Police cars surrounded my high school as I walked fast across the street to the science building. Eyes were glancing in many directions. The slight panic—bordering on hysteria—was obvious.
Hundreds of students stayed home, but I did not. Why? Because the threat was safely locked away in jail.
Four months before the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, my own school in Cherokee County, Georgia, was under serious threat in October from two 17-year-old students.
Together, the two juniors at Etowah High School planned a Columbine-style attack using explosives, law enforcement authorities said.
But campus police and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office learned about the pair’s plans ahead of time through a tip, and reacted immediately to the first report. The two students are charged as adults with attempted murder and other offenses.
If that threat had not been stopped, many people at my school would be dead. It could have been me, my brother, my closest friends, or all of us.
But it was stopped. We are alive.
Having this perspective, my heart was shattered into pieces when I heard the news Feb. 14 about Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. I have been praying for all of the students, teachers, and families who are going through hell right now.
“Take away gun rights. Something needs to be done,” my friends keep telling me.
Yes, something absolutely does need to be done, but not that way.
Reports and tips need to be taken seriously. Death is an unchangeable thing, and anyone who jokes about it is sick. A threat is not a joke; it is illegal, and it demands an immediate response.
Next, teachers should be trained and armed with guns, if they choose to be. I am constantly hearing friends say that if teachers were armed, they would be too scared to shoot back. That is an offensive statement, and it needs to stop.
A coach at Douglas High died because he ran into the shooting and jumped in front of a bullet. How could anyone say that man would have been afraid to shoot back? He chose to die so his students didn’t have to, yet people say teachers would have been hiding if they had guns.
Taking away gun rights isn’t going to help the cause. Immediately after our Founding Fathers listed our God-given rights, they decided that every American’s right “to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Everyone needs a way to defend himself or herself. I realize that many people simply want to add restrictions to buying a gun for everyone, which I thought seemed reasonable at first until I researched it.
Some of the most infamous shooters were approved to buy a gun because their previous felonies had not been reported to gun shop owners. Those shooters should not have been approved, but they were.
The system of background checks needs to be tightened to include felons and those who courts say are mentally ill.
Taking away Second Amendment rights from everyone is not the solution.
Nicole Martin is a freshman at Etowah High School in Woodstock, Georgia, northwest of Atlanta.
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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Etowah High School in Georgia, where students pictured in 2003 praying at a flagpole before class. (Photo: Robin Nelson/ZumaPress/Newscom)