In all of the pain surrounding the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, there is one group across America that has not, as a whole, had their voices heard: high schoolers themselves. Now more than ever, high schoolers are being asked to accept the idea that their space of learning could just as quickly shift into a space of violence—something that is exemplified not only in the most recent school shooting but in the fact that it was the seventeenth so far this year.
“It’s devastating,” says Greta, a junior high school student from Seattle, in an interview with the author. “I see [shootings like] that in the news so much…. It’s terrible.”
High schoolers are being forced to accept that, with 345 recorded mass shootings in 2017 alone, their lives are being put at risk for the sake of gun ownership. Despite the fact that the United States is the only first-world country to have mass shootings in these quantities, gun laws go largely uninhibited—in fact, nearly one year ago, Trump nixed an Obama-era regulation, blocking the Social Security Administration from running a national background check on mentally impaired recipients. “We’ve had so many devastating, you know, things happen with these school shootings. And the thing is, like, we’re letting it happen, over and over again,” says Greta. “And I think that’s really sad.”
While the Founding Fathers felt the right to bear arms deeply important, they could never have foreseen the invention of the AR-15—a gun that, being a semi-automatic, releases bullets as fast as someone can pull the trigger, and will continue shooting until the magazine is empty, and has been used in the shootings of Sandy Hook, Aurora, and San Bernadino. It was also used, after being legally purchased, to kill 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Due to a reluctance to amend the Constitution to fit the times we live in, high schoolers across the country are coming to terms with the fact that simply by attending school, they run a risk of being killed, as well.
The fear that is being normalized within high schools across the nation is yet another sign that we need, as a nation, to do better—at protecting our children, at tightening the loose gun laws that allowed a troubled nineteen-year-old to legally buy an AR-15, and at ensuring that nothing of this caliber happens to another defenseless group of minors ever again.
[Feature image by Unsplash; second image by Greg Lovett at The Palm Beach Post; third image by Luke Sharrett at Bloomberg]