Another School Shooting; Now Our Generation is Joining the Fight for Gun Control

Rissa Gross, Opinion Editor

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On Thursday, Nov. 14 at 7:38 a.m. there was another mass shooting in California, this time at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita. The shooting left two students dead, three students injured and countless students running for their lives or locked in classrooms for hours.

I think it is way past time for the younger generation to get involved and make our voices heard about school safety and gun reform.

I graduated from Saugus High in June 2016 and I lived in Santa Clarita my entire life. My community is left broken and grieving — again. The first time was when my second home, Thousand Oaks, was left shattered following the shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill in 2018, in which my former choirmate Justin Meek was killed.

A poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics showed that 64% of people 18 to 29 years old support stricter gun laws, according to The Washington Post.

We have waited far too long for parents and adults to protect us: it is our turn to make a change. By “we,” I mean people born close to or after the mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999.

We are the generation who was raised in a world where mass shootings and school shootings are the norm. We are the generation of campus shooter drills and gun wound first aid training. We are the generation who says “I love you” too much to our friends and family, just in case.

According to The Washington Post, the March for Our Lives group, led by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors, proposed “‘A Peace Plan for a Safer America,’ [which] calls for a ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, a national licensing and gun registry, a mandatory gun buyback program for assault-style weapons, a rigorous licensing system and other measures to combat not just mass shootings but also suicides and domestic and urban violence.”

For all four years of high school, I practically lived in the Saugus High choir room, where one girl sought shelter after being shot twice in the side and shoulder. While 30 or 40 students hid in her office, choir teacher Katie Holt tended to the girl’s wounds with the first aid bag and gunshot wound kit she kept in her classroom, according to NBC News. Holt’s actions may be the reason the girl survived.

“I will never forget what it felt like to be scared for my life in that small choir office,” said Saugus High School senior and choir president Eddie Mendoza. “My amazing choir teacher, Ms. Holt, should have been a teacher that day, not a paramedic.”

When adults hear about these students getting shot and killed, they imagine if that had been their own child. But that is not powerful enough. When we see the faces of people killed in mass shootings, such as Saugus and Borderline, we see ourselves. That is so much more powerful.

Being at the vigil for Saugus High School on Sunday, Nov. 17, I heard community officials and school administrators speak as well as students and friends of the victims. It was clear to me that the students were filled with far more fire and passion than the adults.

Emily Witt wrote in The New Yorker about the teenage leaders of March for Our Lives, “Along with the rest of the country, I watched as… their classmates addressed the media and lawmakers with a controlled fury and eloquence made more potent by their youth.”

In 2014, my sister was a student at University of California, Santa Barbara when a shooter killed six people in her neighborhood in Isla Vista, California. Also, my uncle was shot through the knee at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas in 2017.

“When will our government wake up and realize that this is a growing problem?” Mendoza said.

My family has been touched by two mass shootings and both of my communities have been affected by two more. I do not care about the politics of the issue, but something has to change.

It is not fair. It isn’t fair that we are the ones hiding in classrooms when we should be learning at school or breaking windows instead of line dancing at country night. We are the ones running for our lives and trusting adults to do their job and protect us. It’s not their fight anymore, it is ours.

This article was updated on Nov. 19 to reflect that the Saugus High victim was shot once in the shoulder and the second shot was in her side, not her leg.