Claire Caveney Snyder

Claire Caveney Snyder is a recent graduate of Oceanside High School who spoke out during a protest march in Rockland on June 11.

I just graduated from Oceanside High School a few days ago. I’m sure when I tell people that, they think I must have been over the moon with excitement. To be fair, I was excited, but I was also apprehensive.

The way graduations are set up, it would be easy for someone with a gun to take many lives and injure countless others. We were packed together in a wide-open space with no barriers between us and someone with ill intent. Shooters look for locations where a lot of damage can be done in a short amount of time. We were a prime target.

Many people will probably think I’m overreacting, but my worries are not without cause. Not just because there have been countless shootings across the country at schools and large public areas, but also because when I was in eighth grade, there were two instances in which the middle school and high school from which I had just graduated were threatened.

There was a kid in my homeroom. I didn’t know too much about him. He always appeared frustrated and angry. This same kid was found to have brought guns into my school. He would have been around 15 years-old. At 15, he was able to get guns into my school, most likely with the intent to hurt people. He was never able to follow through with whatever his plan was, but anything could have happened. I never saw him after that. I don’t know what happened to him. I sincerely hope he was able to get the help he needed to live a somewhat normal life.

The second event was kept very quiet. Someone showed up outside the high school with a gun. To my knowledge, it was an adult. I believe he was apprehended before he ever got inside. I am so thankful to everyone who responded quickly to these events.

But these events shouldn’t be happening in the first place. Do you want to know the craziest part of all of this? At 15 years-old, I thought this was completely and utterly normal. It took years for me to understand this doesn’t happen in other countries.

It is horrendous students have to go to school and wonder if they will leave alive and uninjured at the end of every school day. What will it take for the legislature to understand kids are dying because of their inaction?

We cannot continue to allow dangerous people to possess guns with the ability to cause mass amounts of carnage. We need to save our kids, our communities, and our country from the violence that comes with a lack of gun regulation.