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In the days after the Nashville shooting, I reached out to my friends I know who are teachers. Mostly public school teachers. The first thing I thought to say to them was this: you’re so brave.

But like, should they have to be brave? They are, undoubtedly—but should they have to be?

If you’re teaching a class full of unruly 5th graders or sassy ninth graders, you are “patient” and “noble” and “brilliant” and likely “brutally underpaid.”

But to me, you shouldn’t have to be brave in the gravest sense—you shouldn’t have to risk your life every day in the event of a mass shooting. You shouldn’t have to be constantly aware of the fragility of your young students’ lives in the classroom. You shouldn’t have to learn safety drills in the event of an intruder. You shouldn’t have to watch the innocence on your children’s faces fade as you teach them what to do if this happens. And you definitely shouldn’t have to witness the blood and massacre and trauma if it does.

And specifically to teachers from my high school, Danvers High School in Massachusetts, you shouldn’t have to learn what to do if a student tries to rape and murder you. Because yes, that happened.

The United States of America needs to ban assault weapons and high magazine guns. Period. We are behind so many other major nations in this fight. I do not care what the countering incentives are—we need to pass a bill for more effective gun control. There is nobody more important than our teachers and our children. They represent our future, yes, but they are also, simply, beautiful humans that deserve protection.

My teachers raised me. From kindergarten to senior year, they were there for me. They saw the bruises on my body. They were there to handle my bad attitude during class. They rewarded me with the As and the praise that I so desperately craved. They were the first to tell me when my work wasn’t good enough. And yet, they were the first to give me a second chance when I wanted to improve.

Our children don’t deserve to die. Our teachers don’t deserve to die. Too many children have seen blood and carnage that no one—not even an adult—should ever have to see; they are traumatized for life. Too many mothers have felt the pain that no mother should ever have to feel; their angels taken from them at a place that was supposed to be a safe haven.

Ban assault weapons in the U.S. We have lived through far too much of this. It needs to stop—now.

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