America, It's Time To Drop Your Abusive Relationship With Gun Violence

America, It's Time To Drop Your Abusive Relationship With Gun Violence

When will you realize it's not beneficial for you?
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This month, between mass shootings at schools and police officers not being convicted for killing innocent civilians, gun control has been a topic of conversation for almost everybody. For those familiar with guns, we know the power of these tools and the destruction they can bring. Whether you've fired one or just saw one on television, you know that these tools can cause serious damage to not only one person, but their family and friends for years to come. As a minority who has grown up between urban and rural areas his whole life, I'm no stranger to the .45 pistol or hunting rifle. I've held both, and feared both, because at the end of the day I know what they can do and how they can drastically change your life forever.

When I was 8-years-old, I lost my cousin to gun violence.

This started my journey into learning what guns can do to human beings and how they can affect us. Thanks to my family, I learned how to control the weapons and was taught to only use them in dire situations. Still, to this day I hold the fear of what they can possibly do to us.

When I was twenty, I lost my childhood friend to gun violence.

When you lose someone to a gun, it creates a fear and anger that is often difficult to contain. You wonder what provoked the cowardly act of taking another man's life with a firearm, and how it could've been prevented. The same way I felt when I was eight is the same way I feel today as I am now twenty. I do not like guns. I do not believe we have any valid reason to use them as civilians. I do not believe any person should be able to purchase an automatic high-caliber rifle.

Guns in urban areas seem to carry a much different weight than guns in rural areas. I find that people more so in rural areas are burying animals once a gun is shot, but I am burying a loved one in an urban area once a gun is shot. To those who own guns in areas that are not like my own, I can understand how owning a gun may seem essential to your life, but think about what's happening to those in other areas of the United States. Gun violence and control has been a subject that urban communities have fought to get a hold over for decades. As they may not get as much publicity as a protest in the public eye now, best believe people in areas like New York City, Chicago, California and New Jersey, have been fighting for the government to place stricter control on gun laws for longer than a lot of people can actually remember.

In order to understand guns, we must first understand the second amendment. This amendment held dear by many Americans (seemingly more than the lives of their own children) allows individuals to own firearms as they please. I ask you now, to understand when it was written, and understand how it was written. The first ten amendments, also known as the Bill of Rights, were accepted by the states in the year of 1789. At the time, America was fresh out of a revolution and needed a way to ensure that its citizens would not be under siege by those under British rule. The second amendment states, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

A well-regulated militia, everyone. A militia is defined as "a military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency." Individuals can create a militia, but individuals themselves are not militias. The state of emergency the United States is currently under is that of gun violence.

Over the years, America has fallen in love with these firearms for the fear of losing control or dominance over our own property and those around us. If you're allowed to take someone else's life, no matter their size or strength compared to yours, I understand that you may feel a power unmatched by any. But it's that selfish thinking, accompanied by the lack of control, and in my opinion, concern from the U.S. government, that has placed us in the position that we are in today.

Guns kill people.

Nikolas Cruz did not stab and injure 17 kids; he shot and murdered 17 kids.

My cousin and friend were not killed by knives, or by the physical hands of another; they were killed by guns.

Once you understand what guns can do to an individual, physically and psychologically, you begin to understand what the problem really is with these tools. We are not a generation of killers nor do we need to be a generation of those who fear being killed.

I should not have to watch the emergency exit in class because I fear anyone can unload a rifle magazine within seconds. No one should. My cousin should not be dead, my friend should not be dead, all the people killed wrongfully by police should not be dead, and every kid that has fallen victim to the bullet during a school shooting, should not be dead.

To those who feel the same way I do, I love you, I am here for you, and I thank you.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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For The One Who Loves Too Fiercely

I challenge you to love yourself even more
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"Her soul was too deep to explore by those who always swam in the shallow end."
-A.J. Lawless

My mom has a saying that "almost" is the same as never will be. You "almost" got the guy. You "almost" found your best friend. We "almost" could have worked out.

But it didn't.

For a lot of my life, I grew up believing that something was wrong with me. I was too loud. I wasn't funny like the rest of my family. I wasn't good enough.

People would befriend me and then walk away without notice. Guys would take interest and then not respond just when I started to catch feels.

I didn't understand why I always felt like second best to my friends instead of their first, absolute best friend. And I spent countless hours wracking my brain trying to figure out what I needed to change in order to fit the seam I somehow always lacked.

But the truth is, there is absolutely nothing wrong with me or you.

We as humans all live completely separate, yet selfish lives and each and every one of us has a different past and future that will inevitably define us.

Some of us have been incredibly blessed. Never questioning our parent's love of us, feeling financially secure in attending college or getting the next best thing.

While others of us have feared to open the pantry or refrigerator door, hopeful that something might magically appear inside. Some of us have experienced the neglect that our parental figures left us and search for love in individuals who can never give as we may need.

But there is nothing wrong with being different.

With being the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. The girl who screams at the top of her lungs and emotions deeper than others can handle. With being the girl least likely to speak up in class or approach the one who her heart desires. With being the girl who hates shallow conversations and questions the great unknowns.

And while you may feel alone in certain groups or at certain events, my greatest hope is that you may also learn to feel full from others, but at least always in yourself.

To understand the love and admiration that your true friends most genuinely have for you. To feel included, even if you may not have anything to say this time. To feel worthy even in the darkest of storms, or the gloomiest days.

Some people will never understand the emotions brewing inside of you, for they have never lived the hells you have learned to call reality. Some have never wanted to discuss the greatest struggles and triumphs of our government or lives of our society.

Regardless of where you stand in the midst of this, the center, outer corners or nowhere in sight, I hope you come to understand that it will never be because of you. My god it never was you.

Your soul is far too vast to be cherished in the shallow end.

And while you might have felt more rejection by men and women your age, the love you feel for yourself must always come from within.

I challenge you to find space in your heart to love yourself as wholly as you have attempted to love the individuals who failed you. To wait for the friends and loved ones who will appreciate you and lift you up, but understand that they can never fill you. For you can only fill yourself.

Because while you might be far too intense for everyone, you can never be too much for yourself or the people who learn to love the real you. And that, in my honest opinion will always prevail over anyone who walked away before having the chance to love the individual you so desperately want to hide, but I so desperately want to see.

Choose her over anything, and love yourself more fiercely than anyone ever could.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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