Paranoia should be canceled

“It is insensitive to go on with a game that promotes the use of fake guns when a place so close to home is feeling the impact of real gun violence”

Mary Plotner

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Mary Plotner

Nerf guns like these will be used to play Paranoia this year. The game is a fun tradition, but it’s time to end it.

Paranoia, the game where teams of seniors try to “assassinate” each other with NERF guns,  is a fun tradition for the senior class. Students have been enjoying it for years, and this year’s contest is just about to start.

However, there is a reality that is growing stronger with each year: The continuous rise in school shootings and gun violence in our nation. As these threats happen closer and closer together, it starts to impact everything we do and how we live our lives. 

Although the Paranoia has good  intentions, it still is implicitly promoting the use of firearms. This fact is normally brushed over, but because of the realistic threat of an incident at any time, even here at LFHS, it is something everyone should be thinking about. A conversation needs to be had for the safety and sensitivity of all community members.

After Tuesday’s lockdown at Highland Park High School following the report of a student on campus with a gun, their own Senior Assassin game was canceled hours later. This incident comes exactly nine months to the day since the Fourth of July shooting at the local parade in the heart of town, where seven people were killed and 48 injured.

In the wake of recent school shootings, is the traditional Paranoia game insensitive?

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The lockdown and threat at the high school is like a punch to an open wound. I found  myself questioning our own game. Are we considering all perspectives?

I decided, on the night of the lockdown, to resign from my own Paranoia team. It is insensitive to go on with a game that promotes the use of fake guns when a place so close to home is feeling the impact of real gun violence. 

Since no politician will pull the trigger on passing laws to keep us safe, the trigger must be pulled here in our schools and communities. The least we can do is support one another, listen, and learn. We can show respect and stand together in solidarity by holding off on the games. At the end of the day it’s just a game. Is it really worth it?

In October of this school year, a bullet was found in our library. This incident was addressed, but still left community members feeling unsettled. Later, a graffitied map was found in a school bathroom, with a potential location for a school shooter labeled. Now more than ever, we need to be respectful and consider how community members are impacted by the threat of violence.

Pretending to shoot each other in a game when students are actually losing their lives to gun violence is a problem. It is uncomfortable to play this game when schools and communities face the real life version of the game, unjustly due to the lack of change. 

This is hard to talk about, but it is offensive and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Playing the game paranoia directly ignores the loss that so many have to face due to gun violence. There should be consideration for how communities that are affected by gun violence feel. Just because something isn’t directly affecting you, doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. 

One solution: Some schools use water guns or water balloons, balloons sounding like a completely better option. We can still enjoy the game without using fake guns. 

If this is not alarming enough of a situation to spike change, only when the majority of this country faces a gun in their own hallway, will a productive conversation happen. Until then, our headlines will continue to read, “Mass Shooting (enter your town or school name here).