An ever unnecessarily contentious subject, U.S. mass shootings have risen to such prevalence that now institutions of education all across America are incorporating ALICE training and ALICE drills into their school days.

The ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training provides faculty members with preparation and a plan of action in the case of an active shooter. The ALICE training extends beyond schools; it is available for several different types of organizations- businesses, healthcare facilities, government, houses of worship, and more. It is the top active shooter civilian response training.

And now, students in schools are participating in ALICE training drills. Large chunks of time are scooped from the day, dedicated to informing children and teenagers alike about what to do in the instance of an active shooter.

And while it is prodigiously advantageous to be prepared, it is also colossally infuriating and devastating that this sort of drill is actually necessary. These are children in school. They should not be worrying about getting shot or scared of what they would do in the instance of a person with a gun being inside the building. The perturbation of children, ideally, should be limited to disputes with friends, being tardy to class, completing all of their homework, or other lightweight troubles. They should not have to think about the last text they’d send to their parents, how it would feel to see a friend killed, whether barricading the doors is better than running, or hearing gunfire precede screams down the hall. The very fact that this sort of disquietude is held by many teenagers is abhorrent.

School should be a place of learning and fun, a place where kids may go to gain knowledge, socialize, participate in sports and clubs, focus on their education, meet people, try new things, and above all, feel safe. It is bad enough that numerous students across the country already feel unsafe due to issues such as bullying, problematic teachers, or other general negativity associated with school, but genuine fear of being shot and killed is not even in the same category.

At a place children are required to attend by law, where the main purpose is supposed to be learning, they should not be worrying about dying. Parents (and guardians) should not have to dwell on the possibility that they might receive a good-bye text from their kids during the middle of the day.

Mass shootings are far too frequent in this nation, and regardless of how an individual feels about guns, it should be indisputable that reform of some sort needs to play a role in the federal response to the prevalence of these horrific events.

The fact is that, yes, the second amendment holds value. American people are entitled to carry a weapon to defend themselves. The issue arises when any random person is able to attain access to weapons. The argument at hand is not that guns should be banned entirely, just that gun control needs to be implemented. A nineteen-year-old man (who was expelled from high school) with a history of mutilating small animals should never be able to get his hands on a semi-automatic rifle.

AR-15 guns were originally developed for military use, designed to help the user reload quickly in combat situations. After the assault weapons ban expired in 2004, AR-15 rifles were reintroduced to the public by gun manufacturers. A bullet from an AR-15 travels at a higher velocity than most handguns. The .223-calibre rounds often shatter inside victims’ bodies, making the wounds more devastating. And now, they are among the most popular types of rifles in the country. They have been frequently used in mass shootings, along with other semi-automatic rifles. But it is not solely AR-15 guns. Any gun with an innate, adept ability to kill that is commonly utilized in these mass shootings should not be easily attained, and that includes deadly handguns.

What many pro-gun advocates fail to see is that gun control should not affect responsible gun owners. If an individual owns a gun for recreational purposes (hunting, camping, collecting) or for just self-defense and protection, then legislation that prevents mass shootings shouldn’t be of concern to them. A semi-automatic rifle’s capacity to fire at fast rates, one designed for fast reloading in combat, is not needed by an American hunter, camper, or collector. It is not needed for protection.

One could argue that handguns kill more people, but since the problem is mass shootings, handguns are not the gun in focus. Handguns couldn’t kill as many in as little time, and that’s the essence of why people are worried. It is certain types of fast reloading guns that make mass shootings possible. The perpetrator doesn’t have much time before being apprehended, but with rapid reload firearms, they are able to fire off several shots and injure or kill many in a short period.

Gun control laws will merely – hopefully – restrict the pool of people who obtain these weapons to those who are levelheaded, stable, and mature. For example, banning bump stocks (attachments that allow semi-automatic firearms to shoot at a more rapid rate) was a great step in the right direction.

The safety of the American people should always take precedence over anything. Regardless of how protective an individual is of their right to bear arms, how can one reasonably, sensibly argue that that right is more important than actual lives? Especially when looking at the alarming frequency of school shootings. Children should not be at risk of being shot while they are at a place to learn, grow, and just be kids. In 2018, out of the 340 mass shootings of the year, 24 of them were school shootings, which totaled 28 students whose futures were stripped from them. That number should be zero.

And so far in 2019, there have been 316 mass shootings in America (as of September 29) and over 313 deaths. People have lost their lives. This shouldn’t be a matter of politics at all. But unfortunately, having basic morals has turned into a political thing, stemming from the stark and trivial division that exists in America.

So while gun control is vital, this is not an argument for Democrats. And it is not an argument against Republicans. It is merely a plea for regulation from a scared American teenager who wants to feel safe in school. The safety of this nation’s youth is being neglected for nugatory political rivalries, and that needs to change.