I was a senior in high school.
I was thriving, living my “best life” preparing to make the trip to Raleigh in the fall to attend North Carolina State University. I was making lasting memories with my classmates. I was cherishing time with them because over the years I learned some of the adults were right: there were some people I’d never see again.
Nothing special was supposed to happen April 20, 1999. It was a regular day in my schedule. Classes, passing notes with friends, lunch off campus and home after school. I’m not sure why I didn’t have track practice that day. Maybe I did. What I do remember is that I arrived home earlier than usual.
I greeted my grandparents as I entered the house then walked down the hall into my mother’s room. I remember her barely looking up as me as she sat stoic on her bed, eyes focused on the television.
No words came flowing out of her mouth, which was odd. I was always greeted with a hey and a how was your day. I begin to think, what had her in a trance? Why was she so fixated on the tv? Why was she so quiet?
As I turned my eyes towards the tv, the answer emerged immediately.
15 dead including two shooters at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
A gasp escaped. I now knew why there was silence from my high school administrative mother.
I blinked fast thinking this can’t be real.
12 kids dead. Kids my age, dead. Dead because schoolmates of theirs killed them. No way.
Columbine was gut wrenching.
The media coverage. The wailing from those who lost their children. The piercing cries of teenagers who watched their friends die. The panic attacks from those who played dead so they could live.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
This was really happening.
As the days passed, more details emerged. The more I heard, the more I allowed myself to be convinced that this was an isolated incident. A one in a million type incident. It was awful. However, it was an incident I only expected to happen, one time.
Then April 16, 2007 happened. Virginia Tech happened.
Then December 14, 2012 happened. Sandy Hook. My God. Those babies.
Then February 14, 2018 happened.
Between April 21, 1999 and March 15, 2018 there have been 25 school shootings.
That is 25 too many.
It wasn’t supposed to happen anymore after Columbine.
Surely, we can find a way to stop this after Virginia Tech, I said.
The babies. The babies. The babies. The babies were slaughtered. This has got to trigger an aggressive response, I thought to myself after Sandy Hook.
Again?! My reply on Valentine’s Day of this year.
Enough is enough. And enough has been enough for almost two decades. But enough hasn’t been enough for those in position to effect change.
Sadly, we know why. We’ve watched it play out on the news and on Twitter. We’ve seen lawmakers make excuses over and over for why passing stricter gun laws and mandating background checks for potential purchasers won’t work.
But how do they know these methods won’t work? Is there now an app that tells you before hand what won’t work before you attempt to see if it will work? If so, sign me up. It will definitely come in handy in this thing called life and probably save me a lot of money.
I’ve been told there is no app so you know what has to happen now, we’re have to force the powers that be to make it work. We have to be more proactive instead of reactive. We have to run for office. We have to show up where the lawmakers are. We have to call their bluffs. We have to apply immense pressure. We have to keep pressing and pushing and persevering until all kids are able to return to their schools and rest in the safety that I once had.
The safety that I experienced before April 20, 1999.
The safety that I experienced until April 16, 2007.
The next generation is tired.
They’re tired of looking over their shoulders.
They’re tired of wondering if their classmate they’re sitting next to is armed with an assault rifle.
They’re tired of wondering if today is the day their school becomes a hashtag.
They’re tired of wondering if they will return home to their parents.
They’re tired of doing lockdown drills.
They’re tired of Marching for their Lives because theirs aren’t valued by those in position to make impactful decisions.
And they’re tired of the pacifying, belittling, appeasing, speeches, promises and words without action.
They’re taking matters into their own hands. And movements before this have proven that young people who aren’t willing to give up or take no for an answer are catalysts for change.
You better get ready for it because it’s coming.