Do you know what it is like to enter school the day after yet another deadly school shooting?
I am a 15-year-old high school sophomore, and I am part of the "mass-shooting generation." Gun violence is a huge part of my generation and I have never known going to school without lock-down or active-shooter drills.
I started practicing lock-down drills when I was 5. In kindergarten, teachers told students they were hiding in case a bear tried to get into the classroom, but by the time I was in third grade, most of us had figured out what we were really practicing for.
Later, after 20 first graders and six of their teachers were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary, the experts figured out that once a shooter was in the school, just locking down and hiding under our tables could make us easier targets, and that the likelihood of survival would increase if we knew how to lock down, escape and fight back. By the time I was in seventh grade, our drills changed from passive lock-down drills to non-passive, active-shooter drills.
I have now been trained to be a front line of defense if the next mass shooting is ever at my school. And now some lawmakers have proposed training students in emergency medical triage as well. There is already a lot to deal with as a teenager. On top of all that, each time I enter a new classroom, I must consider where I can hide, where the nearest exit is, what objects are available to throw to protect myself and how to save a classmate from bleeding out.
Each time I enter a new classroom, I must consider where I can hide, where the nearest exit is, what objects are available to throw to protect myself and how to save a classmate from bleeding out.
Instead of passing laws to reduce gun violence and protect students, those elected to represent us have chosen to ignore the issue and have put the burden of protection on the students and teachers. We are tired of being scared for our safety and lawmakers not fixing the problem of gun violence to protect us. So, we are now speaking out to try to change the future of gun violence in this country, both for ourselves and for the generations to come.
Washington's Initiative 1639
Initiative 1639's supporters believe that the right to own a gun should not be a right to irresponsibly store the gun, giving a child easy access to play with it and accidentally shoot, injure or kill themselves or another.
We believe that the right to own a gun should not be a right to keep it unsecured and allow a depressed teen or young adult to get ahold of it and, in a state of temporary desperation, end their life.
We believe that the right to own a gun should not be a right to store it irresponsibly and allow yet another teenage boy who is angry at a girl to get a hold of that weapon and go into a school or party and kill her and other students.
School shootings and the increase in teen suicide are two main reasons that the Alliance for Gun Responsibility is sponsoring an initiative to the people called I-1639: Safe Schools, Safe Communities.
This initiative will directly address gun violence by:
- Requiring secure storage of firearms: helping to prevent children, teens and other “unauthorized users” from having access to a deadly weapon.
- Increasing the minimum age allowed to buy a semi-automatic rifle to 21, the same minimum age required to legally purchase a handgun.
- Creating an enhanced background check, 10-day waiting period and requirements for firearm safety training.
These are all simple measures that will work together to protect against another school or mass shooting — BEFORE it happens!
I may be too young to vote, but you can. On election day I am asking you to vote "yes" on Initiative 1639: Safe Schools, Safe Communities. Visit The Alliance for Gun Responsibility to learn more, donate or volunteer.
Editor's note: This essay originally appeared as a Letter to the Editor on MyEdmondsNews.com. It is republished here with permission.