Over the last several months the gun control debate has been alighted anew in the United States, largely due to the tragedy in Parkland, Florida that left seventeen dead. While it's good that the conversation has continued and that changes are being made, it shouldn't have required seventeen deaths to get this movement started.
My generation has never known a world where mass shootings weren't considered a norm. I was born just over a year after Columbine, so lockdown drills have always been a part of my life. Just a few weeks ago my school did our first "ALICE" drill (which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate), in which an announcement was made over our intercom system saying that there was an intruder in a specified area.
Based on that, our teachers decided whether to lockdown or evacuate. If they chose to lockdown, we also had to prepare to counter: not only would we lock and barricade our doors, we would also grab anything we could (like textbooks or desk chairs) to use as weapons. Knowing that it was only a drill didn't make it any less surreal, or any less terrifying.
But kids aren't just in danger in their schools or in public places like movie theaters. They are in danger in their homes, on their streets, and in their neighborhoods. According to The Brady Campaign, 46 children and teens in this country are shot every day, with around 7 per day dying from their wounds. If we're going to be talking about gun control we can't just talk about the mass shootings, because those aren't the only sources of gun violence in this country. There are people that have been fighting this for years, but only now are people starting to listen.
It angers me that we are at a point in our society where active shooter drills are required to ensure our safety at school, and that there are people who are afraid to walk down the street because of the dangers posed by gun violence. I hate wondering in school everyday if I'm going to make it home, and I hate the wave of panic that goes over me when I realize that I forgot to say goodbye to my sister and hug my brother before school in the morning, because I can't guarantee that they will come home that day.
I hate that these things still happen in America because we can't be bothered to tighten gun regulations the way that other major countries do when there is a tragedy like this. I hate that there are children who die every single day, be it in school, in their homes, or walking around their neighborhoods, that die of gunshot wounds. I hate that this is a conversation that we even have to be having in our world today, and I hate that it's already uprooted thousands if not millions of lives, and that there's not much I can do to prevent any more right now.
For the future, however, there is something that we can do. We can encourage our elected officials to vote for common sense gun laws, such as those that would require universal background checks and ban assault weapons and bump stocks. If they won't vote for these things, we can vote them out. We can run against them. We can do any combination of these things and more. As long as we do something.