Dear Republican Congress Members,
Last month, you experienced what was likely your first life-threatening event at work — a lockdown due to an active threat. We, the students of America, would like to welcome you to our club. It seems like our schools in the United States are far more prepared to endure an attack than the Capitol, so I figured you could use some help from the students — from the kindergartners at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, to the high school students at Saugus High School in California.
After years of fearing for our lives the moment we step onto school property, we’ve learned a couple of lessons.
Do not leave a congressional session in a huge crowd: It’s an easy target. Even if a fire alarm begins to ring, wait for confirmation that a fire is occurring before exiting the building in case someone exercising their Second Amendment right is waiting for you in the hallway. If you get a warning of a threat in the building, you should barricade the doors with desks and bookshelves, arm yourselves with scissors, and turn off the lights. In elementary school, we tell the little kids that they can only play quiet games. The silence knowing danger may be around the corner is deafening.
If the Secret Service notifies you of the danger and you have windows in your room, hop out the window and start running. However, what if there are no windows, and a very fine person enters your chambers despite your makeshift barricades? It depends. Our schools usually tell the kindergartners to run in zig-zag lines; it makes it a little harder to shoot at them.
These are tips routinely taught to kindergartners, middle schoolers, and high schoolers. I hope you never have to find them useful.
After all, the preferred order of business would be to at least attempt to solve the problem of school and mass shootings through policy-making. However, many of you with the power to do so often only offer your thoughts and prayers, not change. Could it be the National Rifle Association’s near 30 million dollars in the GOP’s pockets?
To the members of Congress who allow such NRA donations to create a conflict of interest between their pocketbooks and the lives of American students, I am disappointed.
The constant lobbying of the NRA against necessary laws to protect American students from shootings is hurting American society. Congress, especially members of the GOP, could have saved thousands of lives if the NRA’s money never appeared in legislators’ pockets. The GOP seems to be beholden to the will of the NRA, and this association is staining and limiting the good your party has and will accomplish.
In 2016, 98.4 percent of all NRA donations were to House Republicans. Ironically, in 2019, House Republicans were unanimously pro-life. These positions are paradoxical. The National Right to Life Committee claims to protect and defend “the right to life of every innocent human being from the beginning of life to natural death.” American lives should be well protected everywhere in the United States, especially in classrooms. If you are actually pro-life, change your actions to align with what that truly entails.
With every part of my being, I’m pleading with you to prove that you care about students’ well-being. I implore you to at least lighten your pockets from NRA contributions and donate your money, time, and effort to students who have experienced these shootings. I urge you to care for the safety of students will at the very least equal your passion for guns.
You’ve gone through a horrifying event that no one should endure, not Congress members nor kindergartners. Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again.
So to the Republican members of Congress, I am so glad that you are safe. But many students around the U.S. have not been so lucky. I hope that many of you will contemplate your political decisions pertaining to gun regulations after knowing how it feels to be scared to go to work.
For those of you who decide to remain blinded by money, I hope you are willing to stare into the eyes of a child, once filled with innocence and happiness, now replaced by terror and fear, and say: Run in zig-zag lines.
Markus I. Anzaldua-Campos ’24 is a Crimson Editorial editor.
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