Ava Olsen, 7, witnessed her closest friend die in a shooting on a playground in Townville, South Carolina. Now, after writing several letters to President Trump, Ava has only received disappointing replies.
According to The Washington Post, Olsen developed severe signs of PTSD and was quickly diagnosed after watching the death of her closest friend Jacob Hall when a 14-year-old named Jesse Osborne opened fire at the local school. Two others were struck by bullets at the time: a teacher and another student, both of whom recovered from injuries. Ava has since been homeschooled. It remains unclear if Osborne will be tried as an adult.
Olsen wrote a letter to President Trump asking for him to work towards keeping children safe at school, fearing for the life of her little brother.
“Dear Mr. President, I heard and saw it all happen and I was very scared. My best friend, Jacob, was shot and died. That made me very sad ... I hate guns. One ruined my life and took my best friend," she wrote.
“Please,” she concluded, “keep kids safe from guns.”
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee has touted Trump's accomplishments by reading letters from children approving of his administration during press conferences, although how many letters Trump actually responds to is unknown.
Trump did, however, respond to Ava.
“Schools are places where children learn and grow with their friends. Their halls should be free of fear,” the letter read. “It is my goal as President to make sure that children in America grow up in safe environments, giving them the best opportunity to realize their full potential. I will continue to focus on protecting Americans and improving the safety of our Nation."
“Mrs. Trump and I hold you close in our hearts,” the reply continued. “We hope you always remember that no matter what may happen, there are so many people in your life who love you, support you, and want to see you fulfill all your dreams.”
Although Ava was initially impressed, she thought harder about the response in the following days.
“He didn’t say how he could keep kids safe,” Ava told her mom.
She penned another letter: “I sometimes still think about that day in my head thinking it will happen again,” she wrote. “If you have the time, I have some ideas to help keep kids and schools safe. Sometimes people who live through a school shooting have better ideas.”
Only two weeks later would a nearby school in Kentucky face a similar active shooter situation.
“Students fearing for their lives while they’re attempting to get an education is unacceptable,” Sanders said during a press conference in the wake of the attack. Again, specifics about how to curtail these crises were completely unaddressed.
Ava's mother has chosen not to inform her daughter of the more recent shootings.
President Trump has been widely criticized for his positions on gun control. He has previously said the topic of mass shootings in the United States is a mental health issue and does not relate gun control.