Letter: Me next?
On any regular school day at 2:21 p.m., I am nearing the end of my last class, AP Microeconomics. The class is on the second floor of the Seminary Building, the oldest, most central building on our campus. Often, when students are leading tours of Burr and Burton Academy, we'll walk up one of the two main stairwells stop on the second floor and point out the original dormitory floorboards intersecting with the newer wing of the building. AP Micro is immediately to the left of that stairwell, the first class you come across. And if, like at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week, an active shooter entered the building at 2:21 p.m., and ran up the stairs, shooting indiscriminately, I might be one of the first killed.
Kids shouldn't get shot in the stomach during class. But in the United States, they do. According to a Washington Post analysis, over 150,000 students have experienced a school shooting on their campus since the Columbine massacre in 1999. 156 kids have died from gun violence this year alone, and it's only February. Last week, 31 miles from Manchester, that list almost grew longer. Eighteen-year-old Jack Sawyer, a former student of Fair Haven Union High School, had already bought a 12-gauge shotgun and ammunition, and done "extensive planning" for a mass shooting there.
I would wager that nearly every student (and certainly every teacher) has considered the scenario I described above unfolding at Burr and Burton. I love my school and above all its faculty, and I have complete faith that they and our administration will do everything within their power to protect students. But that wouldn't be enough. Stoneman Douglas High School had an armed sheriff's deputy on duty, a formal procedure for teachers in the event of a shooting, and so many lockdown and active shooter drills that "the kids were tired of hearing about it." This still wasn't enough for fourteen teenagers and three teachers. Unless we turned our school into a prison, any active shooter who can buy semi-automatic rifles could take lives.
One of the most idiotic ideas I have heard yet is arming teachers to defend against such a shooting. This idea is so tempting - and so dangerous - because at face value, it seems so American: one armed good guy playing the hero and taking down the ultimate force of evil, an active school shooter. But to think that you, a civilian, alone, can take down a desperate, armed, usually manic individual with no regard for their own life, is the ultimate act of hubris.
If you, after Marjory Stoneman Douglas, after Sandy Hook, after Aurora, after Las Vegas, still think that AR-15 assault rifles are an important asset to civilian society, understand that this is the tradeoff. This is the sacrifice. Sometimes in the news, every other month or so, you will read about the murder of twenty first-graders. Or fourteen students and a football coach and a geography teacher and an athletic director. Or forty nine young adults looking for a night out with their loved ones. Is that something you're comfortable with? Is your ownership of a weapon of war worth it?
I stand in solidarity with the young survivors of the Parkland shooting in saying enough is enough. I could die tomorrow in a shooting and Congress would not lift a finger; it is up to us students to force the issue upon them. That's why I urge every member of our community, but especially my fellow students, to attend the March for Our Lives on March 24th in Washington, D.C. or any other major city. If we do nothing, as we have since Columbine, more and more of us will die.
The author is a student at Burr and Burton Academy.
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