Opinion: School shootings have become defining characteristic of American education system


Graphic by Andie San Luis

Since Aug. 1, there have been 24 school shootings across the United States. From these 24 shootings, a total of 34 people have been injured and six have died.

When I was in sixth grade, our class watched CNN Student News in contemporary world cultures class. After watching a segment about the War in Afghanistan, which included footage of soldiers on a battlefield, I had nightmares for weeks. The thought of being in a scenario where I was being shot at replayed in my mind over and over again at night and randomly throughout the school day. Even when gun violence seemed far, the fear resonated greatly with me. Five years later, I grip onto these same fears — the only difference is they seem more realistic and closer than ever.

On Oct. 6, there was a school shooting at Timberview High School — a mere 30 minutes from Hebron. Four students were injured after a gun was fired, leaving two with gunshot wounds. When I heard about the shooting from a friend, she commented that she wasn’t even fazed after hearing about the shooting. Sadly, I felt the same way. Although it is always tragic hearing about a school shooting, it has become less and less shocking. This desensitization has caused our society to normalize shootings in American schools.

Since Aug. 1, there have been 24 school shootings across the United States. That’s around 24 shootings in 10 weeks, averaging to 2.4 shootings per week. In 2019, there were a total of 45 school shootings over the course of 46 weeks, averaging out to one shooting per week. It is concerning to see that the average number of shootings per week in 2021 has already surpassed that of 2019. After a year of virtual learning, it seems gun violence in American schools is back with a vengeance. 

In addition to shootings themselves being tragedies, it’s even more unsettling that they have become so normalized that many fail to make mainstream news. When I was in middle school, our band performed at a high school in McKinney, TX. A few days following our performance, there was an attempted shooting at the same school. Our band director sat us down and broke the news to us, almost in tears. He expressed his disappointment in the community for trying to ‘cover up’ the event in hopes of maintaining the good reputation of the city and school district. 

Aside from my band director, I never heard anyone else talk about the McKinney incident. I didn’t see the story plastered on the front of the New York Times or the Washington Post. It was just another incident involving an open firearm at a public school — a story our nation has seen countless times. 

It is disheartening that school shootings have become an accepted societal norm. We have become desensitized to the loss of others’ lives.  After every shooting, politicians go online to express their condolences and sadness following the tragedies, yet nothing changes. No policies have been successfully pushed to help ensure a greater level of safety for students and school staff. And something needs to change. Schools should be a safe learning environment, and normalizing school shootings is not going to increase safety for students. 

In order ensure a secure atmosphere for students to learn in, we as a society must take action by fighting for stricter gun restrictions, as well as enforcement of these restrictions, in schools. Shootings can be prevented through conducting psychological evaluations for those obtaining guns, as well as requiring licenses to carry firearms in public. Gun violence scared me when it was merely a video from across the world; however, as it has become a more local and common issue, I am no longer phased. When it comes to schools, students and teachers should be focused on education — not just making it out alive.