Students hug at a memorial at Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., Dec. 1, 2021. School systems nationwide rely on high-level expertise from the U.S. Secret Service and others as they work to stay vigilant for signs of potential student violence, training staff, surveilling social media and urging others to tip them off. However, when it comes to deciding how to respond to a possible threat, it’s the local educators who make the call. Credit: Paul Sancya AP File photo

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I’m a 17-year-old high school student, and I’m writing to ask that people support nationwide gun control.

At school, we run routine shooter drills. We learn how to blockade classroom doors and fight off armed intruders with whatever we have at hand. We plan which textbooks we will use as defensive weapons; we are told how we should run in zigzags down the hall if we are being shot at. We want to believe that these drills are pointless, but they’re not. The possibility of a school shooting is real and terrifying.

To be clear, I’m not completely against the right to bear arms. People need to be able to defend themselves and to hunt. But “arms” in 1791 meant a single-shot musket; “arms” today can mean anything from a hunting rifle to a military-style gun that is able to kill hundreds of people in minutes.

A clean criminal record is simply not enough to stop someone with the intent to kill. We need thorough background checks, licenses, magazine restrictions, and waiting periods on gun sales. We need a ban on assault weapons. These measures might sound radical to many people, but they have existed in other developed countries for years now, with overwhelming success.

Children don’t want to live in perpetual fear. We don’t want to die in our classrooms. We deserve better, and this country deserves better. Please make school a safe place for us again.

Millicent Fleming

Blue Hill