the day I would be with the other Lincoln Students and Ms. Ziegler, and not be with my workshop until we finished seeing the Capitol.

The Lincoln students and I walked out of the hotel to Crystal City Station where we got on a train on our way to Capitol Hill; we also had to transfer at Gallery Place.  However train ride to our transfer point suffered its first delay.  The trip took way longer than usual because there was a delay at our transfer point when I found out that somebody decided to jump the tracks, it delayed us significantly and would create a big impact throughout that day.  We got to Gallery Place station on single track seeing the out of service train.  Getting off it was crowded as heck and very chaotic.  For a moment we got separated and lost, my brain was panicking, hoping that we weren’t left behind fortunately we were in the right platform and reunited with the others breathing a sigh of relief.  We got on a redline train at got off at Union Station.

As we arrived at Union Station, I could not believe I was there, the interior though it looked like it was being improved, looked so gorgeous and beautiful.  I got the impression thinking I can’t believe I’m here.  I stepped out seeing the exterior and boy was it so beautiful, I wanted to take a few photos, but did not have enough capacity; I wanted to save it for the more iconic places. 

We headed our way to visit the US Supreme Court.  As we arrived I noticed the front was covered with something and clearly it looked like part of it was being renovated.  We entered in and boy I could not believe I was inside and seen it with my eyes in person, even though I’ve seen photos of it on Google.  Everywhere in the interior was just almost nothing but marble.  We saw some small exhibits and other things; however the best part of it all was going into the court room.  Going in it was so beautiful and I could not believe I was in.  From there we asked questions about the room or the court in general, we learned who can come in, when the hearings occur and the settings, where the justices sit and what order how everything is arrange, it was great.  After seeing the court room we headed out the front walking down those steps, I enjoyed every second of it, it just felt so real.  After heading out, we stopped to take a few photos and after that it was time to head to the Hart Senate Office Building.

After leaving the Supreme Court Building, we rushed off to the Hart Senate Building.  We were going there to see assistants that work for senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.  The assistants met with are Lincoln group and the group from Pleasanton that came late.  There they answered questions on issues.  After that we got the chance to take a picture of Senator Boxer, it was so great seeing her; I got to admit she was quite short.

After that he rushed off to have lunch at one of the house buildings, though I forgot which one.  Then we headed to the Capitol Visitor Center.  From there we took a tour of the Capitol Building, it was so beautiful.  The biggest highlight seeing the Rotunda, it was bright, light classic and artistic.  We also toured the old house chamber and saw a plaque of where Abraham Lincoln’s desk used to be.  We also saw where the old Supreme Court room used to be.

After touring the Capitol, we headed off to the cannon House building to visit Nancy Pelosi’s office.  Again Pelosi herself was no there, so we had assistants that we would meet with.  We sat in a different room doing the same that we did at the Hart Senate building.  We talked about particular issues, asking questions, talking about things.  I got to admit though there a certain time where some of us including I fell asleep, for me I tried to keep my eyes open, but it was so hard to do so, fortunately I didn’t fall asleep for too long. 

After going to the Cannon House Building, we quickly headed back to the Capitol to go to see the Senate Gallery.  We also wanted to see the House Gallery in the House Chamber, but the House of Representatives were already done for that day.  So went to the Senate Gallery in the Senate Chamber.  By the time we got there, boy I going to myself “I can’t believe I’m in the senate chamber.  I’ve seen it many times on TV and on Google images, but it was so incredible just being there and seeing how beautiful it was.  From what I remember I saw one senator talking about Chuck Hagel and other random stuff, it was quite empty and barley anyone was there. 

After visiting the Senate Gallery are day of visiting the Capitol was concluding.  After walking out of the Capitol Building, I looked at it, it was so beautiful reflecting to myself, in my mind I could not believe I went in there and saw it in person, and it was something I could not forget.

As we were out, we walked back to our buses to meet up with the other students in the program.  As we were walking it started to rain not heavily though.  I got to admit that DC looked pretty good in the rain, it looks beautiful.  We finally returned to our buses to meet with the other students.  From there we talked about our day of visiting Capitol Hill.  We would then make a quick stop to grab a bite to eat at DC Union Station. 

