Expected, anticipated and unacceptable

School shootings have become a depressing and disappointing norm in the United States.

Timothy Spierings

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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

More teachers and students were killed by gun violence in U.S. schools than active-duty military deaths in 2018.

When typing “was there a” into a Google search bar, one of the top results is “was there a school shooting today?”

Some may remember the Columbine Shooting of 1999 as the first school shooting to take place in modern America. It was marked as a tragedy, but people mourned and moved on, believing that it was a one-time occurrence.

It wasn’t.

Over the years, school shootings have become more frequent, to the point that they don’t even qualify as breaking news anymore.

Growing up, I didn’t realize that the drills we ran in case of a shooter weren’t something that always happened in schools.

I didn’t know that at one point in time, students weren’t being pushed into the corners of rooms where someone wouldn’t be able to see them, and that our teachers didn’t always reassure us that they would fight and die for us if someone tried to get to us.

Even then, when I was younger, the thought of a school shooting wasn’t as immediate of a worry. Then in high school, the shootings picked up even more.

Sandy Hook Elementary. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. And just recently on May 7, the Highlands Ranch STEM shooting.

And within all of these tragedies, we find little acts of heroism among the victims of the shooters. Peter Wang of Marjory Stoneman Douglas held a door open for his peers and ended up not living to see the next day,

Victoria Soto of Sandy Hook lied about her students’ locations and paid the price for it,

Kendrick Castillo of Highlands Ranch lunged at the gunman and sacrificed himself so his classmates can live. Their sacrifices were incredible acts of selflessness. They never should have been necessary in the first place.

A teacher does not study to become a teacher to jump in front of a gun to save their students, and yet many have done so. A student does not go to school just to be killed in an act of unjustified violence, and yet so many are.

It’s inexcusable how little has changed to prevent these sacrifices from occurring.

There is no reason why I should have been gathered by my teachers and told that a shooter could come into our classroom one day. There is no reason why any of us should have had to have been told that it’s ok if we don’t want to die for anyone.

There is no reason why a classmate should be the one behind the barrel of the gun they shouldn’t have in the first place.

There is no reason why children should have to die at all.

But it keeps happening, even when the victims themselves have become figureheads and challenged their lawmakers to change things so that they can attend school without worrying if today is the last day of their lives.

It’s something that I really struggle to understand. It shouldn’t be so hard to ensure that children don’t die in school. We should be able to agree to make the changes necessary so that it doesn’t ever happen again.

Why is it that as a society, we can trivialize children’s lives for our own wants?

School shootings once held a terrifyingly strong effect on people, with strong responses. Now, they are met with weary sighs of acceptance.

Shootings are expected, anticipated and never a surprise. Thoughts and prayers won’t prevent the next one.

Spierings can be reached at [email protected]