By Skylar Austell, MSU alumna and social work master's student
As a social work master's student at Michigan State University, the continued failures of Michigan's policies regarding firearms has hit close to home, yet again, in the wake of the recent MSU mass shooting.
Just two summers ago these abysmal policies failed the city of South Haven, Michigan, when brutal gun violence occurred on the south side pier, two blocks away from my childhood home while I was there visiting family. Both of the places I have called home are now places that are haunted by senseless deaths and have left myself and others feeling that no place will ever be safe.
Focusing back on the present, I am now doing my field work at a middle school in the greater Lansing area. In the wake of February 13th's horrific events, I have middle school students telling me that they are afraid to come to school; that they are having nightmares and that they do not feel safe. Looking into the innocent faces of these 12, 13, and 14 year old children, I am at a loss of what to say that could possibly comfort them.
With the epidemic of gun violence in our country, the outrageous numbers of gun deaths, and the lack of action being taken by state and federal government, I cannot in good conscience tell them that an event like those previously mentioned will not happen to them. I cannot even tell them it is unlikely. I cannot tell them that the government is working to address the issue. I cannot tell them government officials have their safety and best interests in mind.
Put simply, I cannot lie to them.
When it comes down to deciding between firearms and human life, the choice should be obvious. It shouldn’t be a choice at all.
I have been haunted for the last month by both sleeping and waking nightmares of my students bleeding to death before my eyes. I have walked around the school carrying the understanding that I would absolutely die for these kids, and the knowledge that I just might have to.
I do not want to die like that, in my workplace protecting innocent children who, if they survive, will be plagued by the trauma of the experience for the rest of their lives. I do not want to die that way, but I would.
Without question, without hesitation, I would.
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