The school shooting could have been at our school, writes high school freshman Anabel Moore. She urges leaders to act.
“Are we quiet today because of what happened in Florida?” my fifth-period English teacher asked our class, on that Thursday. Normally, our class would be bustling and full of energy as we prepared to turn in our creative writing assignment, due the next day.
Yes, we replied. Yes, because it could have been us. It could have been our school, our kids, our town being called out as the latest backdrop of mass carnage.
As I walked through the halls during passing period later that day, I saw hundreds of faces, all different: of varying colors, backgrounds, interests, tastes.
But do I think that one of them will walk into my next class and shoot me? Or perhaps pull a fire alarm to draw me outside, along with the 1,500 other adolescents I call my peers? No, I don’t. Or, at least, I didn’t.
I now walk cautiously because I could have gone to Parkland. I could have seen the shooter every day — knowing his troubled reputation but not how it was formed — until he was expelled for reasons I wouldn’t know. Then I would have thought that I shouldn’t worry about it because the adults in charge would take care of the situation, as they told me they would.
I would walk down the hall every day, like normal, until a fire alarm rang out, and think to myself that someone accidentally set their lab notes ablaze in the science wing — again. Only when I am outside, in one of 50 alphabetical rows, a monster with a gun he shouldn’t have begins to fire, fire, fire — 17 times until 17 faces have been lost.
I can see myself there, because Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is just like mine: big, sprawling, packed with kids who I know are struggling, kids who have been told the adults will keep them safe from harm, adults who tell them it will never happen here.
But how can I know? How can I know what will happen when a misfit student is expelled? Will that student buy a semi-automatic rifle? Legally? How can I know that it won’t be my innocent friends who are next?
For too long, the adults in charge have said, “We’ll do it tomorrow, next month, next term.” The issue of gun control is so multifaceted, constitutionally and politically complex, so conflicting we’ll just leave things be.
On behalf of all students: your due date is here. Change needs to be turned in not tomorrow, but today.
So here’s an assignment to the leaders of this country: look at your children, who you send to school each day in hopes that their minds will be filled with knowledge, and think about how you would feel if each day their minds were filled with fear, fear of what could have been or could be? Chew on that, and then decide whether or not you choose to protect them — to protect us.
After all, you don’t want to turn in an assignment after it’s too late to get credit.