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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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295,000 Cranes Too Many

295%2C000+Cranes+Too+Many

On November 17th 2019 I woke to theNew York Times Morning Briefing. I read quick blurbs about the impeachment inquiry, how swing state voters feel about impeachment, a leak in the Chinese government, and two students shot at a school in Santa Clarita, California. My first thought that morning? Thank god it was only two people. I was stunned, yet my disbelief that morning didn’t come from the fact that students were killed in school, but that we got off so easy.

On May 25th 2022, I sat down at my desk to start my weekly update on Covid-19 numbers. I find myself writing this instead. 19 Children and 2 teachers were killed in a Texas elementary school – the most deadly elementary school shooting since Sandy Hook Elementary 10 years ago.

Sandy Hook is the first school shooting in my memory. I was 10. It was shocking and horrifying. Now school shootings are just horrifying. I thought maybe I’d be numb by now, but reading the news on Tuesday brought me to tears once again.

After Sandy Hook, my fifth-grade teacher involved us in a project she was working on with schools across the country– to rally students and community members from across the country to fold 27,000 paper cranes, 1,000 for each person who died. At the time I didn’t understand thesignificance of the paper cranes; I do now. Every class spent a week dedicated to folding them.My school folded 13,000 paper cranes. We sent them to Sandy Hook, children praying for peace.

It was a tragedy, a rare occurrence, and when it does happen everyone comes together to support those suffering. At least that’s what I thought.

How many paper cranes would we have to fold now?

Approximately 295,000.

Approximately295 students killed in school in the last 10 years.

My hands still remember how to make them, and I would fold all 295,000 if I thought it would make a difference. But I am no longer a child; and praying for peace has never been enough.

These numbers are not absolute. There is no one definition for school shooting so all the studies show differing numbers of children killed. They also don’t count mass shootings that didn’t happen at schools, like Las Vegas, Orlando, El Paso, San Bernardino – or the 10 people shot just last week at a grocery store in Buffalo.

And though shootings are still a tragedy, they aren’t rare and instead of coming together we’re pulling apart. We are fighting a war, a war that’s turned into a polarizing debate, where compromise is not acceptable, and it’s a battle of lives versus rights.

So, what’s the answer? I don’t know. But I do know something.

At Sandy Hook, Adam Lanza used asemiautomatic shotgun and semiautomatic rifle and 27 people died.

At Parkland, Nikolas Cruz used anAR-15 semiautomatic style weapon and 17 people died.

At Uvalde, Salvador Ramos used an AR-15 semiautomatic style weapon and 21 people died.

At Santa Clarita, Nathan Berhow used a1911-model pistol and 2 people died.

Banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines will lower the deadliness of mass shootings.

The nation has banned assault weapons before: in 1994 the Clinton Administrationbanned certain semi-automatic firearms and prohibited magazines that held over ten rounds. The law was flawed, it did not lower gun violence as a whole, so many consider it a failure.

However, I’m not arguing about gun violence as a whole. I’m talking about public mass shootings.Louis Klareva – professor, writer, and political commentator – found that while the ban was in place the number of mass shootings droppedby 37%, and the number of people killed in those shootings dropped by 43%.

After the removal of the ban? “a 183% increase in mass shootings and a 239% increase in deaths.”

We need a new assault weapon ban, a tighter one, with no loopholes. Yes, the second amendment protects citizen’s rights to bear arms. But these are weapons made for war – not sport – that are killing children in the place they should be safest.

This is not a solution to end gun violence. More people than I know are murdered and shot with handguns all over the country; I don’t know how to solve that problem. Even so, this isn’t about that. This is about my friends staying home from high school because of a shooting threat. This is about the inadequate active shooter drills my brother did in middle school – inadequate because they don’t trust the kids enough to tell them what might actually keep them alive.  This is about 295 kids who didn’t get paper cranes.

My favorite cousin is 10 now – the age I was when I learned to fold those paper cranes for murdered children on the other side of the country. The memory of how to fold those paper cranes is burned into my hands, and with it the memory of blood spilled. I will never be able to wash that memory off my hands, and nor would I want to, lest I forget why I fight.

But I can’t help but wonder, in another 10 years, will my cousin be right where I am now? Looking back at the protests and the marches, and still watching another generation be introduced to violence.

Update: 6/12/22.

This piece was updated as a higher death toll, the idenitity of the gunman, and the sytle of weapon were revealed.

 

Winner 2nd Place Column Illinois College Press Association 2023

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About the Contributor
Eleanor Lindenmayer
Eleanor Lindenmayer, Editor-In-Chief
Eleanor Lindenmayer '25 (she/her) is a journalism major. She started working for TKS as a staff writer when she was in her first year. She has also worked as the discourse editor and is now the Editor-in-Chief. Eleanor has also been published at Tri States Public Radio, where she was an intern and a freelancer. Eleanor was born and raised in the pacific northwest and will argue that there is no better place on this earth. Awards Illinois College Press Association 2024
  • 1st Place In Depth Reporting
  • 1st Place News
  • 1st Place Feature
Illinois College Press Association 2023
  • 2nd Place Columns
  • Honorable Mention Columns
Knox College 2023 Ida M. Tarbell Memorial Prize For Investigative Reporting    

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  • E

    Eva FullerMay 25, 2022 at 2:13 pm

    beautiful piece <3

    Reply
    • E

      Eva FullerMay 25, 2022 at 2:21 pm

      there’s no real way to properly express the weight of death like this. thank you regardless for your reflections

      Reply