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Easing the fear of gun violence among young people

As an Ashland High school student, I should feel safe walking across campus alone.

I have heard from peers the fear of walking the halls and seeing a new face. I feel as if I’m being prejudiced toward those poor kids, then shame myself for having those thoughts. But why?

Social media is constantly reminding us about the newest mass school shooting. Recently, I saw a meme on my Instagram feed about the hundredth shooting this year. The meme contained a short clip of the shooter at the school grinning as she was carried away by police. This was saddening, considering the caption was a joke about the shooter.

When I first started hearing about these shootings, the most important detail that everyone would hear about was where and how many casualties there were. These facts soon became distant as the number of shootings went up. Facts such as such as which state is it in now are more relevant. A few of my peers and I get deeply saddened as the number of children who passed away from school shootings rise.

Ashland recently has had beautiful weather, which has led to some of my classes going outside and doing work on our school quad. I was sitting there working on some economics homework when some kid on a skateboard board went whizzing by and hit a bump in the sidewalk, which echoed off a school building causing a loud noise. As this happened, everyone around me winced and seemed as though they’d be ready to hide.

I’ve noticed myself do this many times since I was young but haven’t noticed that this action was not uncommon. This was an instance that often occurs at my school, but for some reason on this day, I was more aware of my peers’ actions.

I have two friends who just moved here this year from countries that have outlawed guns, and it is interesting to see how they react to the gun laws here in America. A few months back we all went on a road trip to San Francisco together and were thoroughly enjoying our trip until I noticed that I had fears of walking the streets. I was raised on the small island of Hawaii and was not exposed to city life until I moved to Oregon. I’d visited cities many times but realized that my fear of walking the streets, especially at night, was heightened since shootings had been prevalent in my mind.

I remember walking through Chinatown to get to our bus at around nine at night and hearing fireworks or the trolley going over bumps in the road and I’d jump and my friends would laugh. I questioned myself for months wondering what my fear was about until my friend from New Zealand and I started researching school shootings. This triggered an emotion causing me to realize that my fear of loud noises was from guns. After we discussed a bit, we came to the conclusion that she had not winced or jumped when hearing those loud noises because the thought of it being a gun had never had to cross her mind. I know that I’m not the only one who fears for their life when I hear a loud noise.

This is not only a school issue, this is an issue as a country. I’m sure I’m not the only one who jumps at the sound of an echoing skateboard. A few friends and I have brainstormed ways to create a society that has less anxiety around guns and the only resolution we have found so far is banning guns.

This is no longer a school issue. Yes, it is true that these school shootings have helped us become more aware of the bigger issue. There should be no tolerance toward guns and that will help lower the fear toward everyday tasks such as walking down the street.

Schools have been targeted with gun violence, which is devastating considering this is the future generations that parents have entrusted in the hands of the classroom. Many children as young as 5 have had to hide from the potentially fatal gunshots, This is our future generation. Let’s change this.

Lia Moe lives in Ashland.