Last Tuesday, Feb. 14, marked five years since the devastating shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. There were 17 casualties that day. 

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 82 mass shootings in the United States  in 2023; that is 1.5 mass shootings per day. At the moment of writing this, 5,939 people have died at the hands of gun violence in 2023. We are 52 days into the year. 


On Dec. 14, 2012, I was in fifth grade. I remember going home with a family friend that day, as I did most Thursdays and Fridays. When we arrived home, my friend’s grandmother turned the news on. It seemed something bad had happened, but I wasn’t sure what. 

My mother picked me up later. In the living room that night, she turned the TV off and asked if we could talk. I was confused. 

She tried her best to explain to her 10-year-old daughter the tragedy that had occurred just hours before at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

She pleaded that I would always keep my small cell phone on me. She didn’t care if a teacher told me I couldn’t have it; it was to always remain on me in case of an emergency. That’s why she had allowed me to have one anyway. 

I know she didn’t want to scare me. Her efforts to prepare me and keep me safe were the least scary things that would come in my time at public schools in the United States. 

There would be more shootings. At malls, movie theaters, churches, and more schools. 


With more shootings came more drills. Each classroom had a different spot we would go to hide in the event of a shooter. We’d try to be out of the view of any windows. We’d try to be quiet.


On Feb. 14, 2018, I was in tenth grade. My friends and I worked on our homework while in our math class. Suddenly, the teacher asked us to put our homework away. There was a tragedy unfolding in Florida. Our whole school was trying to figure out what was happening. It seemed obvious that the situation was not under control, and there we were, seated in our classrooms just like the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had been just moments before. We didn’t get much math homework done that day. 

In the following weeks, there was a mandatory assembly at school. The school resource officer showed a powerpoint presentation in which he instructed us to ignore the protocols we had been practicing for years in our active shooter drills. He explained that we would still practice those protocols routinely, but if something really happened, our lives were basically in our own hands. “Just run,” he said. 


Now it is 2023. Five years have passed since the Parkland shooting. 10 since Sandy Hook. Just a week after the Michigan State mass shooting. 

I might be a college student now, but the fear persists. It doesn’t matter that I made it out of public school without experiencing one of these tragedies. The reminders have followed me to college. They will follow me after college. 

Unless we do something, they will follow our future children too. 


I am not a legislator. I don’t know exactly what the answer is. Frankly, it seems impossible to start thinking about what the answer could be. But I am still a student and I have felt the fear for almost my entire school career. We have seen so many people lose their lives as a result of gun violence. 

When is it enough? 


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