In Their Own Words: Christian Teens on School Shootings

Maina: “Anybody else? Did you feel a certain sense in the air that things had changed?”

Andres: “Definitely. Definitely. There were more police officers, we had police officers coming from our middle school actually. A lot more people were scared about the high school because we actually had a school shooting threat at our school. A couple of kids decided to make a joke out of it and the made a “plan”, per se, and they drew up this schematic of the school and they put names, like random, just generic names like maybe “James” or something like that. And they put them around the school and they were like, circle the kids here in the cafeteria so they don’t escape or something like that. Especially after that there was a lot more tension involved at [my school]. There was a lot more police officers than ever. I think we have about five police officers around the school. I think that day we had around 12. It was really tense in the air. You could really feel the amount of people who were terrified about what was going on and I think that was the week that we had the most…parent pickups. I think we had around 673 kids picked up that school day. So it was really scary.

Maina: “It was said on Twitter recently a student your age, who said these words: ‘I am part of the mass shooting generation.’ Do you feel that’s accurate?”

Andres: “Kind of.”

Claire: “I mean, you think about Connecticut, you think about 1998 the Columbine high school, you think about, just in general I think that’s the biggest thing that’s been happening, at least in the United States that we hear about or Las Vegas and you think about all these talks about  like ‘people are getting shot.’ This has already been an ongoing thing for throughout our lives I think. I was born in 2000 so I’m sure everyone here is in that time, there’s always been some kind of like, 9/11, and I know that’s obviously not a shooting, but still, like that tension, I think and definitely, I think it is more prevalent. But now we hear more about it, we hear about it more. And like the one in Virginia, at the college. Because it happens very, pretty frequently in history I think you could consider us like a generation of fear almost, sometimes.”

Maina: “Anybody else. Do you sense that also?”

Joel: I mean, if I’m being honest, no, because I think it’s a media hype because statistics show gun ownership has been increasing since the early 21st century and gun violence has been decreasing steadily with it. And I mean, the media they love blaming guns for everything, they love demonizing guns and I think that’s part of the huge problem with shootings that we have these days. I mean like with the copycats and at lots of high schools after the Parkland shooting. I think that was part of the media demonizing guns and making guns look so scary. And I mean, violence, gun violence rates are going downhill since and these anomalies like Las Vegas shooting and the Parkland shooting, I don’t know I don’t think we can blame it on the guns. I mean mass shooting, I definitely wouldn’t call it that because the media sort of hypes everyone about these and statistics say otherwise.”   

Maina: “Got ya. Are you concerned that this may happen at your school?”

Rylee: “Yeah.”

Andres: “Not really.”

Maina: “OK, who would say they’re concerned? Raise your hand.”

(Rylee raises hand)

Maina: “Alright, just one. Rylee, you’re it. Who would say they’re not concerned about it happening at their school?”

(Andres, Tyler and Claire raise their hands)

Maina: “And who’s in the middle?”  

(Joel and Nick raise their hands)

Maina: “OK, you two in the middle. OK (pointing at Rylee). Why are you concerned?”

Rylee: “I think it’s just because I’m a very paranoid person. And l guess one of my thing was, as Andres was saying, [my school] had like a gun shooting threat and two of the guys that were in that group, were in one of my classes during one of the classes that it was supposed to ‘supposedly happen.’ And so I felt like a sense of paranoia, like oh my gosh, if this were to happen, they were sitting two seats away from me. And that was just scary to me because I grew up with like this mindset, guns are for protection, guns are for your good and just having that sense of like guns being turned against me, being turned into a bad thing just kind of uneased me a little bit.

Maina: “Did it make you feel, I think you used the right words, did it make you feel uneasy that the people who were planning to do this, they were two chairs in front of you? Did it hit close to home?”

Rylee: “It hit very close to home. A little too much than I’d like to admit. I was just so scared and like I said, I’m a paranoid person and usually think like, this is the worst thing that could happen, be prepared for that. But I was definitely uneased that’s one of the reasons I don’t necessarily feel as safe at school as I definitely used to.”