Are we numb to the talk of school shootings?


I was in the sixth grade on Feb. 14, 2018, when the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting took place in Parkland, Florida. Nikolas Cruz killed 14 students and three school administrators.
I had never realized that something so horrible was even possible. I remember being outraged. I was scared and didn’t know what to do, and I understood there was nothing I could do. I think back to March 14, 2018, when I participated in the 17-minute walkout. Seventeen minutes for the 17 victims.
Since then, I have been passionate about gun violence awareness in America. I have participated in activities associated with Students Demand Action, a group of activists striving to end gun violence in America.
Online, I have gotten into many arguments about the topic with people I barely know. Freshman year was rough; I felt very strongly about my opinions and didn’t realize there was any other way to think. I believed that what I thought was right and prided myself on that. As I matured, I almost became embarrassed about how I acted. Now I want to hear from those around me. I want to be able to listen to all sides of the story before forming my own opinion.
It has been about four years since the Parkland shooting and since my first experience hearing about a mass shooting. The sentencing of Cruz took place Nov. 2, when he was given life in prison without the chance of parole. Seeing this in the media brought me back to the sixth grade. I remember how deeply enraged I was and how this impacted my life, even though 3,000 miles separated me and the case.
On Oct. 24, two people were killed in a shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis, Missouri. The victims were Alexandria Bell, age 15, and Jean Kuczka, age 61. The gunman, whom I am choosing not to name, was carrying an AR-15 style weapon, 600 rounds of ammo, and 13 high-capacity magazines, all of which were legally purchased through a private seller, according to CNN. The gunman at the Parkland shooting was also carrying an AR-15-style weapon and was wielding five magazines of ammo, according to Fox4Now.
These recent events have won much attention from the media. They also have made me wonder if Americans are becoming desensitized to talk of school shootings because of normalization in the media. Growing up hearing about so many of these tragic events affects everyone differently.
Remembering discussions we had as freshmen, I wanted to talk with a few classmates about these recent events, wondering how their views had developed over the years.
Cole Lockart, an LHS junior, said that, to an extent, he sees our generation becoming more desensitized to talk of gun violence.
“I don’t know if it’s we are getting older and realizing that this is happening more or if it is something starting to happen more,” Lockart said. “When you’re a kid, you don’t pay attention to the news as much. [ . . . ] I don’t know if we are noticing it more because we are paying attention or if this is actually happening more often.”
Scout Alford, also a junior, talked with me and Lockart about the sense of safety on campus at LHS.
“We are so lucky to have a school that is created to be incredibly safe and literally built around the issue of security. We have Officer Massey who is trained to handle that stuff as well, but it’s definitely an issue,” Alford said.
“I feel safe, at least in this school; if I was somewhere else, probably not, and here I feel safe for sure,” said Lockart.
In St. Louis, the gunman who entered the high school had struggled since the doors at the point of his entry were locked. But he then entered the school from a point where there was no security. Unfortunately, even if school security officers they had been there, they were not armed and would have likely faced the same fate as those who died. The quick response of outside law enforcement stopped the violence within four minutes, but that wasn’t enough time to save the lives of Bell and Kuczka.
We at LHS are privileged to exist in a school where security and the safety of everyone are heavily considered. Not everyone in America can have such a privilege.
School should not be a place that children feel scared to attend; it should be a place of learning. The fact that thousands of people die yearly due to gun violence is horrifying. The fact that most acts of violence could have been prevented makes it even sadder.
It is hard to see America currently so divided on this issue instead of looking at the common problem that we all want to change. So much could be done to help prevent tragedies such as those in Parkland and St. Louis. Yet we do nothing.