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Editorials

We are the Generation of Mass Shootings

By The Crimson Editorial Board
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

We are the generation of mass shootings.

We are the generation that has come of age with gun violence. School shootings have grown up alongside us: From elementary, to middle, to high school, and now college, we have seen our peers shot down with increasing frequency. We are the students who graduate with degrees in lockdowns and normalized mass paranoia.

We are the generation taught to hide. We have learned to second guess a fire alarm out of fear that it could be a gunman trying to flush students into the hallway. We have crouched under desks and rushed to turn off classroom electronics as we drill, and drill, and drill the proper actions should an active shooter ever enter our building. We hope this protocol will persist in our muscle memories, if not readily accessible in our panic-petrified minds; we pray each infinitesimal adjustment to our postures will maximize our potential for survival. Our teachers cut the lights, yank shades over windows, and stash buckets of rocks in their desk drawers alongside surplus number two pencils. We leap out of windows and lock ourselves in storage closets.

We don’t make a sound.

We are the generation whose worst fears are realized regularly. “Run. Hide. Fight.” That was the message Michigan State University students received on February 13, when a gunman fatally shot three students and injured five others. According to the Washington Post, more than 338,000 of us have experienced gun violence in school since the Columbine school shooting in 1999. This is not just a drill in a classroom. This is real.

We are the generation that watches our backs. Any public setting is vulnerable to the epidemic of gun violence. Malls, clubs, concerts, and college campuses are only a few of the hundreds of places we frequent where the terrifying thought crosses our minds: What if it were to happen here? Where would we hide, where could we run? The back door of a lecture hall opens and the hairs on the back of our necks become electric. What if? When living on a college campus as open as Harvard’s, it’s hard not to let fear pervade the architecture of our everyday life.

We are the generation that suppresses our emotions. We have become an excruciating combination of overanxious and desensitized in response to the staggering number of mass shootings in this country. There have been 80 mass shootings so far in 2023, over the span of just a handful of weeks — yet our lives must continue on. So we try not to think about it. Every time a new tragedy replaces another one in the headlines, we add it to a collection of worries festering in silence, the wounds too repetitive to ever fully be unpacked. We cannot help but wonder what effect this toll has on our national psyche — and on our mental health.

We are the generation of sorrow. We mourn for the students who lost their lives in the tragic shooting at Michigan State, a calamity that should never have transpired. We offer our deepest condolences to their families and friends, who have been added to the ever-growing list of loved ones whose lives will forever be scarred along the contours of gun violence.

We are the generation demanding solutions. Mass shootings, a uniquely American problem, are also caused by overwhelmingly white and male perpetrators, making this violence frustratingly difficult to disentangle from other societal issues. Still, there’s a reason why “Common Sense” gun legislation is called “Common Sense”: Fewer guns means fewer shootings. Other countries, like Australia, have successfully combated these tragedies with legislative force. When will we do the same?

Time and time again, we have heard our government’s message loud and clear: guns over lives. We do not gain any new insights the more we wait — we are tired of begging for scraps of a solution. We wonder how many more breaths we will waste on unheard pleas while our peers must ration them in too-silent classrooms, suffocating themselves to survive.

We are the generation asking for change.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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