For many teenagers, high school is a place to create cherished memories, build everlasting friendships, and prepare for life as an independent adult.
For some, high school has become a place of uncertainty, fear, and terror.
That is exactly what went through the minds of Oxford High School students when 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley entered the building with a nine millimeter handgun, shooting and killing four students and critically injuring seven others in a brutal, rage-filled rampage on November 30th.
Now, the infamous Oxford High shooting is a name that rests alongside Columbine and Sandy Hook, as well as many other heartbreaking tragedies.
How many more innocent lives must be sacrificed in order for the government to make a life saving change in American society? Will it be hundreds? Thousands? Millions?
For American lawmakers, it’s just another day at the office.
Children cower behind locked classroom doors, wondering if today is their last and being filled with regrets at the thought of never having said “Goodbye” or “I love you” to the ones they hold dear in their hearts.
The American government failed us from the moment the trigger was pulled at the Columbine massacre on April 20th, 1999, leaving children dead, profoundly traumatizing others, and tearing parents apart with grief.
And although gun control has become a controversial topic, it is crystal clear where lawmakers stand in the midst of one of the most heated problems in American history. There is a profound divide between victims of gun violence and the ones who choose to support easy access of these weapons by anyone alike.
According to a study conducted by The Washington Post, more than 278K children in 298 various schools have been exposed to gun violence. But at least 157 children, teachers, and others have been killed in these assaults with another 351 injured.
Easy access to guns allows this to continually happen, year by year. The Washington Post also reported that in cases where the origin of the gun could be determined, more than 85% of school shooters brought them from their own homes, obtaining them from family or friends.
Because of adult negligence, dozens of children were able to access these deadly weapons and commit horrendous acts that ultimately changed the face of America, creating a schism that threatens to destroy the lives of many.
In the case of Ethan Crumbley, his own actions and the deliberate negligence of his parents resulted in the deaths of the victims and the heartbreak of the parents left in the wake of this tragedy.
Even after exhibiting disturbing behaviors, his parents failed to provide him the help he needed. Easy access to the handgun in his own home allowed for him to act on his thoughts, in which he immediately became a prominent danger to society.
Easy access to guns was all it took.
It becomes agonizing to see the same tragedy happen over and over, day after day, year after year, and with no change being made.
As a collective society, we must vow to raise awareness and urge lawmakers to take action by enacting life saving legislation.
We cannot let another catastrophe happen and watch by the sidelines as our future becomes a bleak sliver on the horizon.
We cannot let the names of those who lost their lives be in vain.
Tate Myre, Madisyn Baldwin, Justin Shilling, and Hana St. Juliana were all students at Oxford High School. Individuals who had their whole lives ahead of them. Individuals who were going to be the voice of change in America. Individuals who were just like us. But with one bullet, they were gone.
It’s so horrifyingly simple, when one stops to think about it.
One solution is so simple.
The key to a lock of a never ending problem in America.
If only innocent children didn’t have to die in order for the nation’s leaders to recognize the importance of a future.
Beliah Christian is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl