Growing up in fear of a country with guns

Nicholas Bisulca and Maya Mitckess

Fear of violence is typically far removed from life at Lake Forest Academy; however, on July 4th, this was not the case. In fact, some of LFA’s community members were only a few minutes away from the open fire at the Highland Park parade, living in the “Breaking News.”

Returning to campus is emotional for many students after experiencing such a tragedy. It can be hard to feel safe when the attack striked so close to our school and home. Gun violence has been an issue for decades, but Highland Park was the first time a local shooting has happened in the lives of many, if not most, LFA students.

When something so terrible happens so often around the country and appears every day in our newsfeeds, it becomes normalized. However, for LFA students, it was easy to separate those headlines from a personal reality. Now, with a shooting so intimate, separation can no longer be done. At school, students practice shooting drills, a uniquely American experience. Over the summer, the Lake Forest Police Department ran a shooting drill on campus for their police officers. The drill was for their own training on how to respond to an active shooter. While LFA itself wasn’t a location of importance, it is the fact that the northern suburbs which was once thought as protected from such violence now has to prepare for the exact situation no one blinked twice at. We are the first generation to experience this, and likely not the last. 

Guns and people have existed before, but the sheer amount of modern shootings, with children as targets, is horrifying. The Sandy Hook shooting took place when most LFA seniors were second graders, the same age as the victims. The Parkland shooting took place in 2018, when current LFA students were in middle school, and began watching the news reports and reading about it for themselves. As for Uvalde, we are still hearing campaign speeches about it. We have grown up and lived with nightmares of shootings. Those fears became reality just a few towns over this summer. 

Mental health, lack of gun restrictions, and society are all criticized as factors of these modern massacres. But what are we, as children, supposed to do? We cannot pass legislation, or provide therapy for those in need. LFA valiantly tries to keep their students safe on campus. Practicing drills, hiring security guards, and installing cameras are just a few of the many things that LFA has done to mend our concern. Yet, nothing will truly put people at ease until the shootings stop.