After having dinner at Union Station we were supposed to head off to a memorial study visit, but because of the unprecedented amount of traffic congestion that made me fall asleep we could not do it and instead proceeded to the JFK Center for the Performing Arts to see “Shear Madness.”  When I entered the building it was quite welcoming, the interior felt light and very contemporary.  The play “Shear Madness” was a very interesting play.  Though I did not get the meaning of it, what I do remember was that the setting took place in a barber shop there were six characters, though I don’t remember every second, it then turned into a solving case that involved a murder.  It was interesting it involved us the audience.  We had to figure it out by remembering what happened basically reconstructing a scene we saw.  After intermission, we took a vote which would determine the whole thing.  Really we were voting for a suspect.  There was a lot going, I just don’t know how best describe it.  However overall I liked the play, it was funny, humorous and interacting.  After seeing the play we went back to our hotel after a long busy day, to get some much needed rest for the next day. 

Thursday, day at the Arlington Cemetery and Pentagon Memorial: The next day pretty much know the routine, get ready head down.  On that day we were assigned to the electives we signed up.  That meant we weren’t going to be with our workshop.  The elective I signed up for was the Service and Sacrifice which meant that he would be going to the Arlington Cemetery and Pentagon Memorial.  There were 40 students in our elective.  All of the Lincoln kids were in it too. 

We headed out to the Crystal City Station and to take DC Metrorail.  The ride wasn’t long; it was quite short, just a few minutes.  Once we there we walked to the cemetery.  The cemetery contained gravestones of those who died while serving in the military whether it was WWII or the American Civil War.  It was pretty big and I could not believe I was there.  There I saw the gravestones of JFK and his wife and the continually burning flame, RFK and Ted Kennedy.  We also went to the top of the cemetery to see not only a great view of DC, but also the gravestone of Charles L’Enfant who initially designed Washington DC.  I also visited the Arlington House formally owned by Robert E. Lee who served in the Confederacy.

After visiting the Arlington Cemetery and having lunch we headed our way to the Pentagon to see the Pentagon Memorial.  We took the metro from Gallery Place to the Pentagon Station.  We then emerged; we walked just a few feet and saw the Pentagon.  It was so great to see this building in person, I’ve seen it many times on Google Images, and now I was seeing it in person.  We arrived at the memorial.  I saw the Pentagon and where the Airplane on 9/11 and where it hit.  There was a portion of the Pentagon that was lighter in terms of color. 

At the memorial we saw the design, patterns and how it was laid out.  They looked like benches in some ways.  The pattern and sequence in the layout.  Here’s how it works; the plaques that you first pass by are the youngest who perished and the last one you get to is the oldest, in this case the youngest who died at the time was five, while the oldest was 77 at the time.  Here’s another pattern, for each individual plaque if you read the names and at the same time you’re looking at the Pentagon the person who died, died inside the Pentagon, vice versa if you looked at and at the same time you looking away up in the sky the victims that died were on the airplane that crashed into the Pentagon.  I got to admit I like the layout, the patterns and the design of it. 

After seeing the Pentagon Memorial we took Metrorail back to the Hotel where I went back to my room to relax before meeting with my workshop for one final time. 

At the final workshop meet of the trip, we met for one last time.  This time we talked about what we did the previous day as well as the electives we did that Thursday.  We shared the places we went to and the meaning it provided.  After that each one of us individually to the whole group sum up our most favorite moments of the trip and what it was like to work together.  There were a lot of positive thoughts.  I had a lot going through my mind, thinking of the moments and the great times we had.  Workshop of Red, White and Brock started as one shy bunch and gradually throughout that week became one happy family being able to know each other and understand each other regardless of where we come from.  This was a group I would never forget, it was very memorable.  After that me and the others got our unique Close Up certificates, kind a like getting a high school diploma, but not really. 

