No. Not here. This can’t be real? Are these texts really happening?
Looking out my window I can see police cars streaming onto campus. The report came from a residence hall next to mine. People are running outside. In the hall, students are scrambling into rooms. The lounge next to me has been barricaded by the students inside. Furniture once used for studying, now acts as a shield against potential danger. In the minute since the text was sent, an eerie silence shrouds the area.
As I tighten shoe laces, unsure if I’ll need to run, I send quick messages—that I never imagined writing—to close friends and family. Calls to-and-from fellow students across campus update one another of our individual status. A girl, who ran inside my building for safety is stranded in the hallway. Peering through cracks and peepholes, the sounds of pounding heartbeats echo though the silence.
With more cops on campus and silence continuing, a sense of safety gradually arrises. A few doors reopen and people glance around corners to try and get a better understanding of the situation. After 20 minutes, an update is sent with “no indication of a shooting.” Another 30 minutes pass before a final “all clear” is sent. The report was a false alarm.
This is America.
The issue is not only that a student felt a realistic concern that shoots were fired on a college campus, but also that students knew how to react and prepare for their safety.
What prepares you to run and shelter for safety?
What trains you to barricade doors and windows with furniture?
What inspires you to send what might be a final text to friends and family?
How have we allowed the fear for our lives against the potential treat of gun violence dictate our lives?
How is that we have reached a point in our society where it is more reasonable to construct schools that are designed for active shooters than it is to deconstruct the systemic problems of guns in America?
Growing up, guns were an everyday part of my childhood. At age 5, I remember going to the creek near my grandparent’s house to learn how to aim my BB gun at various objects floating down stream. By middle school, I remember being in Cub and Boy Scout rifle competitions for “sharp shooting.” In high school, it wouldn’t be uncommon for friends and I to go to an open-country field and haphazardly fire shotguns.
I write all of this to say that I know, understand, and appreciate gun ownership, and moreover understand the need for proper regulation and restriction.
To hammer my point more clearly, when my grandfather died, he left a wide variety of guns to me. As there was no “bill of sell,” I looked online and even called the local police department to try and register the guns in my name. The officer on the other end simply chuckled and said, “That wouldn’t be necessary.” Had my grandfather left me a car, I can assure you that the insurance company, license bureau, and local government would have found it very necessary for me to register the new vehicle in my name.
Yet, here we are at a place and time in America where it is easier to purchase a weapon than it is to purchase and operate a vehicle.
How many more active shooter incidents do we need before America finally does something?
How many more people need to die before laws are changed?
How many tables do I need to pile against the window to stop the next bullet from hitting me?
How many prayers will it take for my mom and friends to know that in the silence of my darkened room that I love them?
How many hands need to be raised as people run for their lives out of buildings to vote for change to occur?
How much longer do we have until the “all clear” is finally sent and Americans no longer need to fear for our lives?