Updated: Dec 24, 2018
In 2012, I was ten years old. I was concerned with swim practice and school, the simpleness of my sixth grade life. Yet it was December of this year that I had first heard about a school shooting at Sandy Hook - something that I would grow to hear a lot about.
I remember not about what I had learned in school that day, but only that there was a mass shooting on a bunch of elementary school children and that we had to continue our day like normal. This was the first time that I can remember acknowledging America’s gun problem, and I thought that a school shooting wouldn’t happen again.
Now, as a sixteen year old in 2018, my generation has become acclimated to mass shootings. We don’t have the luxury to feel shocked. Instead we are left thinking “another one?”
It is during these times that I fear going to a public school with 4000+ kids attending. It is times like these that we are left wondering ‘Are we next?’
I was chatting with some of my friends after I heard about the incident in Florida. Someone brought up the statistic that there has been 18 school “shootings” in 2018 so far, and my friends response was of pure confusion. She didn’t even know that other mishaps were occurring in the US because that is what we as a society has gotten used to.
Kids bringing guns to school is not rare anymore, so when one kid does in fact bring one to school, we are not surprised.When my high school went into a code red this year, I was petrified. It was during my lunch, and I kept thinking how lucky I was that I decided not to go to the cafeteria that day, for it was closer to the entrances than me, upstairs in my yearbook room. Everything turned out okay, but in instances like those, you fear the worst and hope for the best.
My first code red drill originated when I was in elementary school. My generation has grown up to this. It is our blood being shed through these tragedies. We have witnessed and heard and talked about these incidents. It is a closed cycle of suffering. Mass shooting. Horrific event. Thoughts and prayers. Repeat.
But thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. It is getting more and more evident, especially after the Florida incident, that something needs to be done. It is times like these that we need to keep the gun control discussion advancing. We cannot keep waiting on larger mass school shootings to take action. Instead, we need to prevent it.
We shouldn’t have to be worried about our safety and our protection from gun violence while trying to get an education. The second amendment isn’t as important as our lives.
The Florida shooting and their victims have spoken out and are giving us this opportunity to try and make some kind of change. My generation demands change. We need politicians to stand up and take action. We need to elect politicians who won’t be bought out by the NRA, ones who listen to our voices.
We need to bring up important questions with the battle of gun control. Do we, as a society, need a semi-automatic weapon for self defense? Do we want our society to have more access to guns and weapons before we can even legally drink?
If it is a problem with mental illness, how are we going to better educate our youth about mental health? Is a freshman health class enough in the state of South Carolina? How are we going to make it harder for those mentally ill people to access guns?
These are the questions that we need to address as we move forward and it is crucial to keep them in mind. Our most influential way to getting these goals accomplished is through voting. Local elections are just as important as state and presidential elections. We need to get people in office who will listen to these demands.
I cannot vote for another two years. I may just be another teenager that will get overlooked for my age. However, my generation is angry and we will not be silenced. We will hit the polls soon, we will speak our minds, and we will come for blood. I applaud for you to do the same. Vote, vote, vote. Contact your local congress men and women. Help us make a change.
For we won’t back down until there is. ✉
piece by: kaitlin browne
visual by: common dreams