Brits and Europeans, Please Stop Making School Shooting Jokes

Sunday, February 21

By Meghan Kane

TW: mentions of gun violence, school shootings

Brits and Europeans, I'm begging you, please stop making school shooting jokes. Making fun of our insane and deluded gun culture is one thing, but making jokes about a traumatic, recurring event that is on the backburner of millions who walk into school and work every week is another. Listen, I know that Americans are some of the least self-aware and most insufferable people on the planet, but if you’re going to make jokes about us, make jokes about how you can buy guns at Walmart or deep fried butter. Don’t make jokes about children being shredded apart by AR-15 bullets. I’ve seen some bold responses to this criticism, with many from across the pond arguing that they’re just “making fun of our government for letting it happen”. I struggle to put into words how angry this makes me. It’s deeply insulting and frustrating to see outsiders make jokes about how careless our government is and how little it’s moved by countless stories from survivors and loved ones of victims. Don’t you think we’ve been trying to solve the issue? Did you live under a rock when the March for Our Lives movement was started after the Parkland shooting? I assure you guys that you don't know better than us or that you could fix it yourselves, get off of your high horses. 

I've thankfully never been a victim or known a victim myself, but the issue of shootings has come too close to home on a few occasions. The year before I entered high school, an upperclassman at the time wrote a hit list and got expelled for it. I knew people on that list. Just this past year, a former student from my mom’s school district sent the schools his manifesto that included threats and photos of his firearms. Nothing ever came of it, but I don’t think I’ve ever been more scared seeing my mom and brothers head to school that week. Sandy Hook and Parkland were deeply personal because my mom is a first grade teacher in a state close to Connecticut and I was the age of the majority of the Parkland victims. I remember getting ready to go on stage at a jazz band competition when Parkland happened, my mom was frantically texting me to make sure I was okay and new headlines about it kept popping up on my phone with increasing casualties each time. I was around ten when Sandy Hook happened and I vividly remember my mom coming home extremely upset, but being ten at the time I thought nothing of it. Years later she told me how she and her co-workers had to think of a way to explain what happened to their six and seven-year-olds at school because they’d seen what happened on the news at home. I cringe thinking about how many teachers were killed in that shooting because my mom is just like them--she would do anything to protect her kids. There were a couple other times where shootings were brought to the forefront of my mind, like the time I was walking through the lobby at school without my glasses on and saw a man holding a black camera with an extended lens and my heart stopped because I thought it was a gun (needless to say my high school barely changed any security measures after Parkland), but I’m one of millions of other American kids who can tell you stories like this. 

I don't need my British and European friends to tell me how awful America is and how we do incredible amounts of harm to the world around us, I’m well aware, but you don’t need to drag in schoolchildren when you dunk on us. I and millions of others know that America absolutely sucks, but please, leave school shootings out of it because all you do is make jokes about dead and traumatized kids. If you think I’m being melodramatic, I invite you to simply Google “school shooting” and read articles about the wounds left by AR-15s and watch the videos captured by Parkland students of gunshots, screaming and crying students, and SWAT agents raiding classrooms. I assure you that we can take a joke, but at the end of the day, just think twice before making another “shot up in maths” one.

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