36. 36 is the number of shootings in the United States that have occured this year. I’m writing this on Feb. 28, the last day of the second month of the year, and there have been 36 shootings already.
If you own a phone or a television, you probably know that since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that a massive debate about the state of gun control in the United States has been permeating through Twitter timelines and news broadcasts.
While this is not the first school shooting in the United States, and it will probably not be the last, something about the uproar of calls for reform seems different from previous shootings.
We are the ones who are affected, the children ranging from ages 14 to 18. We are the ones who feel the need to fear for our lives every time we leave our houses for school in the morning. We are the ones left to wonder if we said “goodbye” or “I love you” to our parents before leaving. Because honestly, how can we know if it’s the last time we see them?
I bet Alyssa Alhadeff thought it would be another normal day at school. Alhadeff, only 14 years old, lost her life to a bullet shot from the AK-15 assault rifle sold legally to Nikolas Cruz, an 18 year old in a obviously deranged state.
The hashtag #GunControlNOW permeates through my Instagram and Twitter feeds. I see students angered, upset, distraught, unable to focus on their studies in the classrooms that just don’t feel as safe anymore. If it seems like anyone can get their hands on an assault rifle, having the capability of causing so many casualties, am I safe in school?
But it’s not just about whether I feel safe in school. Am I safe going to RIO shopping center to see a movie? Or going to a concert?
The day after the shooting, I sat through my forensics class without hearing a word Mr. Herzon was saying, I was too distracted. What can I do? I’m not old enough to vote, I don’t have a real say in policy making. Our president wants teachers to be armed with guns. Politicians take millions of dollars in campaign donations from the National Rifle Association. All that I have left is my right to protest.
But, even that seems to be threatened to be taken away from me. On Feb, 21, students from Richard Montgomery organized a last-minute protest and march in the nation’s capital to vie for stricter laws regarding the purchase of firearms. The night before, I spent about an hour and a half making posters. Finally, I was able to have my voice be heard.
When the day finally came, I was sitting in second period, ready to leave with poster in hand. Then Principal Kim Boldon comes on the PA system, announcing that while she appreciates our right to protest, that she does not support our planned actions and that students would be reprimanded and given an unexcused absence if they left school property.
While I expected this announcement to come, I didn’t realize that it would deter me so much. I still decided to leave, to have my voice be heard, and it was so worth it. If not now, when would I ever have the opportunity to stand up to our stagnant government.
We need gun control. We cannot keep going through tragedy after tragedy and have no solution. We, as students, must stand up for what we believe in.
Senior Reviews Editor