Lockdown drills were never taken seriously at my school. Students were just happy they could get out of learning physics or history. We sat by the wall, talking and laughing, while the teacher did the normal drill routine: lock the door, pull down the curtain to block people from peering in the window, and shush us when he heard the principal and the teachers conducting the drill walk past. Luckily for us, we never had to think about what an actual lockdown would look like.
For some on Tulane’s campus, this unawareness is not the norm. Shooting survivors walk along Tulane students who have never experienced the horror and tragedy of gun violence in the United States. The devastation of gun violence directly affects over 15,600 children and teens every year. Besides the 15,600 injured or killed, the family members and friends of the survivors experience turbulent change to their everyday lives as they continue to cope with the trauma.
With the recent release of Dave Cullen’s Parkland and the one year anniversary of the shooting, Parkland is in the forefront of many minds. Seventeen people were killed; many others were injured. Some in the South Florida community graduated from high school and now attend Tulane. One such person is Freshman Frankie Gaynor, an alumni from Coral Glades High School and the coordinator of the new project “Armed with Love”.
Armed with Love has been brewing in the back of Frankie’s mind since the beginning of her freshman year at Tulane. After coordinating with countless departments, her project came to fruition during the one year anniversary of Parkland on February 14th.
Armed with Love came prepared with multiple ways to jar students and staff into action. Name tags of the 235 killed in school shootings since Columbine sit on a table. A black banner hangs in the center of Pocket Park. Passers-by take intrigued glances, sometimes coming up to Frankie’s team to ask questions and join the demonstration. Near the end, there was a moment of silence from 1:21 CST to 1:26 CST–the time that the shooter was in the building. Demonstrators laid down in silence, some crying, others distraught. Anyone walking down McAlister had to pay attention and be aware of what was going on.
In addition to recognizing the gravity of the mass shooting epidemic, Armed with Love is working with organizations like TUPD to change the way Americans respond to school shootings. Often, people are instructed to remain inside rather than run away. Now, law enforcement encourages programs like “Run, Hide, Fight”, “Stop the Bleed”, and hiding in “hard corners”. While the ultimate goal is to prevent any and all shootings, responding efficiently to mass shooting events is important in the interim.
So what can you do as a student? Contact your local government officials, support organizations like Moms Demand Action and Everytown, attend events like March for Our Lives, and encourage student activism on Tulane’s campus.
Columbine. Newtown. Las Vegas. Santa Fe. Sutherland Springs. Aurora (Colorado and Illinois), Parkland. Learn their names. Learn their stories. Learn how to make change.