Gun Violence Has No Place in Our Schools


On the morning of May 24, 2022, a lone gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and killed 21 people—19 children and two teachers—just days before the start of summer break. The pupils were fourth-graders, all of them nine to eleven years old, and when the shooter entered their classroom, they were watching Lilo and Stitch. Heartbreakingly enough, some of the slain children had proudly made the honor roll hours earlier.

As students, the massacre was deeply disturbing news to hear about—if not as shocking as one would presume it to be. The Uvalde shooting is hardly an anomaly: since 1999, there have been 331 incidents of gun violence at American schools, which have affected over 300,000 children and resulted in the deaths of at least 185 people. While the precise solution to these shootings is debated, for the affected adults and children, they will undoubtedly result in trauma that can never be recovered from. And as we go through active shooter drills and walk through life aware of these frequent, deadly assaults, it’s impossible to not wonder: what if someday, that happens to us?

In years past we’ve witnessed Sandy Hook, Parkland, and now Robb Elementary: to us, school shootings don’t feel like distant devastations. They affect how we view our safety in the classroom and the way we approach our daily lives. With every horrific account of gun violence that reaches headlines, we ponder new escape routes from each of our classes and consider the safest places to hide—what we can use as a shield, and which school supplies could save our lives. We think about whether our textbooks and phones could block a bullet, and calculate how fast we can hide under our desks.

As students, we used to come to school, our place of education, feeling safe and protected. Today,  we worry that our lives could be jeopardized at any moment—and other students at Arcadia share similar sentiments. 

“The morning after [the Uvalde shooting] occurred, I remember walking into school and the title of the [tragic] article flowed through my head,” said Arcadia High School (AHS) junior Ian Qi. “I got rid of the idea of ‘it couldn’t happen to me,’ and each day became harder to endure…reading through tragedies like this truly makes it hard for me to swallow my food.” 

“The recent shooting was an awakening to many,” said AHS Junior Vice President Benjamin Oh, “especially to the students that are currently in school, having to live through the fear that one day, a person can easily access the school campus to shoot innocent lives…although AHS brings a safe environment on campus, as a student, we can never guarantee that our lives will be [in] a safe place everyday.” Oh went on to say that as shootings occur, it makes every day harder to attend school, as students don’t want to put their lives at risk. 

Critically, if a shooting were to happen, many classmates and adults we know would also be in danger. Many of us have siblings to think of, some of whom, painfully, are as young as the children killed last week in Uvalde. But no student should ever have to think about losing a loved one, a friend, or an educator— nor should we have to face up to the fact that our own parents fear for us and feel compelled to remind us to stay safe.

In a better world, of course, the sentiment wouldn’t even be necessary. In a better world, we wouldn’t feel so weary after learning of the 214th American mass shooting in 2022 alone. Qi and Oh, who both consider loose gun laws to be a root cause of mass shootings, bemoaned the recurring, preventable nature of these assaults.

And as AHS junior Julianna Sandoval stated on the Uvalde shooting: “The situation was just horrible. I hope nothing like this ever happens again.” 

As students, we fret daily about grade point averages, AP exams, and finals. We worry about our college applications, what our friends and classmates think of us. We wonder about things both important and inconsequential—but most of all, we consider what our lives will look like years from now, decades later in the distant, unwritten future.

After witnessing a shooting like Uvalde, however, we sometimes can’t help but question if we’ll live to see that future at all. After all, the young victims of Robb Elementary will never even get to attend fifth grade, much less grow up to have a job and a family. Forever unrealized remain the ambitions of every person slain in Uvalde. Their lives were cut too short, too soon—everything they were and hoped to be gone in an instant, ended prematurely by a shooter and his bullets. 

The students and teachers at Robb Elementary were not expendable; no innocent life on this earth is. And because of that, we know that whatever it takes, gun violence in schools must end—for our parents, for our teachers, for our siblings, for our friends, and for the many, many communities and families who will suffer, if this goes on. Gun violence has to end for the dreams we want to live to fulfill. It has to end for us.