It has been a little over 4 months since I wrote my opinion piece on whether or not mass shooting were becoming an American societal norm. Since that article, my beliefs have only become increasingly confirmed and solidified.
Recently, a friend told me that as she was walking to the bathroom during class, she began to feel nervous because she was the only one in the hall. For some, it is difficult to fathom not feeling safe at school, but for many current students, this fear of school is not uncommon. Growing up, we were told that school is a safe place, and that we have nothing to worry about. As someone who attended school in the early 2000’s, even though it was after Columbine, I still felt safe at school, However, as I have gotten older, and events like Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Parkland, and so many other school shootings have occurred, it sometimes feels that I have been lulled into a false sense of security. While it is difficult to understand, the students of today have come to accept that school shootings are a harsh reality that can reach anyone.
I always wondered what my generation would become famous for. In the 1960’s, teens were peace-loving hippies. In the early 2000’s they were technology and boy band lovers. It seems, however, that my generation is one of school shootings. My peers and I have had firsthand experiences understanding what lockdowns are like and appreciating the real possibility of an active shooter entering our school. After the Virginia Tech shooting, when we were just 6 and 7 years old, the lockdown procedure at school changed - my classmates and I were told that, if possible, in the event of an active shooter, we were to run from the building and meet at a predetermined location. After Sandy Hook, when we were 11 and 12 years old, more security was added to our schools’ front entrances, and classroom doors stayed locked at all times. Now, after Parkland, the school is locking all its entrances and exits, with the exception of two doors. Heightened security measures have just become a normal part of lives.
The third deadliest school shooting in American history took place several weeks ago at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen more innocent lives were added to the long list of others who have perished because of senseless gun violence. It seems, however, that the Parkland shooting is leaving a different mark on America - the national reaction has led to massive protests and calls for gun control, most notably from high school students. No longer are the students keeping quiet on this issue - the Parkland teenagers have inspired kids everywhere to take a stand against gun violence.
Critiques of the Parkland students are saying that high schoolers are too young and naive to make effective decisions. Personally, I believe that anyone who is brave enough to speak out against wrongdoings deserves our respect. Furthermore, as the kids who have grown up in this age of school shootings, the power of gun control resonates more closely and authentically with these students, as they understand the tremendous and horrific power of gun violence. These students are working to change laws they see as unfit - should disregard what they say just because they are teenagers? After all, these “naive” teens will play a pivotal role in the upcoming 2018 elections, as they will have the power to vote.
The current climate that exists in our country is toxic. This is a fact - both sides of the aisle agree. However, what they disagree about is why this toxic situation has been created. America’s problem is that people are not looking to do what is best for the country; they would rather act in the interest of their political party. Compromise is likely going to have to occur on both sides of the aisle for any sort of change in regards to gun control to happen.
The parties must realize that teamwork is the only way to reduce the number of senseless deaths that are lost to gun violence. In the 1700’s, the government was created so the people could amend it when something was not working. Many citizens of this country seem to forget that, despite our lack of a direct democracy, they can make a difference. Citizens of this country can make a change, and should do so if they feel strongly about an issue.
Age makes no difference when speaking out about an issue, and I would encourage anyone who has a voice or feels they have ideas to contribute to the conversation to express themselves. Although we may be known as the school-shooting generation, perhaps, with a great deal of courage, passion, and voice, we can become the one that finally makes a change.