By Emily Dwyer
There are no words that can properly capture the sinking feeling in my stomach; the agony and hopelessness accumulating in my heart. We have been through this so many times. Each time we cycle through the same mourning period where people shout that it is “too soon” to discuss gun control. I say it is far too late- 17 people are dead. 17 families destroyed, and a community in shambles- all from something that was preventable. Each time we wait a brief period until society moves on and forgets the incident occurred, and nothing gets done. As Robert Frost put it in his poem “Out, Out-“, “And they- since they were not the ones dead, turned to their affairs.” The politicians owned by the National Rifle Association (NRA) send their hypocritical thoughts and prayers, while counting the blood stained money they’ve been purchased with. Their thoughts and prayers won’t save lives- they never have and never will. They say that these tragedies are awful and that “No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school” (Donald Trump). Well, Mr. President, you and I finally agree on something- they shouldn’t have to feel unsafe. But they do, and they will until you and your fellow NRA purchased politicians put the people who elected you, the people you are serving, before profit. Save your thoughts and prayers, and use the power you possess to save lives instead of money. As Florida shooting survivor Carly Novell spoke, “What are thoughts and prayers going to do when people are already dead?”
I am done simply arguing with people about what needs to be done. Gun control is the only way to prevent these senseless and horrifying occurrences. We owe it to the 17 people from Parkland Florida, and the entire school and community who will forever live with this gaping hole in their hearts. We owe it to the communities of Sandy Hook, Orlando, San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Aurora, Virginia, Colorado, and so many, many more. The list goes on and on, and keeps growing. A 19 year old expelled student who was deemed too unsafe to carry a backpack around school should NOT be able to legally purchase an AR-15 weapon. A person who spoke on social media that he wished to become a “professional school shooter” and made multiple threats in videos should NOT be able to legally purchase a gun. There is a reason it is called “common sense” gun reform. It should be common sense that someone with these blatant warning signs, who had been reported to the FBI months before the terrorist attack, should not be able to access weapons. When people are suspected terrorists, they are not allowed to fly. Why then can they buy weapons designed to kill? People claim that gun control will be ineffective, and that we must focus on mental health instead. While mental health should be addressed, these mental issues occur in every nation. Yet other developed nations do not have the gun violence epidemic we face in America- because they have strict gun control policies. “If there’s even one thing we can do- even if we can save one life- we have an obligation to try” (President Barack Obama).
I ask that those of you reading this to not see this is a partisan, political issue. I ask that you see this as a moral issue, as a public safety issue, and as a human rights issue. The gun violence epidemic can strike anywhere, at any venue, at any time. You have a right to mourn. You have a right to weep, to pray, to feel anger. For the sake of our country and human rights however, you must channel these emotions into action. Call your representatives. Speak out to your neighbors, family, and friends. Vote and volunteer for representatives who will change our laws for the better. You can make a difference. It is easy to let the hopelessness of the lack of previous action on this issue take a hold of you and immobilize you. Movements however, take time, but in the end are worth every struggle faced along the way. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter” (Martin Luther King Jr.).