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Jennifer White: The Lockdown Generation

  • Cagle Cartoons / Arcadio Esquivel Cagle Cartoons / Arcadio Esquivel

For the Monitor
Published: 3/8/2018 12:10:08 AM

The alarm goes off. The teacher turns off the lights and closes the door. We stop what we’re doing and sit on the floor, crowded against the wall in darkness. It’s peaceful and quiet darkness, but not for long.

Many of my classmates grow impatient and begin whispering and giggling. The teacher gives a simple yet eerie warning: If a real lockdown were to occur, she hopes they would behave better. Her serious statement has little impact on her students. Why would it? It’s just a drill. Something we’ve done too many times to count. So often that it has become automatic, a gratifying interruption for students who are in the middle of a difficult test, or mind-numbing lecture, yet a tedious one for those who must stop schoolwork they are diligently working on, only to crowd against the wall in the dark. Because we’ve grown up in a culture where mass shootings are a constant threat, even at school, we don’t think much of these drills. Yet each time we hear of another school shooting, we are reminded of their gravity.

I sit in the darkened, semi-silent room, thinking about the teacher’s ominous statement and wonder, what if this wasn’t a drill? What would I do if I heard gunshots? What would my classmates and teacher do? I look around the room and wonder, where would I hide? In the closet? Under a desk? Or would we all continue to huddle against the wall, hoping that the dark room would hide us from the view of an intruder in the hallway. Hoping that we would not be shot at through the door. These thoughts race through my head, but I remind myself it’s not real.

For me and my classmates, it’s only a drill, and we will soon resume class like nothing happened. But for the countless number of students and teachers who have been killed, injured and traumatized by school shootings, class will never resume like that again.

Access to semi-automatic assault weapons is so open that even my brother, who isn’t old enough to purchase alcohol, could legally buy an assault rifle in most states. With Americans having such easy access to these weapons, this fear that myself or one of my classmates could be the next victim of one is not irrational.

Going to school after learning of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting was intimidating. If such an event could occur at a school as safe and secure as that one, it is undeniable that it could occur anywhere. Which is why I implore Gov. Chris Sununu and our elected representatives to do their part in putting an end to it.

When students go to school, they should feel safe, not fearful of falling victim to a weapon so violent that it can kill numerous people in a minute. If banning such a weapon as the AR-15, which has been used for many of the most horrific mass shootings, is too much of a burden on our representatives, then, at the least, require all gun sales to include a background check on the citizen buying one. Do it for the majority of New Hampshire voters, gun owners included, who want that. And if not for them, do it for the New Hampshire citizens who cannot yet vote but are just as impacted by these decisions.

The students like me, who sit in darkened classrooms, huddled against a wall with their classmates, wondering, what would I do?

(Jennifer White is a junior at Hopkinton High School.)

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