There have been an average of 10 mass shootings per week and over 5,400 people have died from gun violence so far this year in the United States. 2020 was the deadliest gun violence year in decades, with 610 mass shootings and nearly 20,000 gun violence related deaths. There is a high probability at least one mass shooting has occurred in the US on the day you are reading this, but how many people do you think know that? We as a country have collectively decided to sweep the tragic and terrifying levels of gun violence under the rug with hopes to stay in our fantasy land of ignorance for just a little bit longer.
We have lost hundreds of thousands of American students, neighbors, and friends to gun violence and yet classrooms continue to stop education at what to do when there is a school shooter. I, like most American students in public schools, have been participating in school shooter drills for long as I remember and know the eerie silence, the hushed snickers from fellow students while sitting in a dark classroom huddled together all too well. Our generation will never forget what it is like to not know if there really is a shooter at your school or if it is just a drill. Despite the overly traumatic nature of this common drill schools continue on with class as normal as soon as they end brushing past the fear that remains in many students.
It is irresponsible to do nothing past addressing the safety precautions we should follow. The real education and the real safety measures we should be taking exist past practice of being silent, but understanding mental health disorders and destigmatizing recognition and treatment of it, learning about gun reform, and addressing the very real fears students have. NUSD’s blatant negligence to talk about and educate students on gun violence reinforces the narrative that shootings are just tragic events we let slip by in this country. It is unacceptable that we have gotten to a point where gun reform has become a party issue, because as an American issue it will only get worse if we choose to ignore it. I hope that in the next few years NUSD makes active changes at all grade levels because this can and will affect all students. Discussion circles should be happening in classrooms after school shooter drills and education on why we do these drills should be taught beforehand. Conversations like these will be hard and uncomfortable but in this case we simply do not have a choice, they need to be made.