Gun Violence: Never again and again and again


Caoimhe Farris

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have already been 7,884 deaths by gun violence this year. Gun violence is a very big problem and better strategies need to be prioritized to stop the violence.

Caoimhe Farris, Staff Reporter

December 14, 2012. 20 Sandy Hook Elementary school students, children who’d likely only seen a gun in cartoons, came face to face with an atrocity they couldn’t possibly have understood. Six teachers made the ultimate sacrifice for students they dedicated their lives to. 20 kids between the ages of six and seven were shot and killed. 

February 14, Valentine’s Day, 2018. Students pour into the school through the doors, passing out valentines, chocolates and stuffed animals. Smiles on faces and hugs everywhere. That’s how the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School should have spent their day. No student should have to text their parents from underneath a desk, with the thought, “If anything happens to me, I love you” may be the last thing they say to them. 17 students and teachers died amongst their peers.

November 30, 2021. Three students of Oxford High School in Michigan hugged their parents for the very last time and left for school. Three students never went home. Eight more students and teachers were cursed with the knowledge of false security in a school classroom when they came face to face with a student, only 15 years old, with a gun and the intention of harming them. 11 students and teachers were shot and killed. 

We see these faces on the news and in movies and documentaries, but often fail to realize these people, these kids and teachers, had lives just like you and me. These kids had parents, and siblings who loved them more than words can describe. These teachers gave their whole lives to make these kids feel safe and wanted and prepared to go into the world. I remember coming home from school in 2018 and seeing the helicopter footage around Marjory Stoneman Douglas on the news and feeling sick to my stomach. Kids my age, my sister’s age, and my friends’ ages held their hands above their heads as they walked out of the school single file. Some cried and ran to their parents. The most heartbreaking parts were the faces of parents who kept waiting and waiting for their kids to come out and say they were okay, only for a stretcher with a blanket draped over to come rolling out of the building, or a police officer coming to deliver a parent’s worst nightmare.  

And what do we do in response to this? What do we do to prepare? We spend less than 10 minutes huddled in the back of a classroom with the lights off, heads down on phone screens, waiting for the announcement saying we can go back to class. Thoughts and prayers for a few days when the unspeakable happens for the 34th time that year, and then we move on until the next one. 

Why does it take 68 students and teachers in one year to die at the hands of another person in order for us to pay attention? There are warning signs that we choose to ignore because it never seems like it will happen to us until we become the next statistic and horror story on the news. It has only been two months since the year 2022 began and according to Gun Violence Archive, there have already been 7,884 deaths by gun violence this year. 

Rockwood has safety measures in place for events like an active shooter or an intruder. We talk about Evade Escape Engage and we have drills to teach us how to act when it happens, but during the 2021-2022 school year, I have only experienced 2 intruder drills. However, in the Sept 2021 edition of Rockwoods safety Report, an Action Item implemented by the Executive Director of Student Services, Terry Harris,  states that Rockwood schools are to “increase the frequency of intruder drills to ensure staff and students are knowledgeable and prepared for drill procedures.” This is a step in the right direction, but it’s here just a bit too late. This could be helpful for plenty of schools before it happens.

We should be preparing in ways that prevent it from happening at all instead of waiting for it to happen and dealing with it then.  That’s where more action items come in. In the section of the Rockwood Safety Report, SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL SECURITY: STAFF AND STUDENTS, a list of Action Items includes the requirement of trusted adults in the buildings called “champions”. This, in theory, is a great idea; however, when implemented, fails. Students interact with teachers throughout the building on a daily basis, but may never come to be comfortable with one.  Students could be tempted to just randomly choose a teacher in the survey, especially if they’re a freshman or they don’t know anyone yet.

Many students who end down the path of a school shooter tend to have very difficult lives or intense psychological issues. Loneliness, a lack of stability at home and at school and bullying are just a few of the many factors that can contribute to this. Teachers in particular are turning a blind eye to things like bullying, the psychological and mental health of students and other red flags. Rockwood is trying, that is true. But rules can be made and not followed. For instance, another action item implemented by Harris states schools are to, “increase anti-bullying efforts in our schools, include training, prevention and addressing bullying behaviors.” This can really help students in many ways, however, it’s up to the teachers now to follow through and use this to help.

It is incredibly important to understand that gun violence isn’t something we can just brush off. This isn’t a situation where you can think “it would never happen to me” because it can, and it happens to people just like us so often, that now the leading cause of trauma-related deaths in the US is gun violence, instead of car crashes. It’s irresponsible to assume this isn’t a gun issue and it’s irresponsible to assume this isn’t a mental health issue. There isn’t one cause of these things and we can not single out one cause. This is a problem that is affecting all of us, and if we don’t take action now, we will join the names in statistics on the news.