Let this be America’s last school shooting

Feb 21st, 2018 | By | Category: 2017-2018, Opinions

By Claire Alongi
Contributor

On Feb 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 17 people were killed and 14 were seriously injured when 19 year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire with an AR-15 rifle.

Another school shooting come and gone.

I’m tired. I’m tired of writing and reading about mass shootings and school shootings, and I’m tired of the fact that we’ve gotten to a point where such thing as a shooting can be a well trodden topic. I’m tired of lawmakers doing the same gig and dance, sending out prayers to the victims, wondering at the inhumanity of it all while taking money from the NRA and failing to impose any kind of gun control laws.

In one of his tweets after the Parkland shooting, Donald Trump said “No child, teacher or anyone else should feel unsafe in an American school.”

Honestly it’s a wonder that anyone does feel safe in a school, with 290 shootings occurring in schools since 2013 according to Everytown Research. Not all of them had the death toll of Parkland, but the fact that 290 guns have gone off in schools since 2013 should speak for itself.

But apparently it doesn’t.

Apparently we have to bring up the statistics every few months, more people dead but the firearms that killed them still walking the earth.

What arguments exist for the continued proliferation of guns in America, when countries like Japan have considerable firearm control and in 2014 had 6 gun deaths as opposed to a whopping 33,599 in the US, as reported by the BBC?

When did guns become more important than human lives, than the lives of children?

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the surrounding community mean to make it so that these questions don’t have to be asked anymore.

On Saturday students spoke to news networks like CNN and declared that they would be leading the charge to make their school the last school shooting in the US, as well as naming March 24 a day of a nationwide student protest to enact gun control laws.

At a gun control rally on Saturday, senior Emma Gonzalez told the crowd, “We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because […] we are going to be the last mass shooting. Just like Tinker v. Des Moines, we are going to change the law. That’s going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook and it’s going to be due to the tireless effort of the school board, the faculty members, the family members and most of all the students.”

She ended her speech with, “That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.”

It seemed impossible that nothing would be done after Sandy Hook, when 20 children no older than seven, along with six adults, the shooter and the shooter’s mother were killed. And yet here we are, locked in the same deadly push and pull with the deadliest mass shooting in US history only a few months behind us in Las Vegas and Parkland a raw wound in the present.

But I also like to think Gonzalez is right. This is a battle for the younger generations. After years of expecting the work to get done for us now it’s the time to step up and do it ourselves. Scream so loud, protest until feet hurt, research until eyes burn, write letters to Congress until hands are stained with ink. This isn’t a fight just for those at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. This is a call to action to students and young people everywhere.

Unlike other shootings in the past, there’s a certain feeling of ultimatum presented by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. On Monday, Feb 19 there were already student protests outside the White House. And the call to action on March 24 is the next big step. If this march is as successful as other recent nationwide protests big change could be just around the corner.

It’s time to make Gonzalez’s dream, and the dream of all those students from Parkland whether they survived or were taken far before their time, a reality.

Let this be America’s last school shooting.

 

clalongi@willamette.edu

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