After our final workshop meeting, we had our farewell dinner as well as the concluding activities.  Each student from each workshop gave a brief speech reflecting the week of our trip and our time together.  After that we had our farewell dance, though not required to go, I stayed and danced around some good music.  When it was all said and done, I went up to my room and concluded for the night, but with one more day remaining.

My last day in DC and a visit to the Holocaust Museum: On the very last day, I got up actually late.  However at least I had most things packed up and ready to go.  Me and my Lincoln roommate rushed down to the lobby, that’s what happens when we oversleep.  With nothing to eat that morning, we were heading to the Holocaust Museum. 

Once we arrived at the Holocaust Museum.  Once there we went inside, and what I can remember was going through the sections, kind of like a timeline maze displaying things about the NAZIs and how they came into power and what would happen later.  Passing by each section was hard seeing the unthinkable acts take place from the night of broken glass to the harsh treatments of Jews my head felt like passing out.  As I went further I saw graphic images and photos of those who looked malnourished, and the remnants, it made it so hard for me to see, I felt traumatized indeed.  The box cars used to transport Jews to Concentration camps; though I’ve seen pictures, there was a display you could go into, I went in.  It gave me a better understanding of what it would be like to ride in one of those box cars in such abysmal conditions packed together, it just looked appalling.  After going through that maze and seeing the horrificness of what has happened in the past, I would think to myself “why did it have to happen”?  After coming out there was place to light candles to those who were victims of these horrific acts, I’ve never really done this before, so this was the first time doing it.  It was cool lighting the candles up, but very somber having to do it when these acts did not have to happen at all. 

After visiting the Holocaust Museum, it was time to head off to lunch, and after having lunch, we did one last thing before it was time to go.  Some of us decided to shop for souvenirs, throughout this trip I barely bought anything.  However while some were shopping for souvenirs, I saw the outside of Ford’s Theater.  Ford’s Theater was the theater well known for where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.  I also saw the house of where Lincoln passed away.  Though we didn’t have the time and money to get in, I snapped a few photos of both of these places. 

By the time we were done, our time in DC was about to come to a close.  We took Metrorail back to Crystal City Station, where we waited for shuttles to take us to the airport.  By the time we got to the airport it was time go home and go back to the city we came from.  However as I and the others make our return trip back home, I also carry the memory of the places we went and the new people we met, it is something that will me in my memory for a very longtime.   

Why gun control doesn't work

by Jacob Ortega

 

I'm very happy that gun control is being highlighted in this issue. Gun control is a problem that everybody should educate his/herself about. I usually don't concern myself with politics, instead electing to play video games and tell jokes, but gun control and the problems it creates are more important.

In 2008 the Supreme Court, in a five-to-four ruling, declared that the banning of firearms in Washington D.C. was unconstitutional, solidifying the individual's right to carry a firearm (Heller v. District of Columbia). While this could be interpreted as the Constitution prohibiting any and all limitations on the ownership of firearms, the truth is quite the opposite.

Justice Antonin Scalia, whose opinion was carried by the majority in Heller's case, stated that his opinion should not apply to, "laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions on the commercial sale of arms." Current gun control laws follow this model.

While I agree that some sort of regulation is needed, I also believe that a vast majority of gun control laws are inefficient, especially here in California. Current laws prohibit guns that have large magazine capacities, are 'assault weapons,' can support full-auto fire, or are short-barreled rifles and shotguns.

Making specific guns illegal doesn't work. Law-abiding citizens will not be able to purchase military grade weaponry, but the mass murdering marauders don't care. They're kind of like speeders, who don't even care about the speed limit anyway. Making military-grade guns illegal won't take them off the streets, and criminals will get their guns the same way they do most activities—by breaking the law. One great example is the 1997 North Hollywood Shootout; the robbers had highly modified and extremely illegal weapons that outclassed the pistols and shotguns that the local patrol officers carried at the time.

It would be safer if law-abiding citizens had more guns available. Take a look at Switzerland; an estimated 46 percent of Swiss citizens carry firearms. Their laws are somewhat strict, but far from California strict. Only 40 gun-related homicides in Switzerland were reported in 2010 (that's only 0.52 homicides per 100,000 people annually). Why would a country with a large amount of privately owned guns and less restrictive laws have such little gun-related crime? Simple: the citizens that own guns are well trained, and the Swiss government promotes responsible ownership over restricted ownership.

