On Friday the 16th at an Orlando Airport, a man being arrested reached into his pocket. Individuals at the airport had thought that the person was in possession of a gun, reaching for the weapon, and yelled a warning out to others in airport. Sheer panic overcame people and chaos broke out. Videos of people screaming and running were captured; they display the horror and reality of gun violence that is so common in our society. Fortunately, the alarm was false, but what do these usual false alarms portray?

Why had the people at that Orlando airport assumed such an abnormal thing? Simply because it isn’t so abnormal anymore. Gun violence is now so extraordinarily common in our country that a man merely reaching for his pocket triggers fear. As people of the United States, we have seen so many instances of tragedy that we are used to the fact that shootings could happen to us at any time. When we see these tragedies on the news, we aren’t taken aback or terribly surprised. Why has mass violence become such a common occurrence and what can we do about it?

From a young age, I have always remembered lock down drills, questioning why they were necessary in my hometown and school where I would feel the most safe. I would soon realize and grasp the fact that a person could come into my own school with a weapon and harm me, my friends, and my teachers. Now, being 13 years old, I can fully understand the severity and effect guns have on people of all ages in our country. Though I don’t fear my life every second I’m at school, victims of this violence might think about their horrible experience everywhere they go, especially everyday at school. Children in our nation are now taught from such young ages what to do and how to react if an act of violence were to happen to them. Even school, a place for students to learn, has “lock down drills,” which are practiced often for the purpose of kids being prepared. Yes, it is important to be safe and ready for anything that could happen, but what place is our country in where such children are exposed to the worst, still so young? Should school be a place where students need to fear their lives? Should parents need to worry for their children’s safety when they drop them off every morning?

This issue may not have affected us directly, but as students, we need to be the people who have the strongest opinions because there are real people and real schools just like ours around the country who have been affected by guns. For us to create change as students of North Shore Middle School, it’s important to have a voice. Simply having a conversation is a step towards change and can give others insight on facts or opinions that they had not yet known or thought about.

Photo: Reaching Higher NH