18 in 45

Yesterday’s shooting at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida became the 18th school shooting this year. We’re only 45 day into this year.

On April 20, 1999, there was a school shooting at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado. I was a junior in high school across the country in New York. This was before social media but I did have a beeper, which provided news headlines.

I was in social studies class when my beeper started buzzing. It continued over and over and although I glanced at it when I could, I didn’t really know what was going on until later in the day.

Once I got home, I learned that two students went to their school where they murdered 12 fellow students, 1 teacher, injured many more and instilled fear in everyone. That fear carried across the country.

Being in high school, it was a wake up call that anything could happen anywhere. My library was at the front of the school. If you went through the main entrance, you passed the library. I don’t think I told anyone at the time, but from the day we learned about Columbine forward, there was always a chill that went through me as I passed by the library. A nervousness of “what if it happens here?” A sadness for what those students went through. An anger for the new fear we were all living in. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one more on edge after that day.

This was a time before social media. We learned about things in a more delayed sense than we do now. We had to wait for the news to relay information. In 2018, we learn about things instantly. Yesterday, students were tweeting, snap chatting, texting and Facebooking their friends and family to tell them that there was a shooter in their school. No one should ever have to see messages like that.

Now we are 45 days into 2018 and there have been 18 school shootings and too many lives lost. I was listening to the radio this morning and the DJ lives in South Florida. His son attends a different school and asked him what he should do if it happens to him, does he run or does he hide? The DJ said he never thought he would have to answer a question like that. Why is this the new normal? There are shootings that have happened where 1 or 2 students have been killed that barely get any news coverage. One school shooting should have been too many. Columbine should have made such a difference in our society that kids wouldn’t be afraid to go to school, teachers wouldn’t need a plan in place for hiding their students if there was an active shooter and parents wouldn’t have to worry about receiving a message that their son or daughter is in danger.

This has become such a political issue. Why is there a debate over keeping our kids safe? There is literally nothing being done over and over. Everyone is becoming desensitized except those that live through it. There were students in Parkland yesterday tweeting from where they were hiding and receiving messages back from others that had “lived through it” providing support. Kids are providing other kids support about surviving a school shooting. This should be a bigger issue. 17 lives were taken yesterday. Instead of celebrating love on Valentine’s Day, 17 sets of parents have to go through something no parent should ever have to go through.

I don’t care about political backgrounds, I care about being a human being. In America, we should be keeping our kids safe and everyone safe. No one should be afraid to go to school, church or a concert. We should do better and be better as a country.

Lawmakers need to put politics aside, blaming others aside and as a human, work to protect other humans. Thoughts and prayers are nice, but they don’t fix a horrible ongoing national issue.


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