Columbine 1999. 12 teenagers, one teacher dead. 20 injured.
Virginia Tech 2007. 32 college students and faculty dead. 17 injured.
Sandy Hook 2012. 20 children, six teachers dead.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas 2018. 15 teenagers, two teachers dead.
Countless individuals have lost their lives because simply went to work and school.
These people unknowingly spoke to their families for the last time. These innocent victims didn't get a chance to live their lives. Their families have been changed forever.
This is what it is like to grow up and live in America. We see innocent people die because they went to work and school. There is no reason why these individuals had to die. These are just four of the many mass shootings that have occurred in the last two decades in the United States.
An article by the Chicago Tribune estimates that "since 2000, there have been more than 188 shootings at schools and universities." The article continues and states that "more than 200 students have been killed. At least 200 more have been injured."
Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado shocked the country on April 20, 1999 when two male students went to school in trench coats and began shooting other students. That day, 13 people died and 20 people were injured. Those 33 people were physically hurt and the remainder of the school had to emotionally and mentally deal with the aftermath.
I was born in 1998 and for the majority of my life, school shootings have become frequent occurrences. In a post-Columbine era, generations are living in a time where instead of learning, we are being forced to learn how we can escape a shooter.
I remember being a kid and hearing about Virginia Tech. I was too young to really understand what happened. On April 16, 2007, 32 students and teachers died on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. A 23-year old male student locked the main doors of a building and went room to room shooting people.
There are moments in life where you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing. I vividly remember Dec. 14, 2012. I was a sophomore in high school and I had stayed home with my mom because I was sick. We were at the store when I started to get Twitter notifications on my phone.
On Dec. 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut once again shocked the world when a young man opened fire at an elementary school. 20 children and 6 teachers died. 20 children. 20 first-graders. How? Why?
I remember telling my mom and she was in shock. I remember crying in the aisle of the store shocked that this could happen in an elementary school. We proceeded to checkout and it appeared that everyone had seen the news. The other shoppers were glum and walked with their heads down.
The country was devastated. 20 children gone. 20 innocent children who did what we all did when we were first-graders; they went to school. Parents sent their children to school to learn. Parents sent their children to school and thought that they would be safe. This is what all parents hope for when their children go to school. Sadly, we live in a country where children may not be safe at school.
This was it, government officials would finally take action. Innocent people would not have to die anymore.
Wrong. 20 children and six teachers died and nothing changed.
Six years later and here we are again. We face a new school shooting, this time in Parkland, Florida. Another young man had opened fire and killed innocent people. 15 teenagers and two adults died on Wednesday Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The news of this school shooting was immediate. Once again, I received the dreaded Twitter notifications of the situation.
15 teenagers were planning for their future. 15 young men and women went to school and never returned home. 15 innocent children. These 15 people were someone's loved one. Each of these 15 teenagers had a life. Each of these 15 teenagers had a story and whose lives were cut short.
Two teachers helped save their students. Two teachers put their students lives before their own. Two men who put their lives on the line to protect their students. These two men had families. These men died heroes.
In this country it seems that an individual's right to bear arms has become more important than an individual's right to live.This is America. This is our country.
This is a country where you can't go to work and be safe.
You can't go to the mall.
You can't go to the movies.
You can't go to a concert.
You can't go to a club.
You can't even go to school.
This is what our country has become. You can't go anywhere and not think about what you would do if something happens.
I am constantly looking at my surroundings when I am out in public but especially when I walk around campus. Instead of relishing in the beauty of the scenery, I am focused on where I can go if something goes wrong.
After a threat had been made against my school, my mom once told me something that stays with me everyday. She said that she always looks to see what I am wearing, in case something happens, she can identify me. This is what it has come to. My mom has to prepare for the worst scenario on a daily basis.
Generations are growing up in a world where they have to learn at a young age what to do when there is an intruder. My 10-year old sister participates in these drills. There are pre-schoolers who go through these drills.
This is America. This is what our country has become, but it doesn't have to be this way. I don't want it to be this way.
I am tired of this unnecessary violence. I am tired of seeing innocent people die. I don't know anyone who has been affected by a mass shooting. I don't have to know them. I see their faces and wonder what they could have grown to be. I see parents and siblings describe the person they lost. I see their pain. I can feel their pain.
It can happen anywhere. It can happen at any time.
Children are dying. Teenagers are dying. Parents are dying. These are our people that are dying. They are our friends and neighbors, our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters, our aunts and uncles. They are people we have never met before. We see their faces. We know that they have people who love them. There are people who love them like our families love us.
It's time for a change, America. We are the students and we have a voice. We have a voice and we need to use it.
What is it going to take for our government officials to act? For them to do something rather than just sending their "thoughts and prayers."
No more. Not one more.
I want to live in a world where it is safe to live and be free. I encourage all of you to speak out.
Use your voice. Contact your representatives. Go out and vote. Learn what you can do to help stop gun violence.
No more. Act now.
Do it for yourselves. Act for those that you love and care for. Remember that it can happen to you. It can happen to anyone. It can happen at any time if we don't act now.