To even get a gun a Swiss citizen must undergo a background check and psychological evaluation by their dealer. If those two things go smoothly, the dealer then trains the citizen to properly use the weapon before getting their license. If the citizen is later deemed a danger to themselves or others, or breaks the law, their license can be revoked at any time.

A lot more can be done to stem gun violence, but where should we start? I say the mass media. Whenever a big shooting happens, like those of Columbine or Sandy Hook, it gets all over the news. Reporting a mass shooting isn't bad by itself; the people deserve to know what's happening in our nation. But then the reporters slap the face of the shooter on every newspaper, every news TV program and every news website. They go over their personal information, debate about what demons possessed them, how it could have been avoided, and blah, blah, blah. It's like a cross between Charles Manson and Kim Kardashian.

The media is making the killers famous for committing mass murder. It happened with Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. It happened with Seung-Hui Cho. It just happened in December with Adam Lanza. Reporting the event is perfectly fine, but by publicizing the incidents irresponsibly the media are creating celebrities out of these horrible people. Now every troubled teenager with access to weapons has a collection of idols. In fact, Adam Lanza is speculated to have been motivated by Anders Behring Breivik, the man who killed 77 people in Norway two years ago.

There's no need to put the face of a mass murderer on TV screens. We don't have to analyze exactly how the shooting happened from start to finish. We certainly shouldn't have delve into the killer's mind to find out what made them snap. None of that helps when it's broadcast on national TV.

Our current methods desperately need improvement. I'm all for background checks, but laws that take guns away from common citizens won't fix the problem if criminals break the law (which they will). It would make more sense if guns were more available to citizens, since a Good Samaritan can stop a shooter.

I am not saying that keeping a gun will make you safer, because that isn't entirely true. I'm saying that our congresspeople need to think differently about this issue. Trying to take all guns away won't affect the issue in the slightest. Instead of trying to keep guns from law-abiding citizens, Congress should promote responsible ownership by educating said citizens. If the people learn to better understand guns, the people will be more responsible. I know that anti-gun activists are well intentioned, but good intentions and insufficient execution are a recipe for disaster.

Tighter restrictions on gun ownership is a necessary action

by Serina Fang

 

2012 was the year that brought the debate over gun control back into light with the Colorado theater shooting in the summer and the Connecticut elementary school shooting in the winter. However, the total amount of mass shootings last year was sixteen including the aforementioned two cases.

 

Handguns and shotguns were not the only types of firearms used, but also automatic submachine guns and military-grade assault rifles. In nearly every case, the guns were legally purchased or taken from a relative, friend, or neighbor who had obtained them.

The fact that the criminals who that commit these mass killings can so easily get their hands on not only handguns, but also assault rifles designed to shoot down armies, is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated any longer. 

 

The Second Amendment supposedly protects gun ownership in the United States, and the Supreme Court had ruled that Congress has limits on how much it can regulate the interstate sale of guns and that all citizens have the right to own guns for lawful self-defense. The Second Amendment is as follows: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right for people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

 

This brings up the most common argument for having no gun control: the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But in what ways can the “good guys” prevent situations such as the killing of 26 elementary school students in Connecticut from happening with guns? Shoot the criminals down before they can set their nefarious plans in motion? Most of the mass shootings last year were perpetrated by people who were loved and trusted or at least were kept safe and care was given to them. The definition of a “bad guy” isn’t always so readily discovered until the crime was committed and the deeds were done. The chance of practicing lawful self-defense might not ever come up until the criminal is discovered, but by then it is most likely too late. Take the perpetrator of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, Adam Lanza, for example. He was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder in elementary school and Asperger’s syndrome in middle school, and throughout his teenage years his devoted mother helped him by transitioning from one school to the next, trying to find the best environment for Lanza to learn in. Adam Lanza’s family and those who knew him never expected his shooting rampage to happen, for to them he was an extremely quiet but intelligent person, and was definitely not a mass murderer at first glance.  

