SILVER SPRING, MD - FEBRUARY 21: Students from Montgomery Blair High School march down Colesville Road in support of gun reform legislation February 21, 2018 in Silver Spring, Maryland. In the wake of last week's shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed, the students planned to take public transportation to the U.S. Capitol to hold a rally demanding legislation to curb gun violence in schools. (Win McNamee)
SILVER SPRING, MD - FEBRUARY 21: Students from Montgomery Blair High School march down Colesville Road in support of gun reform legislation February 21, 2018 in Silver Spring, Maryland. In the wake of last week's shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed, the students planned to take public transportation to the U.S. Capitol to hold a rally demanding legislation to curb gun violence in schools.

Win McNamee

Gun Violence in schools haunt the United States

November 19, 2019

Gun violence in schools is taking a toll on kids and adults across the nation. Ecori.org states, “from 1840 up to this year, there have been about 517 school shootings in the United States.”

According to Ecori.org, since the first school shootings in 1840, there have been a total of 594 people killed and 970 injured. The first school shooting on record was November 12, 1840, Gardner Davis, a law professor at the University of Virginia, was fatally shot by a student and died three days later. 

These massacres leave a horrible strain on students and educators. An estimated 3 million American children are exposed to shootings per year. Witnessing shootings whether in their schools, their communities, or their homes can also have a devastating impact on their mental health.

The Washington Post states, “It’s no longer the default that going to school is going to make you feel safe, even kids who come from middle-class and upper-middle-class communities literally don’t feel safe in schools,” said Bruce D. Perry, a psychiatrist and one of the country’s leading experts on childhood trauma. 

Columbine High was a seminal moment in the evolution of modern school shootings due to the fact that it strongly influenced later developments of school safety. The shooting at Columbine High School, which left 12 students and one teacher dead, and injured 21 others was the highest school shooting fatality at that time. Because of that, policies changed to increase the safety of schools including having IDs to be able to enter campus, deputies and security guards on campus, increased camera security, and metal detectors in some schools.

Matthew Sherman, Blythewood High’s principal, states, “We are very intentional every day about making sure we have the right people in the right areas. We ask a lot of our adults, but we also ask a lot out of our students. We ask adults to be open during transitions and making the effort to recognize students and making sure they are wearing their IDs. We make sure the doors are locked and that there isn’t anything being put in the door to wedge it open as well. We have some incredible deputies constantly making sure everything is okay and safe. It’s my mission and goal to make sure every staff, every student comes to school with a smile on their face and goes home with a smile on their face.”

Many movements have emerged to raise awareness for school safety.

The March For Our Lives, founded after the Parkland massacre at Stoneman Douglas Highschool, mission statement is, “We have a bold, comprehensive policy platform to end the gun violence epidemic in America that claims nearly 40,000 lives every year. If we’re going to end this, we need to address the root causes of gun violence. Created by survivors, so you don’t have to be one.”

There’s just so much going on in this day and age, the pressures to fit in, and the pressures to achieve. And then you couple that with the fact that kids can’t even feel safe in their schools—they worry genuinely about getting shot—and it all makes it so much harder to be a teenager.”

— Kathy Reamy

Protectourschools.com, founded to demand that our leaders take real action to end gun violence in our schools and to protect our students, also has a mission statement against gun violence in schools that states, “No more children murdered in our schools. No more parents sending a child to school who never comes home. No more teachers, coaches, principles, librarians, or any school staff standing between students and a gunman. No more.”

Many organizations are trying to adopt plans that could help decrease the number of school shootings. For example, Everytownresearch.org states, “Our plan includes: pass red flag laws, encourage responsible firearm storage, raise the age to purchase semiautomatic firearms, require background checks on all gun sales, create threat assessment programs in schools, implement expert-endorsed school security upgrades, and initiate effective emergency planning to create safe and equitable schools.” 

“Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Education Association have crafted a plan focused on an intervention that can prevent mass shooting incidents and help end gun violence in American schools.” 

Whether it’s marches, speeches, movements, or foundations, raising awareness against gun violence in schools is important. School is supposed to be a safe place where students and staff go to teach and receive an education. 

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