In the summertime, you lick popsicle juice off your fingers, breath painted a forget-me-not blue, artificial and good all at once. Sweet freckles dance across your cheeks. They look like the paint splashes in art class the day you made a mess, brush hairs spitting across the tabletops. As much as you love freedom and fireflies, you can’t wait until August rolls around and you can share picture books and secrets with your classmates once again.
Your mother slips mittens on your fingers to protect you from the cold. Donning a too-big backpack and a smile that parallels, today you are eager to learn and itching to play. Across the playground equipment, you are a pirate, a robber, a wanted Loch Ness monster, until the teacher blows the whistle and you are student again. You love all your classmates, and they love you. But today is different. The lights are off, and you are hiding beneath your desks like prison mates. No one is smiling anymore. Your classmates will not come to school tomorrow. Today in school, you learn that there is cold that even mittens cannot shield you from.
On December 14, 2012, six adults and twenty children between the ages of five and ten died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting. A child with a life full of love, innocence, and opportunity ahead of them, all lost at the pull of a trigger. No gun is worth more than a child’s life. Sandy Hook, Florida, Maryland. When will it end?
Rain slips off our faces, glistens our hair, how fitting it is that the world cries for its children.
Seventeen lives is too many to count by finger, so instead I count my steps. Today, we walk in silence. I watch the rain trickle down umbrella tops, watch the paint spill off the screaming posters. A few survive; one catches my eye. In tall, brooding letters, it reads “Children go to school to better their futures, not to end them.”
Solemn faces surround me. Five students speak through megaphones, their words fighting against the finality that is law. Their words are slippery and strained - stricter gun laws, change, protest, lives, we have to do something, something, anything, until they are no longer words, but choked pleas, desperate calls to action. Seventeen students lie against the grass, a representation of the seventeen deaths in Florida, and we circle around them, watching as the rain beats across their fragile faces. We return to class, dripping with sorrow and sympathy, but our minds are not on lessons today. A few hours pass before our jeans are dry and we cease to shake - dry, safe, and allowed to learn, as we should be.
This is not about the second amendment, our right to defend ourselves, or the freedom to own as we please. This is about diminishing the hate that poisons our lives. It is about protecting children and adults alike. Gun safety is not a political issue; it’s a human issue. Regardless of our party affiliation, we can all agree that innocent people should be protected at all costs. If stricter gun laws are the key to preventing deaths, it should not come as an inconvenience to gun owners - it should come as a relief. In a country as developed as America, it is vital that we ensure that everyone deemed worthy of owning a gun has both the mental capacity and the character to withhold that responsibility. Guns are not mindless shooting tools - they are the lives of our sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, neighbors, teachers, and friends.
Guns down, hearts open.
Horwitz, Sari. Fahrenthold, David A. Vogel, Steve. “Sandy Hook Elementary shooting leaves 28 dead, law enforcement sources say.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 2012. Web. 20 March 2018.