Reflecting on 948 and Counting School Shootings in The Last 10 Years

Zack Miller | The PhoenixThere have been 948 shootings since 2012, according to the Sandy Hook Promise.

I find myself getting overly emotional when it comes to issues of gun violence, especially when it is against innocent children. The faces of the students who have died in these massacres are burned into my mind forever as a reminder of why I feel such a strong and deep connection to this issue. I have realized I can’t fully explain why I feel so strongly about this topic, but it is an emotional response that I can’t escape.

 Four years ago, I wrote a piece titled “17 Minutes” about the Parkland school shooting where I shared my thoughts about the event and what I thought could be done. I never thought I would be writing yet another opinion piece about a school shooting.

Since the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 students between the ages of 5 and 10 years old were killed along with six adults, 948 school shootings have taken place. Let that number sink in. In the last 10 years, nearly 1,000 school shootings have happened and ruined lives.

Yesterday, an 18-year-old gunman fired an assault rifle at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing at least 19 children and two teachers, The Associated Press (AP) reported. The man had purchased two assault weapons on his 18th birthday, The Daily Beast reported. 

The gunman, identified as Salvador Ramos, was shot dead by police at the scene, AP reported.  Ramos also shot his grandmother prior to barricading a classroom and shooting the students and teachers. 

I could go into deep detail of all the facts of the massacre, but I’m sure everyone reading this has already seen the endless stream of reporting that has come out in the last two days. One story that broke my heart into a million pieces, had too great of an effect to get swept under the rug.

This story followed the horror the father of Amerie Jo Garza, one of the victims, endured as he waited seven long hours for news on his daughter. Angel Garza tried to find his daughter by posting on Facebook. At the end of his seven hour wait, he found out his daughter had died and he thanked everyone for their thoughts, prayers, and help “finding my baby.”

“Please don’t take a second for granted,” Garza wrote. “Hug your family. Tell them you love them. I love you Amerie Jo. Watch over your baby brother for me.”

I can’t even explain the rush of emotion I feel when reading that last quote. It makes me wonder how there are still people in this country who don’t support gun reform.

Assault rifles are meant to kill. Plain and simple. They aren’t meant to be sold, especially to 18 year olds. How is it logical that you can’t have a glass of wine at 18, but you can have a semi automatic weapon? 

The European Union, New Zealand, Australia and Canada all have bans on semi-automatic assault weapons and none of those countries experience the utter devastation that the United States does from gun violence.

Nineteen little boys and girls died yesterday. Nineteen lives that had just begun and among that, the lives of all their parents and family members are forever changed. What more reason do we need to protect kids and not guns. 

As I reflect on all the school shootings I have read about over the last 10 years, I find myself wondering how many kids and teachers have to die in order for change to occur. 

There were many times during the writing of this that I disappeared into a puddle of tears, but that is not what I want others to take away from the story, so I want to share a glimmer of hope.

In the last 100 years we have seen America escape a depression, women gain the right to vote, the Civil Rights Act get passed, wars end, same sex couples win the right to get married and so much more. We have lived through times where people thought the darkness and devastation would never end, but it did, and we danced and rejoiced. 

There is work to be done in all areas of reform, but I know we can do this if we push hard enough, educate those around us, help those in need and fight for change. A gun bill was in the works after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but nothing ever came of it, The Washington Post reported. 

We don’t need thoughts and prayers. We need change and reform. This massacre breaks my heart and makes me want to throw away all hope, but I know we can do this. We have to do this. America, we’re better than this. 

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