Home > Uncategorized > Woodstock Vermont Student Articulates Her Generation’s Experience with Assault Weapons

Woodstock Vermont Student Articulates Her Generation’s Experience with Assault Weapons

March 20, 2018

Since the slaughter of 17 students and teachers at Margery Stoneham High School in Florida, our local newspaper, the Valley News, has been inundated with letters from parents, voters, and students. A letter that appeared in today’s paper provided an especially clear-eyed perspective on what it has been like for high school seniors to grow up in a world where school shootings and shootings in public venues are accepted in the name of allowing anyone to acquire and retain weapons designed for battlefields. For those who do not reside in our region, it might be helpful to know that Woodstock Vermont is the paradigmatic New England village, with a town common, wooded parklands, dairy farms, and a wide array of bed and breakfasts. It is idyllic. Here’s how a high school student eloquently describes her experience being raised in this small town that would seem be a sanctuary to most Americans:

A CHILD OF AN ERA OF FEAR

To The Editor: When I was 12 years old, I began scanning for exits at every movie theater I went to and carefully thought through escape scenarios as the previews played. I assessed the space between the seats and the floor. Would I be able to crawl between the armrest and the wall unseen?

That was the year of the Aurora shooting. If you don’t remember the details, 12 people were murdered in a Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colo.. They were watching The Dark Knight Rises. I had begged to see the movie myself, and as I read the headlines online, I realized that innocent people had died, and that I could easily have been one of them.

I am a child of an era of fear. Born almost exactly a year after Columbine, I grew up with the pitch black, unspoken terror of lockdown drills. Hiding in corners and closets and behind desks, as if turning the lights off will convince a killer that school’s been canceled on a Tuesday in May; as if a bookshelf will protect me from the rain of bullets driven by some arbitrary vendetta against society.

My experience, and that of my peers, has been distinctly different from prior generations. Unable to vote, and brushed off as naive when we speak up, we lie scared and unheard.

We are the children raised in a culture that denies the fact that assault rifles were designed to, and do, kill people. And we are the children who have been slaughtered as a result. Those of us who remain breathing live in daily fear that we’ll be next.

Look at the young bodies in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Imagine they are your own. Imagine going back to school every day, knowing you could be next. Now stop imagining, and for the sake of our own innocent lives, listen.

HAILEY NAPIER Woodstock

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