This is 2018. The year shaping up to be the worst yet in America’s history. The year in which we have had 18 school shootings in the first two months. This is the age of death, of terror, of guns, of hopelessness. This is the time in which I must dread every morning that I wake up, because I have to walk into the doors of the place that has turned out to be one of the most unsafe atmospheres in the U.S. This is the time in which every fire drill, every loud crack, every noise, sends me into a panic attack. This is the time where nowhere is safe: not home, not school, not church. This is the time when assault rifles are placed into the hands of irresponsible teens who only know that they are used to kill. This is the time when I am called paranoid for being afraid during an unannounced fire drill and a lockdown. This is the time when I cry in the middle of class because I am terrified that the next thing I will see is the barrel of a gun pointed at me. This is 2018, and I’ve never been more afraid in my life.
Where are we, Weld Central? Are we really at the most advanced time in our history? I think not. Rather, we are in the most frightening time period in recent memory. What are we going to do about it?
Was I scared when I heard that there was an active shooter in Florida on Valentine’s Day? Not really. I thought, That could never happen to me. Not here at Weld Central. Was I scared when, in response to an alleged threat, we increased our security for the school day that Thursday? Slightly. I mean, there were police officers everywhere with large guns strapped across their chest. Who wouldn’t be a bit apprehensive? Was I scared when one of my classmates crossed the line and declared that they could find a million reasons to kill the people here? Of course! I don’t want to get shot! But was the terror a million times worse when our fire alarm malfunctioned not even two weeks after the events in Florida? Heck yeah! So much became real that day. I’ll never forget that on the 26th of February, I cried for hours because I had escaped death. It will never leave my mind that they told us to take shelter over the intercom and we all went into lockdown. I will always remember Mrs. Russo yelling at us to hide while she secured the doors and closed the blinds. I cannot put out of my mind how I gripped my friend’s arm while we sat on the floor and waited for gunshots to echo in the Commons. It will always stay with me how my teacher told us that if anything happened, she was going to take the steps necessary to protect us. I cannot ever forget how I could hear my heart pounding, how my whole body shook with the fear of all the possibilities.
When will the nightmares about guns and death and shootings stop? When will we never again have to fear the sound of our fire alarms? When will this end?
I am sick of the false hope that our lawmakers have tried to feed us for years. I am tired of defending our gun rights. I don’t want to have to hear the phrase “school shooting” ever again.
Stop telling us that we’re only kids. Stop telling us that the problem isn’t guns, but our wickedness. Stop telling us that we don’t have to be afraid because it won’t ever happen to us. Just stop it.
If we are only kids, then why do we have to be the ones who are standing up to change things? If the problem isn’t guns, but rather our culture, then why are you still promoting a society of hate? If we don’t have to be afraid, then why are we terrified? Give me a solution. Don’t tell me that what we are proposing won’t work when you’re not going to attempt to come up with a proposal of your own.
I appreciate the hopes and prayers, but only when you are sincere about praying and acting on your hope. I appreciate you doing your best to keep us safe, but only when you show that you care. It means a lot to have someone say that they’re going to do something about this, but it means so much more when they actually do something.
If we are going to put a stop to the endless cycle of school shootings in the U.S., it’s going to take more than empty promises. It’s going to take a collective effort of students and adults standing up to what is stopping us from making our schools a safe environment.
This is up to us now. Do something.