TheGrio reached out to African-American teens across the country to share their thoughts on the aftermath of the Parkland massacre, the gun control debate and why they are participating in the national school walkouts. Jordan Kunney is a senior at The Paideia School in Atlanta, GA.

I was laying in my bed scrolling through my Twitter feed when I first heard about the Parkland school shooting. As I came upon the headline, I almost scrolled past the words.

“Another school shooting again,” I said to myself.

I had become so desensitized to mass shootings because they seemed like they were almost every day occurrences. As I read the news about the shooting, I got a text from a friend asking if I had heard about what was going on in Florida. After I told him that I had just read the news, he told me that he had a friend that went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. From that moment on, I felt more connected to the event than any other shooting. I began to repeatedly text my friend to see if he had heard from his friend. After a long, intense thirty minutes, my friend finally received a text from his friend in Florida saying that he was safe. I was incredibly relieved and comforted by the good news, but as I saw the death toll increase, I felt a deep wave of anxiety start to build.

Something told me that this was not the last shooting.

Before the shooting in Parkland, Florida there had been 18 other school shootings in America this year alone. The idea that in this country a minor can legally buy a gun but cannot fight for their country or even vote is insane and irresponsible. Moreover, our government is now trying to make it worse by arming our teachers. Our government is willing to fund training to arm teachers in the classroom and I believe will cause even more deaths. Imagine your favorite high school teacher having the responsibility to end another student’s life.

Is this the type of country we want to live in? I believe we should be trying to save lives not destroy them.

Because of our Second Amendment rights, I know it is impossible to ban all guns, but I believe we should have extremely strict gun control laws. I believe all automatic guns and rifles should be banned for civilians. It is unnecessary for civilians to own anything other than a handgun to protect themselves.

On March 14th I joined in on the nationwide walkout at my school. At the walkout, students as young as thirteen expressed their ongoing fears about a potential attack at our school. Our school has an open campus and the doors are rarely locked so we are very vulnerable to attack. We as a school decided that changing our nation’s gun laws needs to happen now. As an 18-year-old young man, about to go off to college, I don’t want to have the constant thought of wondering if my school will be next.

READ MORE FROM OUR SPECIAL SERIES:

Walking out for Chicago: “I witness the cycle of lives taken by gun violence and I will not back down”

Walking out for Philando Castile: “Even the illusion of holding a firearm as a black person can get you killed”

Walking out for Peace: “Instead of focusing on my education I worry about my life”

Walking out for Family: “Hopefully my uncle’s passing serves as inspiration for gun reform”

Walking out for Safety: After being shot at for refusing a man’s advances this teen is fighting for change

Walking out for Trans Students: “I’m hyper vigilant because I want to make sure I don’t get shot”

To continue the conversation on National School Walkout Day, check out TheGrio’s social media platforms on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #Iwalkbecause.

PHOTO CREDIT: (from left to right) Lila Chiles, Ahmad Abdur-Rahman, Camryn Salter, Frankie W., Esete G., Channing Russell. (all photos courtesy of subjects)