WWhen I was a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a gunman broke into my school and killed 17 people. I hid in a closet afraid of being next. As a survivor of a mass shooting, your trauma begins to haunt you all over again every time another shooting occurs and is reported in the media. This was the case recently when a gunman stormed Robb Elementary School in Texas last week, killing 21 people: 19 children and two teachers.
After the Parkland shooting, we heard many chants such as “never again” and “enough.” At times, I felt like we were about to change, such senseless tragedy could be the catalyst for gun reform. There was no shortage of protesters or anger.
Four years have passed since then. Nothing has changed. There are still kids being killed in their schools like Texas. This year alone, there have been 27 school shootings in the United States. Schools must feel safe. They are meant to be places where you can learn, grow and thrive as a person. Children simply cannot focus on their education when they live in real fear of being killed.
There was a lot of momentum after Columbine in 1999; After Sandy Hook in 2012; And to Parkland in 2018. but Lawmakers in positions of power have failed to protect us or make tangible progress on gun reform. We urgently need policy changes to prevent another shooting like the one that happened in Texas last week. How many people must die before something can be done to save lives?
The United States is the only rich country in the world with minimal gun laws, where our politicians leave children to die without interference. In many US states, you can buy a gun in less than an hour. In other countries where mass shootings occurred, gun control measures were implemented almost immediately. Less than a month after the Christchurch, New Zealand shooting, Parliament voted unanimously to introduce a nationwide ban on semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles. Why can’t America follow suit?
Assault rifles and similar weapons should be banned. Background checks and a mental health check must be done before a person can purchase a gun. A national arms registry should be established. The majority of citizens want some form of gun control, but our laws and regulations only reflect the opinion of a minority that places gun rights on people’s lives and lobbyists who value only profit.
If you survive a mass shooting, the trauma stays with you. When other mass shootings happen and are covered in the media, the trauma you are going through begins to haunt you again. Re-traumatization affects your body both mentally and physically.
School shootings have a long-lasting impact on survivors and their communities. They change you as a person and change the course of your life. Being exposed to such trauma at a young age not only affects your mental health but also your brain development. Mentally, it can be hard to feel safe anywhere. You may have to deal with constant panic and anxiety. Constantly searching for a safe place to hide or an escape route in every new room you enter becomes exhausting.
This type of trauma can be physically demanding, draining your body and cause health problems such as chronic fatigue and body aches. It can also change the way you interact with the world around you. It can be hard to explain your trauma to new people you meet, and it can be hard to control your emotions when simple things can trigger those memories.
After countless mass shootings, I am starting to lose hope that we will ever be safe from shootings in the United States. Citizens need to get out and vote for lawmakers who will place gun controls. We must all show that we care about ending these tragedies by holding our politicians to account. It’s not just those in power – the average American needs to get involved and speak up for what’s right, too. Otherwise, they themselves – or their children – may one day become victims of armed violence.
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