The following is an op-ed by columnist Elizabeth Porter for her column, “The Final Word.” All of the opinions and viewpoints expressed within the article are solely that of the author and may not reflect the beliefs of The Forest Scout newspaper.
We’re 45 days and 18 school shootings into 2018. That’s a shooting every 2.5 days, so two shootings every school week.
You don’t want to “politicize it,” fine. Let’s humanize it.
Seventeen people were murdered at a high school on Wednesday. Imagine if that was your school– you would probably know one of those people. Your parents would frantically leave work to drive home and pick you up, like those parents did. They would desperately await your texts promising that you’re okay. You would never forget the sound of gunshots ringing through the hallways of your school, which was supposed to be a safe place. You would cower in a corner and text your loved ones and wonder if this was how you were going to die. You would never forget the image of the blood of your classmates and the broken windows and then the police tape. Just like those 3,000 teenagers whose lives were irreversibly changed this week and the 17 people whose lives were stolen from them.
Apathy surrounding mass shootings is dangerous. American teenagers are so desensitized, we don’t react strongly anymore, and that’s really sad. Every time the news alert pops up on our cell phones, we’re not even surprised.
When the infamous Columbine shooting happened in 1999 the nation was shocked. It was unprecedented in modern memory. Now it seems like another week in the news cycle. We have to remember that even though these stories feel more normal by the day, they’re not. Not in other countries, not in the US a few decades ago, and hopefully not in our future.
If Americans aren’t safe at school, or a church, or a movie theater, or a concert, where are they safe? Gun violence has permeated every place in our society. But it doesn’t have to be a political issue, it can simply be a human issue. No one wants gun homicides, suicides, and mass shootings to occur. No one wants their school/church/movie theater/concert/neighborhood to be the next to appear in national news. There are ways to prevent such tragedies and allow law-abiding people to own guns. Those don’t have to be mutually exclusive. People just have to be willing to talk about it, and never let it become normal.
So, while politicians send their prayers, let’s send something even better: a dedication to meaningful change.