Are You There Congress? It’s Us, America

What happens when our thoughts and prayers can only get us so far?

I never thought that I would have to fear for my life while in high school.

My entire fifth period class was rehearsing for our choir concert on the stage of our auditorium. Unbeknownst to us at the time, our principal had received a threatening phone call minutes before we had picked up our sheet music and sang our first notes.

Over the intercom it was announced that our school was in a lock-down with intruder or interior threat. I was in shock as my choir teacher calmly ushered us all into the scene shop that was tucked in the corner of the auditorium stage. Our school had had numerous lock-down drills and although they were put in place to prepare us for moments like this, it seemed hard to believe that one day we would actually have to put that practice to test.

After securing all of the doors our teacher began to take attendance. Names were quietly being called as the sense of fear grew. It was very clear that this was unexpected and not a drill. The teachers present kept a close eye on their emails as we waited for directions. I took out my phone and began drafting text messages to my parents and friends. I never thought that I would have to quickly reduce all of my fear, appreciation, and love into a series of messages, as I sat on the cement floor of my high school’s scene shop.

Suddenly, the handle to the door of the scene shop began to rattle. My choir teacher signaled us to be quiet and barricaded himself in front of it to keep it shut. I looked towards another exit door and jumped towards it. My initial thought was, “If that’s the intruder, they can get me trying to get to safety. I won’t let them kill me standing still.”

My feet touched the ground as the door opened and revealed another teacher and a police officer. Our class was next to be evacuated and we were safe.

Looking back over a year and a half later, my literal leap of faith is pretty comical to me. We were one of the many schools across the country that received the same bomb threat via phone call. There was no active shooter and technically no active threat. Everyone safely returned to their families that afternoon. We were lucky that day.

But unfortunately, that was not the case for the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, last Wednesday.

The resilience and the determination that the survivors of that massacre have is a remarkable example of the human condition. Despite some having to witness their teachers and classmates fall in front of them, they are committed to being vocal about taking actions to make schools safer and to enact stricter laws around gun violence.

Students have called for rallies, walkouts, and marches to protest our government’s inaction to fight this nationwide issue and to make it clear that student safety should be a top priority in this country.

“Every kid in this country now goes to school wondering if this day might be their last. We live in fear.” writes March For Our Lives, a group that is organizing a march in Washington D.C., scheduled for March 24, on their website. Why should our children have to fear a place where they’re meant to feel safe?

The problem of gun violence in our country cannot be solved by arguing that our real problem lies within the country’s lack of religion or respect. It cannot be solved by refuting every supporter of the NRA with poorly fact-checked crime statistics from other countries.

This issue cannot be solved without the support of our government.

Parents should not have to keep burying their children. Our nation’s teachers should not have to become human shields to protect students from a rainstorm of bullets. Students should not be afraid to go to school. How many more vigils and memorials do we have to plan before we realize that enough is enough?

You’ve heard our screams and seen our cries.

 

Congress, it’s your move.