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How Does a Community Deal with the Aftermath of a School Shooting?

Support for victim Claire Davis swells in Colorado after Arapahoe High tragedy.

When the automated call came on Friday, my stomach knotted. As I watched reports of terror unfold at Arapahoe High School, just miles from where I live outside of Denver, CO, another angry student was wielding a gun. The robotic voice on my phone reminded me just how close to home this violence had come—my daughter’s neighboring high school was locked down. Unlike the anxious parents gathered outside Arapahoe High, I knew the measure was a precaution. And still, the idea of not being able to reach my daughter, to hug her close, brought both pain and heartfelt empathy for the families at Arapahoe.

Inside my daughter’s school, kids tried to study for finals with guards standing at classroom doors. Many students tried to contact close friends over at Arapahoe. They huddled together and reminded each other that theirs was a safe school. Outside Arapahoe, a shocked mother repeated the same words. At my husband’s workplace, just a few minutes from the high school, a co-worker spoke on the phone to his wife, a teacher still hiding inside the school.

As Newtown marked its one-year anniversary over the weekend, reports about the Arapahoe shooting clarified that one student was shot—and that the gunman intended to hurt more. Have we hit a tipping point for gun violence, now that it’s the go-to solution for angry teenagers?

Today my daughter is buying a T-shirt at school to support Claire Davis, the 17-year-old shooting victim who remains in critical condition after being shot in the head. I’m as proud of our community’s support for Claire as I am saddened by the violence that has touched us all. But what will we do to stop it from happening again?