How many words have adults spoken in the aftermath of mass shootings in America, and are we any safer? Countless words. Countless arguments about gun control and gun violence. Countless thoughts and prayers. Adults have been doing the talking since Buffalo, Uvalde and Tulsa; now it’s time for us to listen too.
We want to shift the discussion to American teenagers and listen to you — high school students and middle school students, who are regularly drilled on gun safety and threat response in between English, geometry and other classes.
We want to understand what you are thinking and feeling in the aftermath of these shootings, and what you are talking about with your friends, classmates, family members, teachers and others. What will it take to feel safe, healthy and less anxious in school when there is so much access to guns today?
For all the good-faith efforts in Washington, D.C., and in state capitals to address school shootings and gun laws — and we hope they lead somewhere — these discussions among adults can also be frustrating to follow, given that the likely result is no result (if the recent past is any guide). Our nation’s leaders passed an assault weapons ban just 28 years ago that was allowed to expire in 2004. Reinstituting such a measure, notwithstanding President Biden’s words last week, is far out of reach now.
There is real value in hearing from students — not only because of the potential threat you face, but because you’re preparing to become voting citizens in our democracy and society. Tell us what you think and how you are doing. Tell us about the kind of schools and the kind of America you would build. In a democracy, every voice should matter — and your voices matter so much on this issue.
— Patrick Healy, deputy Opinion editor