Based on current statistics, school shootings are at an all time high right now. According to Everytown research, from 2013 to 2015 alone, there were 142 school shootings, which raises some obvious concerns. Maybe 10 years ago if we had a lockdown drill at WJ, the halls would be filled with whispers about an adult getting lost or a student’s medical emergency. Now when there’s a lockdown there are the usual whispers and giggles, but under the typical lighthearted humor there’s a fear. There’s a fear that a peer, a teacher, even a friend intends to shoot up the school.
I could easily justify this fear based on the sheer multitude of school shootings, the media attention the shootings get or the fact that school shootings are a terrifying prospect. However, I believe that there is no reason to fear school shooters at WJ.
Firstly, Maryland has relatively strict gun control laws. Assault weapons as well as short barreled shotguns and rifles are banned and the waiting period for buying a gun is a lengthy seven days as opposed to the usual three in a majority of states. Hunting weapons are permitted but remain highly regulated. Additionally, background checks are required to purchase a firearm to prevent any incidents of criminal activity, and most background checks are done in the FBI’s NICS database. So, by way of legislation, we are more protected in Maryland than we would be in other parts of the country.
Also, the statistics stack up in our favor. There have only been two school shootings in Maryland from 2010 to 2017, based on data gathered by Teen Violence Statistics. None of this information is to say school shootings aren’t a problem, because they’re horrifying crimes that have destroyed families and children who were taken long before their time. The point I am making is that, at WJ, I have no fear of a school shooting and I don’t think any of my peers should either.
Speaking of WJ specifically, we have a remarkable mental health program and network in comparison to the rest of the country. In response to the tragic suicide of a WJ student several years back, administration immediately gave their attention to preventing any similar incidents in the future. This resulted in the Sources of Strength program coming to WJ and assuring that students have access to helpful resources in combating mental illness, stress and trauma. Healthy mental faculties decreases the likelihood of a school shooting even more, seeing as the majority of school shooters are motivated by mental disturbances.
Walter Johnson is a tight knit, caring community that has nothing to fear from each other, especially when it comes to school shootings.