OPINION: Good Luck.

The contrast of gun violence between two countries

“Good luck.”

Those are the only two words my freshman-year history teacher advised me when I told her that I was moving to America from Canada. It was my last day at school and in two weeks, I would be leaving my hometown of Oakville, Ontario, and moving across the continent. 

I, puzzled by her response, said thank you and moved on. It wasn’t until April 25 of this year, eight months after I had moved when we went under shelter-in-place at Palo Alto High School due to a school shooting threat that I fully understood the extent of that advice. 

Even though I grew up in Canada, I wasn’t immune to hearing about the nightmares that are school shootings happening almost every week on American news. A string of texts flooding the family group chat every time, saying ‘Thank God we don’t live there,’ and ‘Isn’t this the third one this month?”    

I never thought of myself as lucky for not experiencing a serious threat — yet here I am. I never thought that my history teacher was right for telling me good luck. That she wasn’t completely inaccurate since in 2022, there were 300 school shootings, the highest number of shootings in four decades.  

Since moving, I’m always asked, “What shocks you the most about America?” for one, it’s the fact that here, you used to practice active shooter drills while I used to practice active animal drills in Canada. My biggest concern in regard to safety at school was if squirrels were going to attack me during recess. I’m not joking. 

In elementary school, I remember that my principal explained that the only instance in which we would need to lockdown as if a wild animal wandered onto campus. The idea that a human being would be the reason was so inconceivable that it was never even discussed. At Paly, the first automatic justification for a lockdown by a majority of students is that there is an active human threat, not an animal one.  

When I explained Canadian lockdown procedures to my American friends, they were bewildered. “Not even preparing you for the possibility of an active shooter?” they questioned. 

And there lies the fundamental problem: the possibility. You prepare for an active shooter because there is a possibility of one, a possibility that is backed up by horrifying statistics and harrowing victim stories only in the United States. 

I’m privileged that it was only a threat, nothing else. However, according to the Washington Post,  the 43,450 children who have experienced an active shooter at their school in the past year are not privileged. They don’t have the luxury of packing their bags and walking to their second-period classes just like we did.

Some news sites claim that there isn’t an epidemic of gun violence in schools but rather, an epidemic of fear. Even on Fox News, reporters like to highlight that the media exploits gun violence victims and creates a sense of panic which sets the wrong narrative. But according to the Sandy Hook Promise, ever since Columbine, more than 338,000 students in the U.S. have experienced gun violence at school.  

My response: it doesn’t matter if it’s an epidemic of gun violence or gun fear: it’s clear that it’s an epidemic of guns.

— Lara Dumanli

My response: it doesn’t matter if it’s an epidemic of gun violence or gun fear: it’s clear that it’s an epidemic of guns

With the influx of school shootings, a common response is that we should increase the accessibility of guns, possibly the worst opinion yet. After Uvalde, some Texas politicians urged for teachers to be armed as they have an obligation to “protect.” 

According to the Texas Association of School Boards, “school districts can grant permission for anyone to carry firearms on campus” under Texas Penal Code 46.03. This new regulation doesn’t outline whether there should be proper training. But increasing the number of guns currently on the market increases the likelihood that gun violence occurs. 

I explained to my American friends that not practicing a lockdown in response to a human threat, it wasn’t foolish but rather unnecessary. Why would we have human threat drills when there were only 11 school shootings in Canada’s history, compared to the 16 America has had 4 months into 2023. 

These statistics don’t only represent America compared to Canada, but America compared to the rest of the world. The U.S. may be the “leader of the free world,” but it is also the leader of a world where students are afraid to attend school.