105. That's the number of mass shootings we've had in the United States this year. 105 instances where hearts beat sickeningly fast as guns were pulled out and lives were taken. 120 people who had just stepped out from their houses to grab a carton of milk, or get to their everyday 9-to-5 jobs who were unaware that this was the last day they would spend alive, were shot dead.
We've talked about the problem. We've talked, and protested, and tweeted and retweeted inspiring videos and powerful speeches on Instagram. But what's come of it? 105 shootings from January to May, 120 people lost in 129 days.
The shooting at Colorado STEM High School made it especially real to me. Listening to and watching videos of terrified students, seeing screenshots of what they thought would be their last texts to their parents, and hearing them sob into their phones broke my heart.
High school students should be going to school everyday, fearless and ready to learn. They should not have to worry about being shot in the head, being killed by a person with a gun that bursts into their classroom in the middle of the day. Thinking of my classmates and teachers being put in such a traumatic situation makes me feel utterly desolate and disappointed with our government, and the policies in place.
Kendrick Castillo, the Colorado STEM high school senior that gave his life to give his classmates time to ambush the shooter, was someone I felt connected to as a high school senior myself. But unlike me, Castillo will not be able to graduate high school and attend college in the fall. His dreams and ambitions were shaken from him by a single gunshot.
A true hero, Castillo deserves to be honored for the sacrifice he made without thinking about what would happen to him. He gave selflessly, and was the face of courage in a critical situation.
But high school seniors shouldn't need to be true heroes. Or at the very least, they shouldn't need to save the rest of their class from being shot in the head on a normal school day. In a developed country, instances like these should be few and far between, if at all, definitely not occurrences that take place nearly every other day.
As a high school senior, I want to tell Castillo that his sacrifice is not in vain. I want to tell him that me and our entire generation will fight through votes and policy change to ensure that school shootings become a thing of the past, mass shootings will become virtually non-existent, and procuring a gun will be made much more difficult than it is today. I want to tell him that students in the future will go to school without the active shooter drills, because it simply won't be happening anymore.
But how can I assure Castillo that when I can't even assure myself that there won't be another mass shooting this week?