It’s only been a few years since I started to care about gun control, but that is enough time for me to realize that the government’s policies about guns need to change, and they need to change now. I had seen and heard all of the tragedies in the news, but I hadn’t thought such tragedies could affect my small town in northern Virginia—until it almost did.
I remember the moment very vividly. It was around 12:30 and there was a substitute teacher that day in AP Government. There wasn’t anything specific our teacher wanted to do so all of us were just browsing through our phones and making conversation with the people at our tables. This was a pretty normal thing that would happen almost every day. What didn’t happen every day was the voice of my school principal that came on the intercom system.
We all froze as he asked everyone in the building to prepare for an emergency lockdown procedure, in which we would huddle into one corner of the room and sit in complete darkness while the teacher would lock our doors and put a cover over the door’s window so no one in the hallways would be able to see into the classrooms. That’s exactly what we did, except this time we were confused and afraid, because this wasn’t a drill. A lot of my classmates were on their phones because many students were going on Instagram Live during this lockdown, but I didn’t have enough time to think and grab my phone before huddling in the corner next to a couple of my friends.
I thought, what if this is the last chance I have at living? I didn’t get a chance to tell my parents, my best friends, the ones close to me that I love them and I will cherish them. I was worried that I was going to lose my life any second, or be a witness to someone who could lose their life. I had no choice but to sink my head into my knees and pray that everything would be okay.
Around thirty minutes passed and my principal’s voice comes over the intercom saying that the lockdown was over and we could go back to what we were doing before. I felt hesitant, confused, and still afraid as I raised myself from the floor. I was in tears because of how terrified I was that we were about to lose our lives, be involved in an American tragedy, and be recognized only as school shooting victims.
What was then fear turned into anger because days following this incident, the school had not released any information on what may have caused this to happen. All they said in the email they sent out to students, families, and faculty members was that there was an emergency lockdown because of a potential threat, but everything was taken care of and settled. My friends and I became angry at our school for not disclosing information with us, since we felt that we needed to know what happened and how to prevent it from happening again as members of our school’s community.
Gun control is something to be taken seriously, and something to be talked about across every American classroom. Frankly, in some ways, it is sad that we, as people of American society, have to live with this fear that we may die any second, that we may lose someone we love to an AR-15.
According to Pew Research, around 44% of Americans say that they know someone who has been shot. Research also shows that around 40% of Americans say they own a gun or live in a household with one, and the rate of manslaughter or murder by firearm is the highest in a developed world. So why is gun control still a problem if these statistics keep getting more atrocious every year? Three words: National Rifle Association. The NRA spends about $250 million per year, far more than all the country’s gun control advocacy groups put together. In terms of lobbying, the NRA officially spends about $3 million per year to influence gun policy.
There is not one way to solve all mass shootings from happening, but I will leave you with this. Talk to your public officials and tell them that this matters to you. Your voice matters, and you have the power to transform legislation. Support organizations like March for Our Lives, who stands for gun violence prevention and lifts the voices of young people across the country. We cannot let another live be lost. If we continue to fight for stricter gun laws and make our voices heard, we will change the future of this country.