This Incredibly Powerful Statement From A Teen Survivor Of A School Shooting Can’t Be Missed

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marysville-pilchuck high school shooting

When we think of school shootings, we often think of those directly involved — the dead, the wounded, the people who saw the gunman’s face. Desiree Palmer was not in the room at Marysville-Pilchuk High School in Washington, when freshman Jaylen Fryberg stormed into the school cafeteria and shot five other students, killing four, before fatally shooting himself. But she, along with an entire community, felt the impact.

Desiree’s story was brought to my attention by none other than Montel Williams. Williams, a proud, gun-owning conservative, recently said that he watched President Obama outline his plan to ease the suffering in this country by taking executive action on firearms — not, of course, by stripping ownership from law-abiding citizens as the NRA and its acolytes fear, but through a series of common-sense reforms.

While some cling to the idea that any reform is a sign that Obama is coming for their guns, Williams takes a more reasonable stance, as he explained via Facebook:

“I’m a proud, responsible gun owner and we ought to be the LOUDEST voices for universal background checks, for keeping guns away from criminals and the mentally ill. That is how to be a proud steward of the ‪#‎2a‬right I and so many others hold dear.”

“If I thought for a minute the goal was to take my guns, I’d oppose it,” Williams told his inevitable detractors. “I’m a law-abiding American – nothing to fear. I think the corollary to effective background checks is to make it EASIER and more streamlined for law-abiding folks to get guns.” Truly responsible gun owners, Williams says, support common-sense reforms.

The talk show legend told Addicting Info that Palmer’s story helped him form his opinions, that reading her words moved him to the conclusion that something has to be done:

I met Desiree shortly after the tragic shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School on October 24, 2014. As kids were still being escorted out of the school by armed police, I was at Chardon High School, the site of a 2012 school shooting, and my heart sank.
With the support of Desiree’s parents whom I’ve come to know well, I’ve decided to break my cardinal rule – sharing anything publicly about the survivors I now call my friends at way too many high schools because I think her voice needs to be heard.
Desiree first published this post in January 2015, right before a series of cruel fake bomb threats sent her and her friends right back to that terrible October day. When I read it, I didn’t know what to do, I wanted to yell, I wanted to cry, I wanted to rush to the nearest studio and demand action. Desiree’s words haunt me to this day, they keep me up at night, and her post is what made me realize that I could not call myself a responsible gun owner if I didn’t speak up and demand common sense safety legislation at the top of my lungs.
Desiree is doing great now and I’m so proud of her, so are her parents and rightly so. I go to bed every night praying that the next day, I’m not on a plane somewhere else to meet the next Desiree Palmer.

We agree that Palmer’s words need to be read by all. Though she was not in the cafeteria she felt the loss, lived through the terror, and still struggles to cope with the terror of that day. While it might be easy to assume that the suffering begins and ends with the victims and their families, when violence occurs it hurts everyone around.

Below is Palmer’s blog post from January 2015.

In it, you will see the strength of a young woman who knows a fear many (or most) do not — the fear that someone she knows, a loved one, a friend might pick up a gun. That friends will die far too young. That life will never be normal again.

“Fear doesn’t shut you down, it wakes you up.” –Veronica Roth

I think it is safe to say that I have always been a pretty fearful person. I am afraid of failure, displeasing people, not doing the right thing; but I have never been afraid of the actual world, until now. October 24th will be a day I always remember because it has challenged almost everything that I believe in. I wasn’t in the cafeteria and I wasn’t close to the ones we lost. Yet still, I am not okay. And I hate the response I have been getting by admitting that. People say, “well, you weren’t even in there so why do you still let it bother you?” I seriously asked myself that question for the longest time until I realized that I am allowed to feel how I feel. I feel weird, abnormal, dysfunctional, incapable, unsocial, exhausted, broken, and weak. But I also feel nothing at all.

I go to school and watch everyone pretend like things are normal.

I go to school and pretend things are normal.

And I am so sick of it.

It has been 90 days since the shooting and it seems like things are almost worse than ever…Behind closed doors, that is. I think all of us realize it, but think we are too crazy to actually believe that MAYBE it is acceptable for us to still be in pain. Teachers avoid the subject because it’s uncomfortable and parents avoid it because they don’t know what to say. Everyone avoids it because they think they are alone.

I am asking this for myself and my peers at Marysville-Pilchuck: please, someone, say something.

Say something besides “It’s time to get back to work! We have tests in May!”

Say something besides “We have to move on” or “You’ll get through it”.

We need to hear, “It’s okay to not be okay right now”, because a lot of us don’t think it is.

It is so frustrating to be in an environment that settles for the worst just because one horrible thing has happened. The most common thing I see in my community is the mindset that horrible things are going to happen and we just have to let them. Some days I am too tired to deal with the emotions, but most days, I’m just pissed off. We all need to heal, but letting fear hinder our ability to create the good things again is not helping. We have had enough taken away from us.

I have a dream at least once a week that involves me being the target of a shooting at my school. Often times, one of my peers is the one holding the gun…I think that is what scares me the most. This time, it wasn’t some “bad guy” or stranger, it was a friend to many and a family member. I can’t help but think that my dreams represent my newly-born fear of trusting other people.

I guess you just never really know these days.

I have been trying to write this post for about 2 ½ months. Every few weeks, I go back and read what I had said the last time I wrote. Each time, I try to finish it, but never do. When I started, it was November 22nd. I explained what I went through on that day from beginning to end. The second entry, was right before Christmas and at that point, I was just sad. It’s scary to watch myself explain how I have reached acceptance of reality, and then a few short weeks later, describe how I am absolutely falling apart. I have never been so confused in my entire life.

To be honest, I still don’t really know what I am trying to accomplish by writing this. Maybe someone will read it and know they aren’t the only one who feels like they’re just going through the motions every day. My hope isn’t that you understand me, it’s that I start to.

Today I am angry and fearful.

Angry that the world is the way it is, and fearful of the same thing.

“Fear doesn’t shut you down, it wakes you up.” –Veronica Roth

Desiree Palmer

Marysville-Pilchuck High School student

 

It’s easy to get lost in the debate over whether or not it is worth it to enact gun legislation. After all, we often hear that “criminals don’t care about gun laws” — or, from more callous individuals, that “your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.”

Lives lost in school shootings are not the “price of freedom” as we often hear. They are future doctors, lawyers, musicians, artists, police, and more. They are our future, which we see stripped away with every bullet fired as a result of our lack of action.

“Each time this comes up, we are fed the excuse that common-sense reforms like background checks might not have stopped the last massacre, or the one before that, or the one before that, so why bother trying,” the President said of his planned reforms. “I reject that thinking.”

“We know we can’t stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence,” Obama said — and he’s right. If expanded background checks and other reasonable reforms can stop a single act of violence or save a single life, then they are worth it. Period.

 

Reprinted with permission from Addicting Info