When will enough be enough

Ellie McDowell

More stories from Ellie McDowell

It takes a village
April 19, 2023

Instagram: @michiganstateu

One of the many images posted by MSU and in support.

This story contains discussions of school shootings and violence.

I am scared and angry. I am tired both physically and emotionally. I don’t know what to do anymore.

Those are the exact words I used to start a column a little over 14 months ago about the school shooting at Oxford High School. Now, I am starting a column with the exact same words today because on Monday February 13th at 8:18 p.m., shots were fired in Berkey Hall at Michigan State University (MSU). A short time later, more shots were fired in the MSU Student Union. Four people were killed in the 67th recorded school shooting in 2023, including the gunman who was unaffiliated with the school. May I remind you, we were less than 50 days into this year.

I can’t help but think about the kids at MSU who graduated from Oxford last year. I can’t imagine the fear they felt when they received the text from the campus police telling them that yet another gunman was taking the lives of kids at their school. I can’t imagine how their parents were feeling when they got the texts telling them it was happening again. I can’t imagine the trauma that these students will hold onto after not one but two mass shootings altering the course of their lives.

I can’t help but worry about the physical and emotional state of the 47 FHC grads from the class of 2022 alone. I spent hours Monday night listening to police scanners and watching live broadcasts and texting my friends, praying that everyone was okay.

Now, as I sit in the library of my high school writing this column, I can’t help but let my mind wander to my future. The time for me to make decisions is getting shorter and shorter. At the end of last week, I was on the campuses of the two colleges I’m considering, wondering if the same thing might happen at my school.

Do I feel safe on campus? Does the area off campus feel safe? Are there resources if something happens? How close is the nearest police station? What is the school doing to make sure students are safe? These are all things I have to consider a little more heavily than I did before.

Valentine’s Day was the five-year anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida. This anniversary opened with another school shooting. So, what is being done to stop it?

We send countless thoughts and prayers, but as I wrote in my last column on this topic, those do nothing except make victims feel brushed aside. Every single MSU student I know is terrified. They spent countless hours last night updating friends and family on their safety and what was going on.

Between the time the first shots were fired and the suspect was found dead three miles off campus, three hours passed when friends and family off campus couldn’t be completely sure what was going on. Images of the suspect were released to the public after the 11:00 p.m. news briefing.

Over that three-hour period, several things were posted on Instagram and other social media outlets that said things like “Prayers for MSU” and “My thoughts go out to those barricaded in classrooms at MSU.” Here’s the thing, though. Thoughts and prayers aren’t helpful when thousands of students are unsure of whether or not they will make it through the night. Thoughts and prayers aren’t helpful when students are being evacuated from their dorms and classrooms, still unsure of where the shooter is.

I will admit, I’m guilty of sending prayers, too. Late Monday night, I posted this on Facebook: “This is insanity. When will it end? Enough is enough. Prayers for friends and family on campus. Stay safe MSU.” At this point, I was sitting on my bed crying on the phone with one of my friends. Both of us were anxiously listening to news broadcasts and hoping that when they finally released the names of the victims, we wouldn’t recognize any of them.

I am sick of jumping every time there is a loud bang. I am sick of jumping out of my seat every time there is an unexpected knock on the door. I am sick of sitting in my classes waiting to hear a gun go off.

I won’t deny responsibility. It’s easier to sit back and send thoughts and prayers than it is to do something, and I know that. I also know that sometimes the hard thing is the important thing. I go to college in a few short months. I don’t want to be the recipient of thoughts and prayers from my family and from lawmakers because I don’t want to have to barricade myself in my dorm.

Dear MSU, you are not alone.

Dear Oxford, you are not alone.

Dear Uvalde, you are not alone.

Dear Parkland, you are not alone.

Dear Sandy Hook, you are not alone.

Dear Columbine, you are not alone.

Dear every victim of gun violence, you are not alone.

Enough is enough. I am sick of walking into school terrified for my life. I am sick of sitting in my car in the parking lot hoping I remembered to say “goodbye” and “I love you” to my parents. I am sick of jumping every time there is a loud bang. I am sick of jumping out of my seat every time there is an unexpected knock on the door. I am sick of sitting in my classes waiting to hear a gun go off.

A mass shooting is defined as an incident in which four or more die from gunshot wounds. In the last 53 days, we have had 82 mass shootings in America. That number should be zero.

For years, I have been confused about why no one is doing anything to protect students. It feels like the government is turning a blind eye. When one of these shootings happens, they send thoughts and prayers—they say they are working on it—but since Columbine, we have had too many shootings to count.

I’m feeling brushed aside. I’m feeling ignored in my fear and my anger. I’m feeling enraged by the blatant disregard from the government for students’ safety.

I am scared and angry. I am tired both physically and mentally. I don’t know what to do anymore.

And, I want to stop writing columns like this.