It’s that time of year again—those few precious weeks when the trees bloom and the flowers blossom and seniors run around town on missions to assassinate one another in a “Hunger Games”-style shootout.
Despite this, I can soundly say that I won’t be an AP Assassin this year.
Sure, it may be a long-standing tradition. Some seniors see it as a fun way to spend their time before graduation. It’s even called a firsthand application of critical thinking.
But I won’t be taking part in it.
My reasoning isn’t complicated—I simply think it’s in bad taste. Not even half a year ago, 26 innocent people were shot dead in an elementary school rather close by. I know I’d feel a bit uncomfortable, mournful even, driving through Westport in an effort to shoot a fellow classmate with a Nerf bullet.
It just doesn’t sit right with me.
Since that devastating day last December, the gun has rapidly become a symbol of contention. I’ll be frank—I endorse the Second Amendment, but I entirely support comprehensive background checks for gun owners, and I also don’t think citizens should have access to military-style firearms.
But, regardless of my gun control opinion, in this post-Sandy Hook day and age, I know the absolute last thing I’d want in my passenger seat is a gun—real or fake.
Less than a month after the gruesome Columbine High School massacre in 1999, The New York Times published an article about Staples students who bowed out of that year’s AP Assassination. As the article put it, those students had decided that it “might not be the best time to lurk in bushes and hide under cars in hopes of knocking off a target, even if the deed is done with a foam dart.”
My thoughts exactly.
After everything that’s gone down over these past few months, I would feel a bit troubled participating in something that makes light of guns and weaponry. The big gun control debate has effectively consumed virtually every facet of our lives—our emotional lives, our political lives and what now seems like our daily lives.
After all that we’ve debated, discussed, developed and still have left to do, I see AP Assassination as a form of regression—following through with it affirms that we’ve made virtually no headway in recognizing the gun’s socially significant connotations.
In a recent interview, Principal John Dodig made the Staples administration’s stance on AP Assassination clear: they don’t support it.
“What students don’t understand,” Dodig said, “is the potential danger in this activity by someone in the community mistaking a toy gun or a hidden assassin as an actual dangerous event. There have been some close calls over the years with people calling the police when they see someone crouching behind a bush in the yard or someone driving by and seeing a student shoved into the trunk of a car.”
He later added, “I think this year, in particular, it’s poor judgment to be pretending to shoot high school students.”
Let me be clear, though, I absolutely do not think AP Assassination should be cancelled this year. I strongly believe in individual liberty, and I do appreciate the tradition and culture deeply rooted in this annual event. It would be a shame to entirely prevent people from participating in it.
But, at the end of the day, guns aren’t toys. It’s as plain as that.
Why aren’t we spending these weeks holding a fundraiser for families affected by the Sandy Hook shooting or something along those lines?
Why are we wasting these treasured spring days playing pointless shooting games?