Our school kids deserve more than the daily nightmare of a school shooting | Opinion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Our school kids deserve more than the daily nightmare of a school shooting

“They know this is their reality today. I hate it.”

I remember when the scariest thing in grade school was a tornado drill. We’d sit along the wall in the hallway, put our heads on the floor and curl up into a ball. In the small town I grew up in, there hasn’t been a tornado in decades. 

I couldn’t imagine being a student today. Mass shootings have become a very real threat that could happen at any time, and every student regardless of age knows it. 

A friend wrote a Facebook post last week about a conversation she had with her daughters on the way to school. They told her about the “intruder drill” they were having at school that day. The girl told her mother the step-by-step procedure she had to go through if a gunman entered the school and she was alone in the bathroom. “I know what to do,” the child said. “My teacher said to turn off the lights, lock the door, lock myself in a stall, scrunch myself on top of the seat so you can’t see me, and be quiet and wait till someone comes to get me.” 

The younger daughter, described a recent “scary” drill where students in the classroom were told to “shut off the lights and lock the door, then shove as much stuff as we can in front of the door. Then we go away from the door and windows, and hide behind things or under desks.” Their mother finished the post saying: “What bothered me most is that they were so matter-of-fact about it, like they know this is their reality today. I hate it. They deserve better.”

They do deserve better and, unfortunately, we live in a country that might not ever give it to them. That’s because our leaders believe the right to bear arms is more sacrosanct than a child’s right not to die during gym class. The gun-control demonstrations around the country led by students have been a fantastic example of individuals using their freedom to try to enact change. It was the type of uplifting experience that makes you think that maybe things can change. 

Maybe, but every time students are murdered and schools are violated, the aftermath seems to embolden pro-gun sentiments even more. The attacks on victims in the Parkland School District have been grotesque. These kids have been called “crisis actors,” and have been told to stop protesting and do something useful like learn CPR, so they can be ready to act as first responders the next time a shooter comes into their school and starts shooting classmates in the head. 

It’s thinking like this that makes me long for the good ol’ days when all you had to worry about killing you in school was the tornado that never came.

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