I was teaching in a public high school classroom the day that two heavily armed students walked into Columbine High School in Colorado and shot 36 people, killing 15 of them. My students and I watched in horror as aerial news footage showed blood-splattered students fleeing the building. I looked around at the 15 and 16-year-olds under my supervision, watching a piece of their innocence shatter.
The thought of preparing for such terror ourselves didn't cross our minds, though. It was a terrible tragedy, but it was a fluke. A one-off. An anomaly.
Then came Red Lake, Virginia Tech, Marysville, Umpqua, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Santa Fe, and more.
"School shootings" have become a thing—a distinctly American phenomenon. After every single one, the U.S. has exploded into debates over guns and rights and what should be done. And after every single one—even after 20 six- and seven-year-olds were shot to death in their classrooms—federal gun legislation has never gotten off the ground.