“Breaking News: The shooter ‘methodically and deliberately’ fired at students. A timeline of a school shooting tragedy”: When I first read this CNN headline, I was saddened yet unsurprised that people my age are once again suffering from not a tragedy—but a reality. Ethan Crumbley, 15, is accused of shooting students at Oxford High School in Michigan on Nov. 30 and is now charged as an adult on charges including terrorism and murder. His parents, James and Jennifer, are charged with involuntary murder for supplying him with the weapon.
The latest school shooting headline is familiar to my generation, a generation all too familiar with seeing our peers and classmates dying at the hands of an armed individual. Sandy Hook High School’s shooting in 2012 was the first school shooting I was ever grown enough to process, even if I did not and still do not fully understand why someone would deliberately slaughter others. A decade and many cries for radical change later, we still have not changed this narrative of students dying in a supposedly safe school environment.
Gun Laws Need to Be Stricter
I hate to say it, but I am numb to seeing events like this occur. It’s the new norm for what it means to grow up in the United States. According to USA Today, 29 schools across 19 states have been affected by a school shooting in 2021 alone. Without any government change in either gun control or the proper way to handle student safety, events like this can and will keep occurring. The mentally ill and unstable have access to a weapon that could take away lives. Background checks (if not the complete outlaw of firearms to the public) need to become stricter to ensure the safety of our youth.
I am afraid I will be the next headline. I am afraid of my friends becoming the next headline. I am afraid of my younger cousins and siblings becoming the next headline.
Don’t Feel Sorry For Us. Protect Us.
School is many kids’ safe haven from home. Now, home is their safe haven from school. Gen Z, my generation, only knows the possibility of death and shootings at school. Therapy will never fix the wounds on the victim’s mental wellbeing. Many adolescents will suffer from fear for the rest of their life — the fear of loud popping sounds or large crowds. It is a nice gesture for adults to feel sorry for us but sorry doesn’t mean anything when the adults do not change their behaviors and attitudes towards shootings.
Listen to your own advice. Since we were small children, you have told us to not say sorry for actions we keep repeating. So why do you do this to us? Why do you let us suffer at the hands of weapons so easily accessible to the public? I understand that it is a Constitutional right within the Second Amendment to bear arms, but the Constitution was ratified in 1791, almost 300 years before they could see the chaos in our school systems today. Back then, guns were single chamber weapons that had to be reloaded after a single shot, while the modern assault weapon sprays dozens of bullets before needing to be reloaded. With our technology today, our gun laws are outdated.
“Will I Be Next?”
I beg school systems, governors and parents, please do not let me or my peers be the next to die at the hands of a school shooting. Please, do not make me keep wondering, “Will I be next?” We, the youth, should not have to be the heroes, saving other teens, children, and teachers, in events that should not have even occurred.
To every family suffering because of gun violence, I am sorry you have not gotten your justice. The justice that you never should have had to feel this pain.
Let’s all remember the 170 schools this year alone threatened by both active and non-active shooter gun violence.
Above mugshots of suspected Oxford High School shooter Ethan and his parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley from Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.