 

In my opinion, background checks should be mandatory when somebody is purchasing a firearm, and that involves not only looking for criminal records in the past, but also checking for relatives with criminal pasts or mental illnesses. Common citizens who are not law enforcement or part of a neighborhood watch organization should not own guns at all unless they live in areas with a high crime rate and pass all background checks.

 

Military-grade assault weapons should be banned entirely. Why should a suburban bungalow hold AK-47’s? Is it really necessary for a neighborhood watch to keep automatic assault rifles for the slim possibility of needing to gun down an army of gangsters? Before such firearms could be used to administer justice against criminals, they have a higher chance of falling into the wrong hands or they could be used to cause unintended harm. 

 

It is true that even with gun ownership restrictions, criminals will still own guns illegally anyways and that will put law-abiding citizens at a risk. However, using the reason that since criminals will obtain guns with disregard to the law and therefore gun restrictions are useless is putting the cart before the horse. Robbers will rob banks regardless of locks, but that doesn’t mean we do away with safes. With well-defined and well-kept gun control laws, it will not stop firearms-related crimes completely, but it will reduce it.

In conclusion, restrictions on gun ownership will lessen the amount of mass shootings and other similar firearms-related crime. With extensive background checks and a ban on all military assault weapons for common citizens not involved in law enforcement to buy, perhaps we will finally reach a time where we won’t have over sixteen gun massacres in one year.

 

Lincoln Log gives its two cents about bullying

by The Lincoln Log

 

Faggot. Fatass. Retard. Worthless piece of shit. The group trailing after the victim, hitting and threatening and hurting.Two cents.jpg Every school everywhere has cases of bullying both reported and unreported. Bullying is an issue that is not easily solved or even easily found. An act of bullying can be obvious and physical, such as shoving a victim into a locker or punching them to the floor, but it can also be committed through subtler techniques—an anonymous phone call full of spite, a hateful message online. Peer Resources defines bullying as “using power (real or imaginary) to belittle another person and can be repeated.  Bullying can be physical, verbal, cyber, and social or psychological.” School administrators should address the issue of bullying and take it seriously rather than dismissing it as the ever vague and frustrating description “kids will be kids.” But even if bullying if discovered and the perpetrators are caught, how should it be dealt with? Administration can discipline the bullies as much as they can, or they can console the victims as much as they wish, but targeting one side to deal with will not solve the problem of bullying. Bullies should be disciplined, bystanders should be encouraged to act, but victims should also be taught to stand up for themselves.

Most documentaries show only the most obvious of bullying, but this is not the reality of what occurs at Lincoln. For instance, a popular student surrounded by friends and acquaintances might make a condescending statement to another student. To those who are friends with the student making the statement, it would come off as something witty or clever, but to the recipient, it’s hurtful. So-called “friends” could also be bullies, hurting victims who are their friends and justifying their actions by calling it “joking around” or “being sarcastic.” Going to a teacher or counselor might not help because this form of bullying is subtle and made to hurt because of perception. To others, it’s nothing. To the victim, it hurts not only because they feel it, but also because not everybody else could understand.  

From kindergarten to high school, students are taught to “talk to an adult” when they are being bullied; as if things are ever going to be fixed by talking it out. After high school, what happens when they encounter another bully? There won’t be any more counselors to talk to, or mentors to turn to for help, besides paying to see a therapist or psychiatrist. Generally speaking, people will have to learn how to stand up and speak up for themselves. To learn how to do so is not only a big step needed to take into adulthood, but also one method to end bullying there and then.

Lincoln has been exceptional in its efforts to stop bullying. With events such as Pink Tsunami, the Brotherhood and Sisterhood Assembly, and Ms. Mayer’s showing of “The Bully Project” to a variety of classes, it is evident that Lincoln really attempts to prevent bullying among students. However, as much as administration could try to completely eradicate bullying from the school, this might not help victims in the long run. Bullying in the form of teasing and name-calling is not against the law. As bullying remains a problem seen to people mostly among “kids,” sayings like “kids will be kids” will always remain to live on. 

