The author at the White House. Photo courtesy of Miriam Antonio.
Fairfax Senior High School

I shouldn’t have to worry about guns

I found out that there had been a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon during my high school law class. I felt goosebumps and my heart drop as my stomach tied into knots. I was both in shock, and angry disbelief. I couldn’t believe that there had been another mass shooting in our country. As a student this appalling incident resonated with me. I could not stop thinking that these were students just like me, some older, but all with the same purpose of getting an education. They had dreams and aspiration just like me.

A few weeks earlier I was sitting in the same law school class when my school went into lockdown. The class was about to be over when through the speakers there came a voice demanding we stay in our seats and for the teachers to lock the door. There had been a bank robbery right next to our school and the suspect was allegedly armed. I remember being very nervous as I sat in my chair right beside the door. It was an involuntary reaction for me to start thinking of past school shootings. The thought that someone armed could enter my school was horribly frightening.

According to MSNB’s website, U.S. mass public shootings per year have rose steadily since 1970 before reaching a high of 4.5 from 2010 to 2013. The evidence that these numbers continue to grow can be seen in the mass shootings that continue to occur. Nobody ever thinks it can happen to them, but yet neither do any innocent victims of shootings. Death by guns is not a natural death and it is something that could definitely be prevented if there were more gun regulations. There are many countries that can be used as models to show how by regulating guns deaths by guns can be prevented; it’s that simple. According to Business Insider Politics’s website, countries like Japan that have strict gun regulations have gun homicides ranging in the one and two digits per year. These numbers highly differ from the U.S yearly homicide rate whose digits go above four according to Fact Check’s website. The reality is that the United States has developed an epidemic of gun violence. If we don’t stop it more innocent lives could be lost. Enough is enough.

I will never get used to that frightening feeling walking through my own neighborhood. The eight years that I have lived in my neighborhood there have been two shootings on my street and multiple deaths including a policeman. There are gang members who hang around neighborhoods like mine and these are the kind of people who use guns; this makes me sick to the stomach. I shouldn’t have to worry about leaving my house and walking the streets to go to the library. There’s a constant feeling of insecurity that I get when walking through those streets; I grasp my bag tightly and always look at my surroundings with the fear of drive-bys. This type of unsafe feeling is something many other young people who live in my neighborhood know well.

I have a younger brother who attends high school around the area and I always worry about his safety. There is a big difference between my brother’s school location and my school’s location. I attend a high school in the Hollywood area. I tend to feel a bit safer around this area because I see more police patrols. My brother’s school on the other hand is in an area where police patrol is not seen as much and where it is not unusual to hear gun shots.

It shouldn’t be that students feel unsafe to be at school. School should be a safe environment where students can learn and feel safe. It is wrong that we students now have to worry about the possibility of a school shooting especially when the recent school shootings haven’t been gang related. Gang related shootings are different in the way that the guns they use are obtained illegally and the guns with which most shootings have been done are legally registered firearms.

I want to live in a society where I feel safe to walk the streets of my neighborhood and not encounter a shooting. I want to be able to attend school and not have to worry about a school shooting. Everyone wants to feel safe; nobody wants to lose a loved one, especially to a shooting and especially when we could help prevent this by not making guns so common and implementing as well as enforcing strict gun regulations.