When the Columbine shooting happened in 1999, the survivors had no concept of what a school shooting was. Neither did most of America.
“We thought there was some sort of unknown or undisclosed senior prank going on,” said Zach Cartaya, now 37, who survived the shooting and has since started an organization that helps survivors of mass shootings. “Something to do with fireworks in the parking lot.”
Twenty years later, school shootings have become a staple of news cycles, and active shooter drills have been put into place in schools across the country. School shootings have become a thing all students know about, and to some extent, expect to happen.
“It’s sort of just an unspoken fear that we all had growing up,” said Marisol Garrido, who survived the Parkland school shooting.
But even as shootings at schools have become more common, little has changed in terms of either policy or the public’s ability to reckon with them productively.
“I thought it would end after us,” said Garrido, now a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “I thought that it was enough to make any sort of change but it’s a year later. I don’t really see anything done. I guess school shootings will end when America wants to. They just don’t want to yet.”