Commentary

Claire Schlaman | Healing in a Shooting’s Aftermath

Now that the initial shock and disbelief has gone away, I feel as though I can (hopefully) articulate some thoughts and emotions about the senseless tragedy that occurred.

First off, I want to give my sincerest condolences and thoughts to the two victims and their families. What they went through is unimaginable, so please in this time be extra kind and loving to those around you. All those who were directly affected by this, whether it be students, parents, friends, relatives, etc., I hope that one day they can find peace after such an incident that one can only hope they never have to experience.

Secondly, huge thanks should be given to those who stepped in and assisted in such a time of crisis. The teachers, first officers, medical officials, and students themselves bravely put their lives on the line and were monumental in bringing forth aid to those who needed it. The service they did should never be forgotten.

No one ever truly thinks it will be your school or community that has to suffer through such devastation. Everyone believes they are immune. I was lucky enough that, for all four years I attended Saugus High School, the worst gun violence we had were empty threats. The students of the classes of ’20, ’21, ’22 and ’23 do not have that luxury, and unfortunately, neither do many other students from other schools. For that, I am truly sorry. 

I know this incident does not affect me directly, and I hope that those who have siblings or family members attending Saugus, or are students themselves, do not see this as myself imposing. My heart goes out to everyone who had to witness this shooting, and that one day they will get peace of mind again.

I remember that after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, brave and strong Saugus students organized a march to protest gun violence. We risked punishment if we left the school property, which a lot of us did because we felt strongly about supporting those across the country who had to suffer through something that should not even be imaginable. In that moment, our kind, but oblivious, hearts went out to those who were affected by the shooting, completely unaware that soon, our name would be added to the list of schools where unspeakable tragedy occurred.

Truly, how many more students have to die before action is taken? How do you expect high schoolers to believe that reform will be made when it wasn’t made after the first school shooting, or when 20 young children were shot while learning in Sandy Hook Elementary? There have been at least 30 school shootings just this year in America. Children should not have to worry about walking into school one day and not being able to walk out, or having to barricade themselves in classrooms with chairs and desks, hoping that the shooter won’t find them. 

Siblings and parents should not have to fear getting the text that reads, “There is a shooter nearby. If I don’t make it, I love you.” Those who witnessed what happened at Saugus have lost a sense of innocence that no one should ever have to lose, especially in the critical ages of 14-18. They saw their classmates on the ground, bloodied, shot, begging for help. You can’t keep throwing students into war zones and shooting ranges and expect them to learn. 

These students should be studying for their SAT’s, or finishing up their biology homework, not saying goodbye to their families or seeing their friends die in front of them. This should not be normal, and for the sake of future generations, I hope it ends soon.

So now, how does a community that has just lost two intelligent, bright-eyed students recover? How has any school that had to go through this recovered? For that, I do not know. But, if there is one thing I hope people gain from this, it is that action needs to be taken. Gun reform, universal background checks, mentally ill restrictions to gun access, all of it could save lives. 

Getting money out of politics, especially out of the NRA, is essential to creating a secure and protected environment. The NRA prioritizes money over the lives of the innocent, and corrupts what can be a great nation. And I know this is said every time a shooting like this happens, and then the media quiets down, and all is forgotten. Until the next one. And the cycle begins all over again. 

But it is so important to act now, because reform must be made in order to save the lives of innocent students. Please, call your state senators. Reach out to officials in your area, demanding that something be done for gun control. We must remember and honor those who suffered in the past, and vow to make a safer world for those of the future.

And also, this is not a mental health issue. And it never has been. Please stop telling other students to look for the warning signs in their classmates, or that maybe if they had been nicer to the “quiet kid,” he wouldn’t have committed such an act. It is not the responsibility of students to prevent school shootings. It is the responsibility of the government to put in place laws and restrictions that limit those opportunities for such violence.

My thoughts are with those struggling to cope with the Saugus tragedy. We must remember that we are Saugus Strong, we Bleed Blue, and will recover from this together.

Claire Schlaman is a 2019 Saugus High School graduate and current student at UC Santa Barbara.

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