A letter to the NRA

By Ella Neel

At fifteen years old I was taught how to shelter in place from an active shooter. At fifteen I got my driver's permit. I also developed a fear of big bags, and loud noises, and developed a sense of paranoia that never left. I was fifteen on Valentine's Day when the Parkland High School shooting happened, and that day because of you, changed my and every other high schooler's life forever.

Although your tactics took countless lives before this day, this day was the last straw in declaring the gun violence in our schools an epidemic. As I sat in classes the rest of that semester all I thought about was when was it my turn to be next. A fear that never has subsided in this country. You are setting up the new children for a decades-long survival test. It is a when not an if. Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Ulvade, Michigan, the names could go on and on. Schools that were once known for football teams are now overshadowed by the fame of the slain students on their campus, because of you. Playgrounds that should be filled with natural laughter are now tied in with memorials of the students who once played there. The rage and anger that your organization brings me is immeasurable and I wish you didn't have that power over me. But you do. You do because the thirteen years I spent in school were filled with anxiety and the feeling that I could be shot at any moment.

I should have been worried about prom, getting my driver's license, going to college, etc.. Instead, when the pandemic hit when I was a junior in high school I celebrated the fact that I survived the test. I no longer was going to return to school, and I genuinely felt relief at the fact that I survived. I was never going to have to think of a student with a duffel bag, why a door slammed, or whether the screams in the hallway were from excitement or fear. All of these weights lifted off my shoulders. Oh, my friends of course I will miss them. My teachers were great, I had so much fun, but that doesn't matter because you took away that simple joy. Nothing can be simple as long as you exist. No one will be safe as long as you exist. I survived your existence in my school, but still must use caution everywhere you are. At least I was able to graduate high school first.

A former United States public school student

Meet Ella Neel

My name is Ella Neel and I am a journalism major at Marymount Manhattan College. I enjoy writing, reading, and the common things that journalists bond over: news, politics, and social causes. Some of the current topics I have been writing about include election races, PSAs, and fashion.
Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff