By Teddy McCrann, ’23
As a rising senior at Hanover High School, the earliest memory I have of a domestic terrorist attack in the form of a school shooting is Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. That day in Connecticut, 28 people were killed at the hands of a 20-year-old shooter, the majority of them aged six or seven years old. I was 7 years old at that time, and I am now 17. In those 10 years, there have been countless school shootings in America — too many — to the extent that they have become a regular occurrence. This is a significant issue in our country. To become desensitized to these attacks against children is something that I didn’t think could happen, but welcome to America. I am not here to bash our nation because I love living here and enjoy the freedoms we are granted; however, there needs to be a change.
On May 24, there was another school shooting , this time at Uvalde Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where 18-year-old Salvador Ramos horrifically killed 19 children and two adults. This is just unfathomable, and I cannot believe that someone was capable of committing such a heinous act against defenseless kids who were just going to school on a normal Tuesday. People across the country are pushing the government to institute change and prevent this from ever happening again, even though barely anything effective has been done to restrict gun laws in the past decade. The ability to purchase a firearm, especially if it is of the semi- or full-automatic class, at the age of 18 is ridiculous. The 18-year-old brain has not finished developing; if 18-year-olds in America cannot purchase alcohol due to their brains being underdeveloped, then how can they purchase deadly weapons? Considering that the majority of the recent shootings have been committed by assailants in their late teens and early 20s, it makes sense that guns should be more restricted by age to allow further development and maturing, among other reasons.
It is barely comprehensible that this school shooting comes just a week after the Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket attack, where an 18-year-old gunman targeted a Black community and killed 10 innocent people out of racial hate and prejudice. What is happening? The combination of these two events within such a short time proves that our society needs to make a change and actually do something about the unwarranted violence that we have experienced. The gravity of the chosen targets in these shootings is impactful; the Buffalo shooting occurred out of hate for Black Americans and extreme racism, and in Uvalde, young children were killed. This cannot keep happening in a nation that preaches “equality” and the promotion of peace, and it makes me afraid for our future.
Three of the most devastating shootings that I remember are Sandy Hook, Parkland in 2017, and now Uvalde. The fact that I can recall these events and see that nothing has been done between any of them to prevent more shootings is not something I am willing to accept. Parents of young kids in America are scared, as they think that their child’s school is next in this chain of attacks and deaths. Not only are parents scared, but students are too. What school is next? Do lockdown drills really help to ease the ominous cloud of a potential shooting? Or do they accentuate the bizarre reality we have accepted as a nation? Personally, lockdown drills have become routine and normal, which speaks volumes about the state of our nation. School is a place to learn and socialize, not somewhere to be afraid for our lives.
Speaking to fellow lawmakers the day after Uvalde, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy voiced frustration at witnessing another massacre like Sandy Hook. “What are we doing?” he implored of his colleagues. In recent years, the nation has done nothing to prevent school shootings, and this needs to stop, whether it be by enacting new gun laws or altering the process by which one obtains a firearm. I am not here to politicize the Uvalde shooting, but if something is not done about our outdated gun laws, then the future of our nation is in danger, as it has been for the past 10 years of my life.