Last week, KO held our first lockdown drill of the year, where we simulate protocols for if/when we have a threat to our safety on campus. These lockdown drills have been a common practice at KO for all seven years I’ve been here, as well as at all other schools I’ve attended.
A few days prior to the drill, my sixth-grade advisee group was discussing what they should do when the lockdown happens and why we need to have the drills in the first place. It was alarming how nonchalantly 11-year-olds were able to talk about the possibility of an active shooter on campus. They spoke about it like it was normal and even talked about “funny” incidents from previous lockdowns they have had. Seemingly, an entire generation has been desensitized to these types of situations, because to us it is the status quo.
That conversation prompted me to think about how our generation is being forced to deal with the consequences of decisions we have had little to no say in. Mass shootings have been an ongoing issue in America since the mid-1980s. Almost 50 years later, we are still dealing with the same issues. If anything the problem has only worsened and there has been no tangible change.
For as long as I can remember, the repercussions of insufficient gun control in the United States have been looming over children. I can vividly recall hiding in my primary school cubbies for my first of many lockdown drills, or when my third-grade teacher had to explain to a class full of eight-year-olds what the Sandy Hook shooting was.
If you hear about something enough times or for long enough, the subject will understandably start to feel normal. Eventually, these tragedies are just another headline in the news. They all blend together, not because of a lack of empathy, but simply because we have become so accustomed to these events that we begin to be numb to how tragic they truly are.
On top of that, when these mass shootings continually happen, they no longer are discussed in a classroom environment to the extent that they should be. They are swept under the carpet, which adds to the unfortunate normalization of these events.
As a community, it is important that we don’t let ourselves become desensitized to these senseless acts of violence. Kids should not be so used to hearing about and preparing for these types of incidents that they feel like it is inevitable. We should not be able to laugh about lockdown drills like they are routine. As a generation, we have been let down by those in positions of power in America for years.
Our country as a whole is decades behind other countries, in terms of both gun control policies and reactions to mass shootings. Take Japan as an example, they have much stricter gun control laws and only 11 gun-related incidents per year. Gun control and the second amendment are both widely controversial subjects in American politics, even though they should not be. There have been over 600 mass shootings in the United States in 2022 alone. This year, there have been 3179 individuals shot due to gun violence. These numbers are absolutely unacceptable. Politicians support only their party’s policies at the determinant of an entire generation. Those same politicians hide behind the 200-year-old constitution as a justification for zero effective policy change.
The responsibility of fixing this problem has unjustly fallen into the hands of our generation. We are the ones who have to ensure that “thoughts and prayers” are not the only response.
I want to encourage our community, especially the younger members to force this conversation to be had and not allow it to continue to be normalized. Our generation has proven time and again that we can be a force for change, and we need to persist in our pursuit to fix the problems that are being neglected. Current politicians must be willing to enact real policy changes in order to fix the issues they have only worsened.
We have been raised to deal with these tragedies while they happen instead of those in positions of power trying to make an effort to prevent them before they happen. We shouldn’t have had to grow up in a time where lockdown drills, shootings, and excess gun violence were just another day, but we did. We have the opportunity and responsibility to impact change so that the next generations do not have to deal with the same type of burden we have had throughout our childhood.