Christina Grimmie's Death Is Not About Gun Control

Christina Grimmie's Death Is Not About Gun Control

Remembering the talent the world tragically lost.
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A little after 2 a.m. on June 11, 2016, tragic news broke. Former contestant on "The Voice" and up and coming singer, Christina Grimmie, had died. She was shot while signing autographs at a venue in Orlando, Florida after performing Friday night. Many people were commenting on the news articles detailing the event about how guns need to be eliminated or how America is so stupid because of our guns. Someone even said that the guy who shot her had to be insane because he killed himself. But how does the guy who shot her killing himself prove anything? Sane or not, if you shoot any celebrity, regardless how known they are, you know you aren't going to have much of a life afterward. That doesn't prove anything except that he was a scared coward. He knew he more than likely wasn't leaving that venue alive.

Have you ever shot a gun? Have you ever really felt that scary power it offers? No sane person wants to pull the trigger with the intent of killing someone. Has it been noted anywhere that the gun was legally his? Should America have stricter laws when it comes to people obtaining guns? Absolutely, even though it probably wouldn't make much of a difference. Drugs like meth and cocaine are illegal, but people still have access to them. However, to say guns are the problem is ludicrous.

If you wanted to kill someone, you could kill them without a gun. Knives, water, bare hands, car accidents and many more intentionally harmless ways to die are possible. No one says blame those things. I mean, we blamed Adolf Hitler, not the gas chambers. We blamed Al Queda and Osama Bin Laden, not the planes. But somehow, when someone dies from a gun, suddenly the weapon is the problem.

Perhaps because guns are the only thing out of that list that people are truly afraid of, probably because they don't understand them. We don't offer gun safety classes in schools, but we do focus on drugs, gangs and even CO2 poisoning. Just about every kid in America completes the D.A.R.E. program before finishing the fifth grade. Never were guns a part of learning other than that they are dangerous and to leave them alone. Guns should never be taken lightly because it truly is a serious issue, but to blame shootings on guns seems crazy.

Before a post I commented on regarding Christina's death was deleted, someone asked me what I would tell her parents since I don't think guns are the problem. I would tell them that they had one of the greatest gifts in the world and I would thank them for sharing her and letting her share her gift with the world. She really was someone special. Her loyal fans made it possible to get her to the top and she died doing what she loved.

I would tell them that through it all, she always stayed humble, thanked her fans and made videos showing her appreciation. You could always see the excitement in her eyes when she talked about her fans. I would thank them for instilling all of that in her. I can only hope and pray, that even in the midst of this grave tragedy, that people learn from her. They help instill these values into their children and help to show the same kind of humble behavior even in the shadow of something of scary.

I would tell them that I am so incredibly sorry for their loss. I would tell them that I am praying for them, not just for what they're going through now, but in the coming weeks, years and for the rest of their lives. The issue isn't really that a gun killed her. The issue is that a talented artist died. Everyone is wanting something to blame. Sometimes, people make the object to blame their focus point in order to overcome the actual issue at hand.

What we all should be focusing on is Christina. The music world lost an amazing, young, talented artist who was just starting out. She died doing what she loved. Her actions will always be remembered and her loyalty to her fans will always be one of the best things she offered the world. Be humble and kind, be a Christina.

Cover Image Credit: Justin Higuchi

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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To Fix Taxes, We Have To Rethink 'Wealthy'

"Wealthy" doesn't mean the same for everyone.

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When discussing taxes today, so many politicians are quick to rush to the adage "tax the rich." Bernie Sanders has called for the rich to be taxed higher to pay for Medicare for All. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called for a 70% tax on the wealthy.

However, all of these proposals are missing a key thing: a true definition of rich.

When thinking about what counts as rich, it is important to distinguish between the "working wealthy" and the "investment wealthy."

The working wealthy are the people in society that get paid highly because they have a high skill set and provide an extremely valuable service that they deserve just compensation for. This class is made up of professionals like lawyers, doctors, and CEOs. In addition, the working wealthy are characterized by another crucial aspect: over a long term calculation of their earned income over time, they don't come out as prosperous as their annual incomes would seem to suggest. This is because this set of the wealthy has to plunge into student debt for degrees that take years to acquire. These jobs generally also require a huge amount of time invested in lower-paying positions, apprenticeships, and internships before the big-money starts coming in.

On the other hand, the investment wealthy is completely different. These are the people that merely sit back and manipulate money without truly contributing to anything in society. A vast majority of this class is born into money and they use investments into stocks and bonds as well as tax loopholes to generate their money without actually contributing much to society as a whole.

What makes the investment wealthy so different from the working wealthy is their ability to use manipulative techniques to avoid paying taxes. While the working wealthy are rich, they do not have AS many resources or connections to manipulate tax laws the way that the investment wealthy can. The investment wealthy has access to overseas banking accounts to wash money though. The investment wealthy can afford lawyers to comb over tax laws and find loopholes for ridiculous prices. This is tax evasion that the working wealthy simply does not have access to.

That is why it is so incredibly important to make sure that we distinguish between the two when discussing tax policy. When we use blanket statements like "tax the rich," we forget the real reasons that the investment wealthy are able to pay such low taxes now. Imposing a larger marginal tax rate will only give them more incentive to move around taxes while squeezing the working wealthy even more.

Because of this, in our taxation discourse, we need to focus first on making sure people pay their taxes, to begin with. Things like a tax of Wall Street speculation, capital gains taxes, a closing of loopholes, and a simplification of the tax code. These things will have a marked improvement in making sure that the investment wealthy actually pays the taxes we already expect of them now. If we stick to the same message, the only thing we will be changing is the rate that the uber-wealthy are avoiding.

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