Having a daughter in high school the past few years, unfortunately, calls forth a constant nagging in the back of my mind that another student might shoot up the school before she left. Although Oak Park and River Forest have kept students safe from outside threats like shooters for so many years, when I was in school, shootings were “not a thing.”
In today’s system there is always that lurking fear in the back of a parent’s mind. For her school, police show up even for a school fight. They are there within 30 seconds. Oak Park and River Forest can afford it. But what about towns that can’t? What about towns that have ill-prepared officers, as seen in the Uvalde school shooting?
Recently, my daughter’s school had a school-shooting threat and not only was the suspect apprehended before he even got in the building, but the school immediately had meetings to do a risk assessment about whether their approaches were adequate. This is commendable.
Honestly, I don’t understand why America’s government is not more protective of its youth. I don’t understand because I was born on the brink of a revolution and lost a parent in one. My mother at the time was 18 and pregnant with me. The first school massacre, and the last one she witnessed, was when a dictator’s minions poured into a school that my mother attended and where an older friend of hers was a pregnant teacher, and massacred people in the building, ripping my mother’s friend’s baby out of her womb. In a war-torn country like Uganda (at the time) where a terrible dictator named Idi Amin controlled the country and ordered such massacres, it is consistent with the narrative. But honestly, in America? I did not expect to have this covert anxiety about her making it through school without being shot or making it to any public establishment or venue without being shot at in this of all countries. That, I thought, was beyond the American standard.
The United Kingdom is made up of individuals from vastly different backgrounds yet after the 1996 Dunblane massacre, where a gunman attacked a primary school in the Scottish town, it immediately led to a push for stricter gun laws and gun reform. The public outcry made this the last school shooting in the UK.
We have people crying out. Every time this happens, the parents who are victims by losing their children “cry out.” Outraged citizens “cry out.” Celebrities “cry out.” Public figures “cry out.” Even some government officials “cry out.” Yet not enough is happening. The U.S. is approaching war-torn country level shooting incidents, with more shootings than there are days in a year. My relatives abroad in what’s considered “third world” countries, reach out with pity every time they hear of a school shooting. They express concern for America and ask if we are OK.
We have to ask; if there are so many crying out, who is making the decision to not listen and continuing to support access to guns? Who are the ones not listening? Who are the ones with so much power in this decision, they are overpowering those of us who know it does not make sense for citizens to have such easy access to guns? How much further do we need to push when it’s taken this long to get a bare minimum bill through the Senate?
EL Serumaga Ecovici is an Oak Park resident.