aOn May 24, 19 students and two teachers were killed Robb Elementary in Ovaldi, TexasThe deadliest mass shooting in the history of our country. I remember staring at my phone while the agonizing headlines were: 4th grader Cirillo water She covered herself in her classmate’s blood to trick the shooter into thinking she was already dead; Teacher Arnoflo Reyes, who was shot in the arm and lung, lost 11 students in his class; A 10-year-old corpse Mighty Juliana Rodriguez She was so disfigured from bullets that she could only be recognized by her lime green Converse with a heart drawn on her right toe.
In the news, photos sad families Clinging to each other, children climbing out of windows and running away from the school which had turned into a war zone with their faces twisted in shock and confusion, were haunting them. That same night, my friends and I stayed up late sharing articles and TikTok updates with the same weight we felt afterwards. ParklandAnd the santa feAnd the Oxford High—Now, with the suffocating pain of another tragedy added to the list. It was the wretched familiarity of adulthood in the Venetian era.
When I got to my high school in Texas the next day, the official was standing at the door with a wagon full of confiscated materials. Of course, there were backpacks, which were never allowed during Finals week, but I was surprised to see smaller bags too – brown paper lunches, end-of-year gifts for teachers – that my school hadn’t had before. Right before I could enter the building, the administrator pointed to my laptop bag. “In what happened yesterday,” she explained in an apologetic whisper, “we are on the edge of the abyss.”
I handed my bag without a second thought because I knew exactly how my boss was feeling. Like most American schools, we stop breathing from Snapchat threats and warning messages posted on Instagram. Only when the child is caught with a gun in his pants can we breathe easy again, and our bleak relief that no one was hurt outweighs the horror of what could have been. Since they could pull the trigger, we’re faced with an active shooting drill that devours entire study periods and practice leaving the door closed at all times, no matter who’s begging to be let in—a colleague, a manager, a best friend. Sometimes we analyze our hiding places or plan what to do if we’re in the hallways, bathrooms, stairs, or cafeteria when the shooting starts, even though we know, deep down, that nothing can really prepare us for a moment like staring down Assault rifle barrel.
And with every shooting at school—27 so far, in 2022 aloneOur fears gain legitimacy. That’s why legislators Crowd around more armed officers on campus And additional security checkpoints, and why Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz Introduce the idea of ”there is one door that enters and exits the school”. Other notable personalities such as Former President Donald Trump And the Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association It seems to be reading from the same teleprompter flashing the same continuous buzzword: just Schools “hardening”.
But while I understand that the quick reaction to violence is a push for enhanced security, I can’t help but ask questions. Why did I have to give up my laptop bag? Why was the official looking at threats like she was a TSA officer or a prison warden rather than a school employee? Why did my school – an educational institution – have the responsibility to check for weapons to prevent students and staff from being shot?
Most of all, I am amazed that the concept of tightening schools is even an informal talking point. To me, it feels like a confession — that gun violence is the new normal, that school shootings will inevitably happen again, and that there’s nothing we can do but prepare for the next blast.
If lawmakers don’t pass critical gun laws and common sense such as general background checks and 30-day waiting periods for gun sales Supported by the majority of AmericansWill students, already trapped between the social pressures to fit in and the pressure-cooker environment of academics, be forced into more energetic shooting exercises? Forced to give in to the constant fear that our lanes might one day turn into a shooting range? On top of making lesson plans and assigning grades, are teachers expected to respond armed, A feat not even trained law enforcement officers could manage in Uvaldi?
I don’t want to go through metal detectors and get one clear backpack Searched before the date test flanked by steel doors and bulletproof windows. I don’t want my teachers, who are already overworked and underpaid, to lecture with a marker in one hand and a pistol in the other. Nor do I want my school to be an impenetrable fortress where I learn how to instinctively run to the nearest exit rather than how to solve a math problem. It doesn’t have to be this way until the students are safe in school.
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