By Daesha Gear
The gunman responsible for the Parkland shooting pleaded guilty Oct. 20 to killing 14 students and three staff members for his 2018 attack, bringing the conversation of gun regulation to the forefront of Americans’ minds once again.
After three years, the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting has reminded me that my life is never guaranteed when attending familiar places, like school.
The lack of gun control on irresponsible and nefarious gun owners makes it impossible to live without fear as a student, journalist and citizen of the United States. Their irresponsibility has led to reoccurring family fires, mass shootings and mostly, school shootings, which have increased significantly due to the return of in-person learning.
School shootings, personally, have always filled me with anxiety while trying to learn.
On that same day of the Parkland shooting, I always asked myself, “Could I, my sister or friends be a victim of a shooting like this if it occurred?”
But what really bothered me, at the time, was if I could consider myself safe.
The lockdown drills, for example, constantly challenged that belief as its purpose was to prepare other students and me on what to do if an armed intruder entered the campus. We were always taught how to barricade the doors, know which areas are the best to hide and, unfortunately, know to fight for our lives if we ever encountered the shooter.
Hearing that at such a young age — to prepare for a possible encounter of an active shooter on campus — informed me that school shootings have become more prevalent throughout the years and that schools themselves are not necessarily safe anymore.
One hundred and five school shootings occurred nationally, according to a 2018 report by Everytown, a nonprofit organization advocating for gun safety. Sixty-one students, staff members or security guards died, and 90 were injured due to the lack of gun control.
2018 was one of the deadliest years for US school shootings. However, in 2019 that number surpassed 105 incidents of gunfire at schools to 130.
However, the number of gun-related incidents in school decreased in 2020, due to the pandemic, at 96 with 23 deaths and 43 injured.
Gun activity in schools in 2021, though, has skyrocketed since the return of in-person learning.
So far, there have been 134 school shootings nationally, and the number continues to grow each day.
The rapid increase of gunfire at school needs to be addressed with stricter regulations on assault weapons and proper storage of firearms from parents as more children are experiencing gun violence at their schools.
According to the Washington Post, “more than 256,000 students have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine.” With the frequent school shootings occurring in this nation, it is ridiculous that there has not been gun control legislation that restricts and regulates firearms from being easily accessible to anyone by unlicensed sellers, like gun shows or illegal black markets.
Only 21 states and Washington, D.C. enforce stricter background checks, while the other 29 states are negligent toward gun purchases.
The lack of regulation and background checks required from unlicensed sellers creates the accessibility for firearms to be obtained by careless and immoral owners who could harm others easily — this needs to change as this makes an uncertain atmosphere to be safe in a public place.
It’s not about removing guns permanently or using victims’ unfortunate experiences as an opportunity to pass gun legislation: it’s about providing a safe environment for students while they rightfully earn their education. But it’s challenging to give that pedagogy with the frequent school shootings happening and lackadaisical gun regulations.
With 114 gunfire incidents occurring at schools nationwide, it is complicated to consider school as one of the safest places to be when it’s genuinely not. The lack of security surrounding guns destroys this comfortability with worries of being gunned down while learning.
“Thoughts and prayers” are not going to alleviate the pain families are experiencing to cope with the death of their loved ones to gun violence, and it’s not going to prevent school shootings from occurring again.
Actions speak louder than words, and the lack of action to enforce gun regulations continues this entire epidemic of gun violence on school premises, with nothing being done.
We, as a nation, are consistently failing to protect children in every school shooting that occurs in this country. With the lack of protection and reassurance, we leave students feeling fearful that their life is never guaranteed when attending school.