“Sheesh. I just want this day to be over,” I muttered to myself while walking into my last period math class. The vectors on the board seemed to mock me as I found my seat. Five minutes into the lecture, a screeching noise emitted from the walls. A fire drill — my saving grace. Although I thought it was strange, considering we had a fire drill the day before, I didn’t ask questions. As my class walked outside, I couldn’t help but think that some seraphic being was watching over me. While my class meandered around, I noticed that this drill lasted much longer than usual. Eventually, my teacher discovered a glitch in the fire drill system causing the false alarm, and everyone went back inside. Be it a glitch or a real fire, I appreciated the unexpected break in my exhausting school day. Once I got back to my house, my false fire drill euphoria quickly faded when my phone buzzed with the news headline — My School Is Getting Shot Up.
While school shootings have somehow become a normality in today’s society, this one piqued my interest. As I delved deeper and deeper into the story, the narrative terrified me more and more.
The news reported that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, went back to the school he was expelled from with an AR-15 in a soft black case. He “[walked] purposefully” toward a particular building, gun drawn, and pulled the fire alarm. There were only 10 minutes left of the school day — why would a fire drill occur? This thought, coupled with the fact that there had already been another false alarm previously that day, caused confused students to scurry out of their classrooms, right into the sight of Cruz’s reticle. Seventeen lives were lost. From now on, students will fear fire drills. They will feel unsafe during assemblies. Celebratory public gatherings will now be considered easy targets for a killer.
Later that day, an article read that an eight-year-old girl asked her parents for new shoes because her light up Sketchers would give her location away in a shooting. An eight-year-old? We shouldn’t live in a world where we fear that our shoes, often the only form of self-expression in a school with a uniform, will be the difference between life and death.
Why are AR-15 rifles legal in the first place? No matter their recreational appeal, they are not worth the lives of children. It’s appalling that a nineteen-year-old can’t buy a beer, can’t buy a handgun, but can buy a semi-automatic rifle. Nikolas Cruz legally bought his rifle.
While many people may squabble over what to do about controlling guns, all I ask is that we DO something. Ban semi-automatic rifles, make background checks more thorough, make obtaining a gun more challenging: I don’t care what the fix is, all I care about is that we TRY to find a solution.
This isn’t a partisan issue — it’s a human issue. We need to strive to make real change. While this may seem like a naive, idealistic pipe dream, each of us can take small steps to enact change. It is our duty, not only as Americans, but as human beings, to try and save lives.