Guest Columnist

Threat of violence is too real for Iowa students

Law enforcement officers are responding to Santa Fe High School following a shooting incident in this Harris County Sheriff office, Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., photo released on May 18, 2018.   Courtesy HCSO/Handout via REUTERS
Law enforcement officers are responding to Santa Fe High School following a shooting incident in this Harris County Sheriff office, Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., photo released on May 18, 2018. Courtesy HCSO/Handout via REUTERS

Sometimes you don’t realize how much something is bothering you until you try to talk about it and the words just ball up in your throat.

Last week, there was another school shooting, this time in Texas. It killed 10 people. The idea of a school shooting happening at my school is no longer a long shot, it seems as if everyone is almost expecting it. Truth is, to us, the idea of a school shooting happening seems more likely than a school fire.

Today I was eating lunch and I found myself speaking without really thinking about it. I told my parents that if I die in a school shooting, I want them to go onto my Google files, and read all of my thoughts so my voice is not lost. I cried as I explained my post-death instructions to them at just 16 years old.

“I don’t want do die, but if I do, I need you to do this for me.” I told them to use my opinions on gun control and my personal reflections as a platform to raise awareness and make people listen.

Ever since I was nine, school shootings have been a part of life. We see them on the news and say, “not another one.” Yet with each one my rage and my fury grows as I realize that the government is holding the value of guns above that of the lives of children.

My parents tell me not to worry, they say “the world can be bad sometimes.”

“No,” I tell them, “not the world. This is only happening in America.”

I feel as if we are in a war zone of domestic terrorism which the government refuses to acknowledge. I realize the hypocrisy of our government as I think about how, if this had been a foreign attacker rather than an American student, it would be treated as a case of terrorism. In reality the trouble already lies within.

Every single day I go to school and I fear for my life. My teachers fear for their lives. My friends fear for their lives.

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We hear a loud noise in the middle of English class, probably someone dropping books or something, and our teacher runs out and closes the doors as the students look at each other wide-eyed with the same thought — “Is this the time it is happening to us?”

At the beginning of this year a boy in my class explained to me that he wasn’t against gun control because he was pro-gun, but because he thought it would be a waste of money. I told him it shouldn’t matter. I would give everything I own to implement a system with even the slightest chance of saving one life. Why are you not ok with wasting money but you are ok with wasting lives?

School shootings happen everywhere, it is not solely America. But it is solely America where school shootings cause more deaths than those in the military and where the reaction to a shooting from politicians is “thoughts and prayers” but not action. These incidents can happen everywhere, so why does it happen so much more in America? It is not a coincidence, it is not bad luck. We are doing something differently and we are doing something wrong.

The only thing making America more susceptible to gun violence is our lax gun laws. It is the one factor which sets us apart from countries, who are winning the war on domestic terrorism.

• Maia DeGrazia is a student at Iowa City West High School.

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