310: How Many More?

310. That’s how many students have been killed by guns in schools since 1980. 310 lives ended too soon. I used to never get scared during lockdown drills; they used to be practice for something that I assumed would never happen at my school. But for some reason, this time, waves of fear were being sent throughout my body. Four days before the lockdown drill was the shooting at Umpqua Community College. 1,027 days before the lockdown drill was the shooting at Sandy Hook. 3,097 days before the lockdown drill was the shooting at Virginia Tech. 6,014 days before the lockdown drill was the shooting at Columbine High School. With more and more students dying in schools as a result of shootings, I begin to questions whether these practice lockdown drills are as pointless as I used to make them out to be. Are we really practicing for something that will never happen? This was the first lockdown drill that I was scared. I was afraid that this time the lockdown drill was not a drill. I was afraid that it was real. My heart was racing, hands were shaking, and I could not sit still. During those fifteen or so minutes I sat and thought it what would have been like to be in a classroom at Umpqua Community College, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, or Columbine. I thought about how last year my biology teacher, Ms. Schmadeke said that in the event a shooter came into the classroom, she would do everything in her power to protect us, her students. I thought about what I would do if a shooter came into the classroom. I thought about what my parents would do with my room if I died. I thought about if any gun laws would change as a result of my murder. And I thought about how frustrated I would be knowing that I died in a shooting but still nothing happened to stop mass shootings from happening in the future. These thoughts kept blowing through my head for the next fifteen minutes until I heard the all clear. Then my life returned to normal. However, that is not always the case. 138 schools have been involved in a mass shootings. 138 schools that had practiced doing the same lockdown drills as us. 138 schools full of students and teachers who had no idea what was going to happen at their school that day as they walked through the front doors. Mass school shootings are going to keep happening until our lawmakers can do something about the massive problem our country has with guns. Arming teachers is not the answer. Passing more concealed carry laws are not the answer. This is a gun problem. While scouring the Internet for an answer how to stop school shootings I came across an Atlantic article that said, “Firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation. Though the sample sizes are small, we find substantial negative correlations between firearm deaths and states that ban assault weapons (-.45), require trigger locks (-.42), and mandate safe storage requirements for guns (-.48).” Even though correlation does not mean causation in most statistical findings, this is significant evidence that points to more gun control legislation as the solution to stop mass shootings.   I wish to live in a United States where no student, from junior kindergarten to junior in college, is gunned down in a place that is supposed to be  safe. A place where students are supposed to grow. A place where students are supposed to learn. A place where the only time bodies should lay on the ground is during naptime. Gun violence is not just happening in schools. There are shootings in churches, shootings near our homes, shootings on our streets: all killing future generations, killing innocent people who should never have to worry about leaving their homes and being shot. I came across is a sad realization while writing this piece: with the absence of laws to stop shootings, there will come a point in time when we are going to stop asking if this can happen at Latin and instead ask when this will happen.]]>