Is listening to music in class really that bad?

by Albina Protich

 

Every person has their own strategies to keep them focused while they do work.photo.jpg Some people need complete silence, other people do not mind a little bit of noise, and then sometimes there are people that like to just completely block out the outside world and tune into some good music while they do their work.

The question whether or not music should be allowed in class during independent work time, in my opinion, is overlooked way too much. I conveyed a poll from teachers asking them if they allow music in class during independent work time. Out of the 36 teachers that voted, only ten checked yes as their vote. One teacher even wrote beside their “yes” vote “It's mandatory”.

The other 16 teachers voted no. Some of them even wrote side comments to reflect how strongly they feel about music in class. The comments included, “ Not a chance- focus!” and “Never ever ever!”.

I completely understand that a teachers classroom is their classroom, and what they say goes; however, what I wonder is, is listening to music while a student does their work really that harmful? For some people, music helps them concentrate even better. Studies have shown that the right kind of music can help relax a person’s mind which enables the person to concentrate better, perfect for doing homework or studying for a test or exam. It cuts down on distractions and helps you focus on your work.

For example, I myself would  prefer to listen to some good music rather than to listen to people screaming and shouting aimlessly around and across the room. After all, it is independent work. Students should be able to decide for themselves what helps them concentrate better.

One of the main reasons that electronics are not allowed in class is because of thefts. Faculty does not want to feel responsible for students possessions, so they would just rather prefer that no electronics are in sight.

Other teachers argue that music is just distracting to the student, especially if the student is doing work involving reading; however, I feel as if a high school student is old enough to decide for themselves what helps them focus and what doesn’t.

School the day after finals is pointless

by Christine Ong

Expecting students to come to school the day after four long days of finals is highly impractical. Art for story.jpgAfter finals, students want to relax and start their vacation immediately, not worry about having to go to school the next day. These two days of school before winter break and summer break should be canceled because they are not attended by most of the student body. 

On days with a large decrease in attendance, the state loses money. This past October the San Francisco Unified School District lost $158,935 in funding from the state on the day of the Giants parade and Halloween because of a noticeable drop in attendance. Even fewer students attend the last day of school before vacation, so those two days should be canceled in order to save the state money. 

Some teachers don’t even attend the last day themselves. I have had some teachers who have left for vacation a week early or never attend the last day. The students of these kinds of teachers are left behind to be supervised by a substitute teacher, and the students usually watch a movie or play games. 

The teachers who do attend the last day have different opinions on it. Some teachers require the students to come to school because they treat the last day like a normal school day, but students don’t feel the same way; if a teacher requires them to come to school, they usually attend one of the teacher’s morning periods instead of their regularly scheduled class.

I think it is very unrealistic to expect students to learn new material on the last day of the December semester and remember it well when they come back to school two weeks later. It is not bad that teachers want their students to learn more material in order to expand their knowledge, but it is more likely that they will hang out with friends or relax during their vacation rather than review the material they learned that day.

Some students live far away from Lincoln and have to commute a long distance in order to get to school. Being required to come to school for only one period is unfair to those students because of the extra effort they have to exert to please the teacher that requires them to attend the last day.

Other teachers tell their students not to come to class and tell them that any teacher who threatens to give them an F for not attending the last day is lying. Grades are due in the morning, so little can be done to change a grade on the last day. Most of the students who do come to school only come to check grades in certain classes and then leave.

Legally, teachers cannot tell students to not come to school because students are technically supposed to attend school. If a student gets into a serious accident on that day, the school is responsible for him or her.

If the school district is opposed to canceling these two days, the two days can be declared as professional development days instead of school days because teachers have to finish work for the semesters and would benefit from the extra work time.

It is a waste of time to tell students to attend the last day of school. Canceling these days will save teachers time in part because they will not have to convince their students to believe their point of view to attend school, and it will save the state money. Students will be much happier enjoying their vacation a day early rather than being forced to attend an unproductive day.