Students speak out about the impact gun violence has on their daily lives

Tragically, school shootings have become all too common in America. While the attack at a Uvalde elementary school is the deadliest in nearly a decade, it's also the 27th school shooting this year alone. Our national network of young reporters who are part of our Student Reporting Labs asked their fellow students ​​what adults should know about growing up in this era of gun violence in schools.

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  • William Brangham:

    Tragically, these school shootings have become all too common in America.

    While the attack at the elementary school in Uvalde is the deadliest in nearly a decade, it's also the 27th school shooting this year alone.

    Our national network of young reporters — they're part of our Student Reporting Lab, asked their fellow students what grownups should know about what it's like growing up in this era of gun violence in schools.

    Here's some of what they had to say.

  • Kate McClellan, Student:

    We had a fire alarm Monday go off.

    And there are two girls in front of me. And they just asked, what if this isn't a drill? And we all knew they weren't talking about a fire. Kids in America don't hear a fire alarm and fear fire. They fear a shooter. They fear that it's a trap they're walking into.

  • Zoe Chase, Student:

    It makes you kind of grow up really fast, in terms of, like, coming to terms with your mortality, which is something someone my age, I don't think, needs to do right away.

    I feel like I shouldn't have to be like every morning, OK, this could be it for me. I could die today.

  • Emily Porter, Student:

    I think about where the best place to go in a classroom would be. I think about what classrooms are the worst to be in.

    And it's damaging to anybody's, really, mental health to have to worry about that, students and teachers.

  • Syncere Lumsden, Student:

    I feel like teens nowadays feel like it's cool to play with guns and kind of have it in their videos. So, I think guns are being promoted in a way to look cool on social media, in which I think that right there is already a big red flag, because no children should be having any guns in their hands.

  • Yanke Wang, Student:

    I'd like to say that it affects us greatly, but the unfortunate reality is, I think we have mostly gotten really numb to them. They just happen so often. You see them in the news all the time. It no longer really has that much of an impact on us anymore.

  • Zoe Chase:

    The Parkland shooting, I remember feeling a little disconnected in like a, oh, it can never happen to me kind of way. Like, it's awful that it's happening to these people, but I don't think it'll ever happen to me.

    And then it happened in Oxford. And I was like, oh, my God, this could happen to me. Like, that was 20 minutes from where we live.

  • Theo Hunt, Student:

    At my own school, we had a smaller shooting. And everyone was just really silent for the whole week. And we canceled school. But you could tell everyone was on edge. And it was really traumatic, if I'm being honest.

  • Kate McClellan:

    Our school runs the mandatory drills every single year. And every single time, there's a group of about 20 to 30 students who run into our play shooter, and nothing ever happens.

    We don't rerun them. This is a problem.

  • Maddie Hanes, Student:

    But every time that there's a new one, they let us know that we're safe here. They let us know what they're doing.

    But, in reality, they can't do anything if people are still allowed to get guns. They can't do anything if we're still feeling unsafe.

  • Yanke Wang:

    Recently, we saw Ted Cruz saying that the solution was to have less doors at schools. I think, when we do things like that, we don't give the issue the seriousness that it needs.

    And I just want elected officials to take the issue a lot more seriously than we currently do.

  • Theo Hunt:

    Right now, with gun ownership, it's really easy to get — pass your background check to get a gun.

    So, not only, I guess, stricter background checks, but also mental health checks, or routine mental health checks, would probably be good.

  • Dakota Hendren, Student:

    The procedures we have in school directly correlate to what's going on in the news. If there's no new school shootings, the procedures die down and people don't care as much about enforcing them anymore.

  • Maddie Hanes:

    It's a cycle of helplessness that we can't really get out of, and it just needs to stop.

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