Every time my parents recount the day I was born, my family laughs and smiles, talking about the nurses, the surgery, the frantic trip to the hospital in the middle of the night, but there is one part that’s sure to never be left out. My birthday is April 19, 1999 – the day before the Columbine massacre. My mother sighs as she recalls the morning after my birth, watching the news and thinking to herself, “what kind of a world did I bring my child into?”
As these shootings become more and more common – from Columbine, to Sandy Hook, to the more recent shooting in Oregon – there’s less and less we can do to make students feel safe at school. Every day is a risk when coming to school as these events become harder and harder to predict. With an act of violence in mind and a gun in hand, there’s nothing we can do at the point that a student, like this, enters our school. Watching the news every morning is frightening, as we hold our breaths, watching countless reports of shootings in school. In fact, according to everytownresearch.org, there have been 150 school shootings in the U.S. since 2013 – and counting. These shootings range from suicide in the parking lot to killing sprees in classrooms.
The worst part is, these shootings are localized. Around the time my parents were born, schools practicing for bomb threats from Russia was normal – hiding under desks, provided masks – but now, the threat is coming from inside our own country, our own towns even, carried out by the guns that are so easily provided for them.
In order to prevent these attacks, we need to enforce stricter gun laws that prevent such easy access to weapons. Although many people would argue, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” this is not the case. Guns are the gateway to these murders. They are the thing that makes it so easy to walk through the doors of a university and kill an entire classroom of people, or, even worse – walk through the doors of an elementary school and kill 26 innocent children. Guns are the tools that make these murders happen. Sure, people kill people. But it is the gun that shoots the bullets.
Today, my sister had to evacuate her university as part of a bomb-threat drill. These drills took place because today is the one year anniversary of bomb threats at their school. Several exits were blocked off, forcing the students to “better know their surroundings,” as well as teachers giving a speech to all of the students about the recent shootings. Contrary to university lockdowns, high school lockdowns become more realistic every day, although, not so effective. Sitting in a quiet, dark classroom, locking the door and hoping that if this were real, the killer would skip your room, doesn’t feel like protection anymore. I think after this week, we all know if this lone gunman were to come into the class, we’re like sitting ducks. There is more that needs to be done than just saying our hopes and prayers.
When students are afraid to go to school, when they hear about these shootings day after day, it is time to make a change. It is time to re-enforce gun laws; to raise more awareness to the issue. Making sure I say “I love you,” to my parents before I leave for school, because I know there’s a chance I may not make it back, shouldn’t be a priority. Students should feel safe at school, and after this past week, I don’t.