Saturday, April 20th marked the 20th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting, in which two students killed 12 of their peers in Littleton, Colorado. This shooting is widely recognized as one of the first of an era of modern mass shootings and gun violence in schools, concerts and places of worship across America.
I was born two and half weeks before the Columbine shooting. Since then, 50 mass shootings (defined as an incident in which five or more people are shot and killed) have occurred in the United States alone, eleven of which occurred in schools.
Growing up since Columbine, I have become accustomed to lockdown drills, protests for gun reform, and phone alerts of the most recent shootings. The fear of gun violence and mass shootings follows me everywhere I go. When I hear a loud bang at a concert or see people running in the subway, my first thought and biggest fear is the chance of an active shooter.
After years of protests and calls for gun reform across the country, politicians remain divided on the issue of gun control legislation. After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school, I believed that our country was finally ready to pursue gun reform. Unfortunately, partisan fighting overcame any opportunity for real and effective change.
The survivors of Columbine, 20 years later, are now terrified to send their own children to school. Since the shooting, these survivors have only seen the rate of mass shootings increase at an alarming rate. Without any promise for real change, many Americans have become hopeless.
My childhood was one filled with tragedies: terrorist attacks including 911, the economic despair of the 2008 recession, violent and costly wars, and many mass shootings. Our generation, after growing up in this era of darkness, can finally affect real change through voter participation and protest. College, high school and even middle school students have taken to the streets to protest the lack of progress being made on Capitol Hill.
Our time is now, before another generation of children must grow up seeing mass shootings on the TV and, sometimes, in their own classrooms.