The Audacity of Blaming Victims at Santa Fe High

Alec Faraday, Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the opinion section of The Baltimore Sun.

Some politicians offer merely thoughts and prayers after tragedy (See “More thoughts and prayers,” which appeared in The Sun on May 21, 2018). The students at my school offer less than that.

I was in class the moment news broke of the shooting at Santa Fe High School, and admittedly, for a moment, I was numb. I’ve lobbied my congressmen before as an advocate for gun control. I’ve participated in a mock congress in which I pushed a gun control bill, nearly lashing out at other mock committee members who did not understand my point of view. I have always been a staunch supporter of gun control and one who is unwilling to compromise on the issue. Yet at this moment, I was numb.

I feel I could end this letter here and it would still have the intended effect. Here I am, a Maryland high school junior, for once just wanting to shut up, turn my mind off, and ignore what has been consuming me ever since I’ve been politically aware.

That fleeting moment of numbness completely left my mind the instant a fellow student, one I considered a friend, berated gun violence protesters. She cited this supposed idiocy of the protesters’ attempts to “take away their own rights to defend themselves” and said that if we banned guns, we would have a knife problem “just like in Europe,” never mind that our mutual friend, an exchange student from Germany, was telling her how that wasn’t the case.
She said that if they succeeded in taking away guns and then got shot, “it was their own fault.”

I go to high school in the bluest state in the nation, and here was a teenager who on a day of tragedy had the audacity to participate in the greatest possible form of victim blaming. It wasn’t even the first time this sort of thing had happened at my school either. The day of the March for Our Lives on March 14, a girl posted a video of her shooting an automatic weapon on her Instagram.

“I’ve always kind of felt that eventually it would happen here, too,” a survivor of the Santa Fe shooting said. I wonder what the children at my school would say to that.