Usually, I use this platform as a space to talk about my opinions on books. Today, recent happenings demand I stray.

On February 14, 2018, a shooter, armed with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle and magazines, murdered seventeen and injured fourteen students and faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. This incident represents the eighth American school shooting in not even the first eight weeks of this year.

As an American high school student, I have experienced more active shooter drills than I can count. Of all of these drills, one, from my sixth grade year, stands out. I am now in eleventh grade, but I still recall this moment because I was scared.

A parent entered my school building without signing in, and the school initiated a lockdown. Later, my parents received a message explaining the situation, but in the classroom, my peers and I had no knowledge of what was ensuing. I remember, with no closet large enough to fit students, cramming myself behind my teacher's desk, whispering with my peers, confused, trying to peer at my teacher's laptop for updates, how my teacher's eyes widened when she asked no one, "this is real?".  I am lucky that, a military child, I was attending a school on a military post, isolated from outside intruders, guarded by military personnel, with military police just around the corner. I am lucky that for me, this was not real. But for too many students, teachers, and families, this is a nightmare realized.

I remember when I was ten years old, my class took a moment of silence for the students and staff of Sandy Hook.

I remember just a month ago someone in my French class brought up the multiple students injured and two killed at Marshall Benton High School in Kentucky.

I remember Las Vegas and Orlando and Sutherland Springs and Sal Castro Middle School and all of the shootings in between and following, that ruptured our safety and our communities.

I remember  how for six years after Sandy Hook I waited for change and nothing changed, how advocates cried for change and nothing changed, how for six years and still we continue active shooter drills and ask the students and staff to prepare better while the weapons of destruction remain and our own lawmakers accept money to protect these weapons and the flawed views and lacking regulations that preserve them.

I remember how the news cycle moved on and our representatives, those elected to serve us, the people, allowed the issue to again disappear and reappear and disappear and reappear again, relegating us students to lives of fear.

Today I remember the dead students and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School: Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque Anguiano, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Chris Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup, and Peter Wang.

And today I look to the incredible teen advocates and victims from Stoneman Douglas High School, who fight and refuse to concede in spite of tragedy and criticism. I also look to my representatives to do something.

I remember the last lockdown drill I experienced. I was in French class. The code message, the hustle to lock doors and cover windows, the crouching in lines against walls, the loud doorknob, jostled to imitate an intruder, are familiar-- so familiar, in fact, that I anticipated the comments of what class or test or assignment was missed right after, as if this practice and the event we prepare to avoid are normal. Commonplace. Everyday happenings. In the United States, shootings are everyday happenings, claiming the lives of 96 Americans, including seven children, every 24 hours.  But school shootings are not normal; the preventable injuries and deaths of too many students and Americans, each with their own futures, each deserving of their own life, liberties, and pursuit of happiness are not normal. Shootings never were, are not, and never will be normal. America must realize that, and America must take action.

This action must be efficient and effective. We need to restrict AR-15-like semi-automatic rifles and automatic weapons that can murder hundreds in minutes. We need to restrict the high-capacity magazines that can hold multiple rounds of ammunition. We need to restrict the additions that can transform arms into weapons of destruction. We need comprehensive background checks that prevent those with criminal records from obtaining assault weapons. We need gun control.

This action starts with us. We must continue to watch, call, email, walk, show up, advocate as the students of Stoneman Douglas and the friends, family, neighbors, and victims of such tragedies have before them. I still don't have my driver's license, so I'm trying to figure out how I might be able to attend the March for Our Lives.

Some critics have attacked the #NeverAgain movement, arguing that we are too young to understand complex political matters, too lacking in experience to even argue. But even a 10 year old girl, sitting in her classroom, observing a moment of silence for fallen students younger than she is, realizes that school shootings demand action. That kids just like her now lost their friends, family, and will never see the end of middle school. That this is not right and never should be.

If we are old enough to die in our learning institutions while some of our elected officials show little remorse, we are certainly old enough to develop opinions on this matter.

We may not be old enough to vote, but we are old enough to have voices. We are old enough to develop are own, valid views of the world, to look around at the carnage we are growing up in and recognize that this is wrong.

But for change to occur, our elected officials, our representatives, must propose and pass restrictions. They hold the power to resist the NRA  through legislation that introduces gun control. They hold the power to make our schools safer.

Last night, during the CNN town hall featuring the Stoneman Douglas community's questions to politicians and the NRA, student Ryan Deitsch asked Senator Marco Rubio why the change must start with the students and why the legislators still have yet to take action. Rubio commended the students' advocacy, but unless Rubio takes action, he epitomizes Ryan's point: teens, victims, families, Americans are taking action, but our representatives retain the power to change and enforce the laws. If our politicians continue to do nothing, nothing changes; school shootings ensue.

They say our futures are bright, but how can our futures be so when dark death in unyielding streams of bullets in assault weapons looms over our heads?

I have two years until I am old enough to vote. You can bet when I'm 18, I will register and vote against those who do not espouse gun control. But I cannot wait, and America cannot afford to wait another two years of school shootings before change. Change must happen now.


  1. Totally agree with you, Claire! This was an eloquent, thoughtful post. Although I don’t live in the States I stand in solidarity with teens just like myself who live in danger with these lenient gun laws. Assault rifles haver no place in the hands of eighteen year olds.

  2. I completely agree, and I appreciate all of the teenagers and young people speaking up right now to make themselves heard. It is making a difference. I can't wait until you all can vote and enact the change you envision; until then, I will do my part, lend my voice (and my voting power), and stand by you all.

  3. I completely agree with you on this. I went through the same lockdown drills and while thankfully, they were all drills, I had several bomb threats for which we all had a panicked evacuation (not to mention whoever developed the evacuation plan doesn't know how scare tactics work because they had us all gather in the football stadium which is actually a more concentrated target but that's another conversation entirely). It's absolutely ridiculous that this continues to happen. It shouldn't be controversial at all! It's a simple cause and effect relationship. We can find out why the school shooters did what they did and why they were able to, and then shut down those pathways so others don't follow in their footsteps. What gives me hope are the marches and general activism being organized and major companies cutting ties with the NRA which is the main donor source of pro-second amendment legislation and they spend a lot of money to put politicians in their pockets. I'm so thankful that I'm able to vote in this country so I can be a part of putting more sensible people in office. What we need more than anything, though, is the general acknowledgment that this is an actual problem that's solvable and that the time to talk about gun regulation is now.

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks