Opinion | Students have no reason to feel safe from gun violence while in school

On May 24, America was faced with yet another story regarding gun violence. This time, children were the victims. Forty one days later, our neighbors in Highland Park were also victims of a mass shooting. 

In Uvalde, Texas, at Robb Elementary School, we lost 19 students and two teachers. In Highland Park we lost seven possible mothers, fathers, grandparents, husbands, wives, neighbors, friends and so much more. We’ve lost people with bright futures and big dreams. 

Dismay, hopelessness—those are the only words I could use to describe the feeling of hearing about yet another mass shooting in America. However, I also couldn’t help but feel like this is unsurprising. In my short 16 years of life, I have arguably seen more mass shootings in the U.S. than my parents did growing up. School shootings between 2020 and 2021 skyrocketed to the highest number in two decades. This cannot be our new norm. 

As a high school student, I can easily say that I live in fear while at school due to the threat of gun violence. But I’m not scared to admit this because I am well aware that others share the same feeling. 

In 2020, the U.S. had a total of 10 school shootings with injuries or deaths. In 2022 so far, the U.S. has had a total of 27 school shootings with injuries or deaths, and this number is still sadly rising considering the year is not over. 

I wanted to point out specifically the years 2020 and 2022, because 2020 was  the year when quarantine began, and 2022 is the year when youth were fully in-person for school. To think that the only time we’ve been safe from school shootings in the 21st century occurred when a global pandemic began is just so frustrating to even think about. 

Junior Sophia Robles voices her thoughts and feelings on gun violence within the Evanston community and outside of it. 

“It’s extremely disappointing and saddening. You hear about these shootings on the news, and the lives that are lost, and my heart breaks for the families, the people whose lives were lost and those closest to the victims”, Robles says.

Disappointment is a mutual feeling. As a student in America, it’s almost as if you’re one of the least cared for groups in this country. Guns are more protected than we are, and we’re supposed to just be ok with it? Other countries are flabbergasted by how neglected and unprotected children are in American schools. School is a place where kids should feel the most safe and  the most protected. We’ve failed at this. 

“I do not think Evanston does a better job of handling gun violence than other cities,” points out Robles, “We may be a small suburban city, but it does not change the fact that we are not doing enough.”

Is Evanston not doing enough to protect its students? Sure, there have not been any school shootings in our community, but it doesn’t hide the fact that maybe we do need more protection in our schools. 

Back in December of 2021, I’m sure we can all remember the nearly three-hour lockdown that occurred. For hours, students and teachers were left without a clue as to what was going on within ETHS. It was petrifying to sit in silence crouching against a classroom wall, and even though we all left the school unharmed, I couldn’t help but wonder if there were other times when students carried guns into our high school but didn’t get caught. How many other people are carrying guns into our high school? It’s a fearful question that remains in my mind, and it won’t be going away as long as I remain a student in the U.S. I hope that we’re all able to see what’s desperately needed in a country like ours. Children should be protected, and Americans should not live in fear. Whether it’s going to the grocery store, attending school, attending a parade, nobody should be terrified to do so. Things like this should never be up for debate. 

I hope that, one day, we come to a realization that a life is the most precious, most valued thing one can obtain, and we certainly cannot continue to take them away.