We are the children of gun violence. We are the generation of Columbine, of Virginia Tech, of Sandy Hook, of MSD. We are the children who know every exit and hiding place in our schools. 

When we were young we were taught to hide, if you’re quiet maybe the shooter won’t find you, maybe you’ll live. We got older and were taught to fight back.

Plastic chairs and textbooks don’t do a lot of good against an assault rifle, but if you’re going to die anyway at least go down fighting. 

Nina Shelanski

We are the children of sorrow and grief. We have lost our friends, our classmates, our parents to violence. We are the generation of anger because our government is failing to protect us.

Because I can’t buy a beer, but I can order a weapon similar to the Tavor X95 assault-rifle used by elite combat units in the Israeli Defense Forces online. And guess what? For $1,800 it comes with free shipping!

We are the children of hate, of racism, of anti-Semitism, of Islamophobia, of white supremacy. Yet as long as the shooter is a white male, our government won’t label him a terrorist. 

We are the children of fear. I rarely go to movie theaters anymore. At concerts I always stay near an exit. Crowds give me anxiety; if someone shoots, there’s nowhere to run. 

We are the children of ingenuity. For a cool $300 you can buy your child this year’s hottest new school accessory: a bulletproof backpack!

Of course, they don’t provide protection against assault rifles, which are more commonly used in school shootings since they can be purchased by those under 21. And, depending on where your child is hit, they may die of blunt force trauma anyway. 

We are YOUR children, and until you love us more than you love your guns we will continue to die. We will die in our schools, our concert venues, our places of worship, and our shopping centers, and you will watch us, and you will send “condolences” and “thoughts and prayers.” 

You will be “saddened by the loss” and “pledge the total support of the Federal Government.” But until you make a change, a real, meaningful change, OUR blood is on YOUR hands.

Nina Shelanski is entering her freshman year at CU Boulder following an international gap year. An occasional target and skeet shooter, she has been an outspoken proponent of common sense gun laws since the mass shooting in Aurora in the summer of 2012. 

Updated at 3:45 p.m. on Aug. 5, 2019: This story has been corrected to reflect that only a modified version of the Tavor X95 assault rifle is available for purchase in the U.S. It has also been corrected to reflect that only under very limited circumstances can someone have a firearm shipped directly to their home, according to the Giffords Law Center.

Nina Shelanski

Special to The Colorado Sun