A 12-year-old boy has written his will in the event of a school shooting
In the wake of the tragedy of the Parkland school shooting, in which 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 students and wounded a further 17, the United States has been forced to re-evaluate its policies on the availability of firearms. The Stoneman Douglas massacre was so egregious that it threw American's problem with violence in schools into sharp relief, and now an atmosphere of anxiety hangs over American classrooms. Of course, this particular incident was merely the latest successor in a long and bloody lineage of campus violence, which includes infamous shooting sprees such as the Virginia Tech massacre, Columbine, and deadliest of all, the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, which left 20 students dead.
Yet, it seems to have had a profoundly shocking effect upon the national psyche, not just in terms of politics and social activism, but in terms of psychological damage to minors, who will have their education disrupted by the fear and suspicion cast by the Stoneman Douglas incident. How much has it rattled America's youth? Apparently, enough for one sixth-grader, terrified about losing his life in an imminent school shooting, to write up a will in which he bequeathed his few treasured possessions to friends and family.
Javon Davies, a 12-year-old boy who lives in Birmingham, Alabama, hastily scribbled his own last will and testament after his middle school received a threat and was placed on high alert. Several schools in the Birmingham area were affected by gun violence in the preceding weeks. On March 7, Courtlin La’Shawn Arrington, a 17-year-old high school senior, was shot in a classroom at Huffman High School by fellow student Michael Jerome Barber. Huffman High School is located approximately 20 miles away from Javon’s school on the other side of Birmingham. The very next day after this homicide, a handgun was found in a locker at the Bush Hills Academy during an unannounced search, which led to the suspension of two eighth-graders.
Javon gave the precious document to his best friend for safekeeping “just in case something happens, because some kids get rowdy up and might end up getting somebody shot or something [sic]." Javon and his best friend, Cameron, wrote several further letters to each another, which meticulously listed the possessions they would bequeath one another if they were to perish in a shooting. Javon apparently left Cameron his PlayStation 4, a number of his favourite video games, his television and his cat. He signed off the document by writing: "Dear family, I love you all. You gave me the clothes on my back and you stuck with me all the time. Love, Javon."
When Javon's mother Mariama Davies saw the will she was deeply moved by her son's actions, specifically due to the fact that he was so frightened that he was prepared to plan for the unthinkable. She posted an image of the document to social media, where it soon went viral and attracted the attention of local news reporters. In an interview with CBS, Javon almost seemed blasé about the possibility of violence erupting in his own classroom, and simply stated: "I know it’s gonna be okay because God got me in his hands."
In the same interview, Mariama stated: "I could not believe it yah know. I mean my child is in the 6th grade. This is something he should not be thinking about. It's really hard, because he's so young. He just shouldn't have to go through that period because - for what? He's in sixth grade. You have a lot ahead of you and these things going on, you shouldn't have to worry about, go through or even think about."
In response to the public's fears over the prevalence of gun violence, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act on March 23, which aims to strengthen the requirements for reporting information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, will allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to spend money on research into firearm-related violent crime and will provide $2 billion of grant money to train school employees and law-enforcement officers to identify signs of potential violence, as well as provide schools with security measures - such as campus guards and metal detectors.
However, the bill did not ban the sale of bump stocks or assault rifles, which for many anti-gun activists is an inadequate response to the ongoing crisis. On March 24, approximately two million people in the United States participated in the March for Our Lives protests against current gun ownership laws, which made it one of the largest protests in American history. It remains to be seen whether laws will be changed enough to have any effect. But in the meantime, the survivors of Stoneman Douglas have made it clear that they have a voice - and that they demand to be heard.