It is far past time for change

When I was a child growing up in Chicago, Illinois, we had bi-monthly lockdown drills. 

The lights would go off, we would crawl under our desks, and we would sit in ten minutes of absolute silence. Any jokester who tried to make noises would be scolded the second the drill ended. The absolute silence always meant we could hear school administrators walking up and down the halls, testing the doors were locked, testing they couldn’t see in, testing we were out of sight. 

Everyone near globally is familiar with fire drills, of which we had plenty, but it takes reflection to understand just how terrifying it is that children as young as seven have it drilled into them the exact procedure for what to do when a man with a gun stalks through your elementary school. 

I hate that I have to write something about this again. 

I hate that this keeps happening. 

It took half a second for me to search the name of my local high school with the word “gun” to find an recent report of a student arrested for keeping a gun in his backpack. He was keeping a .38 caliber revolver in his backpack. 

What justification does the NRA have for that? Was this boy going to shoot out the lunch lady if she didn’t let him buy more than one can of soda? Was he going to threaten his teacher when he got less than an A? 

There are two sides to this story, and all those arguing in favour of our second amendment right to bear arms point to security. That’s disgusting. At what point does a 17 year old boy feel threatened enough in school that he needs a gun? 

If it’s not a matter of security, there’s the argument that it’s just one bad egg - besides, it was only one arrest, right?

Clearly it is not one bad egg. There have been seven deadly school shootings so far in 2018. This is an institutionalised crime. 

What more is there to say, at this point? What hasn’t already been said? What more can yelling into the void do to a grieving population who demands a change they won’t get from a government that does not care? 

A 16 year old student grieving the loss of her friends tweeted Donald Trump in the aftermath of the shooting. When he didn’t respond, she tweeted again: “I heard you are coming to my community soon. I would love for you to hear my opinions on gun control in person.” 

She’s being praised for the strength and determination she’s showing to prompt change after tragedy, and I am disgusted that a 16 year old girl is in such a place that she needs to demand such a thing. 

To finish off, consider this. The same girl tweeted an apology for the “profanity and harsh comment” for her initial tweet to Trump. In a moment of grief, anguish and pain, she still had the strength of mind to realise she acted less than perfectly, and apologised to a figurehead of a government that did nothing to avoid such a tragedy. 

Who would have blamed her for cussing out the President’s empty condolences in five different languages? I surely wouldn’t - she has so much more strength than I ever could in such a position. 

Her determination is commendable, but any anger she maintains is just as righteous. The anger of all of us - as students, as Americans, and as global citizens - is justified, and a force for change. 

The cycle of death and failed promises to reform needs to end one day, and if now is a time for condolences and prayers, it’s far past time for genuine change.