To the Editor:
Today I write because we have reached a turning point in Rhode Island. This turning point is being led by the students who are tired, scared, and sickened at the fact that we still witness kids our ages dying. To some this may be a radical and harsh idea, but it comes as no surprise for those involved with education. Any of those in school have seen the death and destruction that comes with school shootings. This year, my peers and I have sat in classrooms and watched news stories with video footage of gunfire.
Moreover, the students in Rhode Island have also witnessed a government system that tells us we have enough protection, despite our vocal fears that we do not feel safe walking into our buildings. For those that have not experienced being in an educational setting all day long since their childhoods, I remind you that schools today are filled with students that have elaborate escape plans for if an active shooter attacks. Students are made to understand that in the event of an active shooter, you must run from the school with your hands up. Also students are made to understand that any sound made in a lockdown could be the end.
Students are made to understand to sit away from the range of the door because some bullets are able to fire through the doors. Finally, students have come to understand the quality of the last text you send to your parents. All of these have become common knowledge amongst kids. Another thing that has become common knowledge is feeling fear when you see a stranger on school grounds. They tell us that the golden rule is see it, hear it, say it, or speak up if you see something. While this is important the time for simple actions have passed. That time passed when kids felt scared to walk into K-12 Rhode Island schools because they did not want to be next on the ever-growing list of names that have lost their lives.
Continually, students recognize the passing of time as a call to action. As time moves on and session comes to close kids can see that things like the Safe Schools Act will not see the floor. This does nothing to reassure kids who are afraid because anyone with a conceal carry permit can walk into their school with a firearm and not tell anyone. As a student who is well aware of the laws that are in place, I can attest to the fact that your stomach tightens, your palms sweat, and you feel afraid when you see someone approach the school with a heavy jacket or large bag.
Students are tired of living in fear of being next. This is why on Wednesday, June 13, students are protesting, because our bills are not being given the chance to receive a vote. This being despite heavy support from Rhode Island voters who are both pro and anti-gun. No matter what side someone is on, people can agree that a classroom should not be the last room you see. People can also agree that no matter who a person is, or what they did that day, they deserve to walk out of a school the way they walked in. By not letting bills a chance to go to the floor for a vote, students are being silenced. The time for action is now and the students have spoken.
Jenna is a junior at Toll Gate High School and participated in Wednesday’s rally at the State House.