The stark reality of school shootings: “So there will always be a school with students who, just like us, find out if today will be the day they die.“
Gen Z is desensitized. School shootings left and right, what’s new? We’re all terrified, of course, but there’s kind of a subconscious glossing over our fear. We don’t speak of it other than in passing, occasional jokes because under the thin layer of nonchalance, we are all thinking about it. A lot. Is that creaking in the hallway outside the art classroom a man with an assault rifle lying in wait for the perfect moment to shoot? If I heard shots fired right now, would I run into the bathroom or risk running through the hall to make it into a classroom? The tangible chill that settles over the class when the substitute teacher boasts of his conceal and carry. Our nervous systems are constantly vigilant, fight or flight is our normal state of being.
It was only days after the nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre when a random alarm during lunch shattered the boisterous chatter and laughter of the school cafeteria as we collectively froze. The timing tipped us off that this was no preplanned drill. A few screams pierced the silence, but fewer than you’d expect, for screams make easy targets. A silent stampede followed the screams. The smaller students nearly trampled as the panicked lunch crowd fought through a single exit. Lunches, belongings, and friends all left behind in the fray. Panicked and teary eyes, shaking bodies, and silence as we huddled on the football field waiting. No one dared speak while we waited to hear gunshots or police sirens. No one dared voice the fear that permeated the crowd. This is why Gen Z doesn’t talk about school shootings — it is our stark reality. After every school shooting we wonder: who’s next? We can’t stop them and those that can, refuse to protect us. So there will always be a school with students who, just like us, find out if today will be the day they die.
Mass shootings are increasing at an exponential rate. An unbelievable 281 mass shootings have already occurred in 2022. Gun-related deaths have become the number one cause of death for children. In fact, Gen Z has seen a horrifying 30% increase in gun-related deaths alone within a single year. According to the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, nearly 8,000 children and teens were shot and more than 1,600 died, on average, every year between 2015 and 2019. As gun violence and gun-related deaths skyrocket, rather than making any attempts to save our lives, Republican politicians choose to actively weaken gun safety measures. States like Florida, Texas and Georgia have aggressively pursued and enacted permitless carry laws which allow anyone over a certain age, with no training or permit, to carry weapons publicly. Their answer to the school shooting epidemic: arm teachers.
This attempt to “protect” America’s children leaves us simply living our lives in a state of hypervigilance, seeing threats in every moment and developing an overall perception of the world as inherently unsafe. Because school shootings are so common at this point, we have had to witness the mass murders of children of almost all age groups. Innocence stolen from our children too young to even comprehend evil as our leaders allow them to become the targets of murderers, legally armed with assault weapons designed for battlefield warfare. School children are being asked to complete DNA tests so when their bodies are unrecognizably mutilated by an AR-15 they can be identified. Insanity at the hands of the gun lobby and corrupt politicians who don’t care about us. No one is safe and we all know it. It’s no surprise that the unshakable feeling that we are destined to die at the hands of a gunman has resulted in a plethora of mental health issues.
Source: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Gun violence of this magnitude is a unique and glaringly American problem among developed nations. There are more guns than people in America. Further, the laws that govern the over 393 million guns in America are weak. Republican politicians are seemingly hellbent on removing all remaining safety measures and sense of security in our lives. It is truly hard to grow up optimistic about our futures. Despite the active campaign by the Republicans to remove the last vestiges of gun safety measures recently, there have been some glimmers of hope. President Biden recently signed into law the first major gun safety legislation passed by Congress in nearly 30 years. This bill expands background checks on young adults attempting to purchase guns, encourages states to allow confiscation of weapons from people considered “dangerous,” and expands upon a law preventing people convicted of domestic abuse from purchasing guns. A vast majority of House Republicans opposed the bill, arguing it would restrict Second Amendment rights. Again, prioritizing guns and the gun lobby over the safety of America’s children. Of course, the National Rifle Association and its minions in Congress opposed the bill. President Biden has doubled down on his push to protect us, promising to sign into law the House Democrats assault weapons ban if Democrats pick up the two seats necessary to pass the bill in the Senate. I believe I can speak for all of Gen Z when I say that we are done with the NRA and the Republican politicians they have bought and paid for. No more thoughts and prayers. We want you to protect us.
We want justice for the innocent lives lost.
We want to live.
We will vote like our lives depend on it because they do.
If you care about us, you will too.
Check out the rest of the articles in our Biden-Harris series:
The Awesome Accomplishments of the Biden-Harris Administration
Biden Continues the Job Growth Trends of Past Democratic Presidents
Big, Bold Climate Action in the Inflation Reduction Act
The Lifesaving Healthcare Provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act
The American Rescue Plan Is Even Better Than You Think
Republicans Have Brought Us to a Fascist Flashpoint
The PACT Act Proves Democrats Care About Our Veterans
The CHIPS and Science Act: A Boon for US Manufacturing and Technology
Eighteen Months in … and I’m Still Ridin’ With Biden
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