How Can You Be Thankful?

How can you be thankful when mass shootings have become a normality? Have we reached a point in society where we're desensitized to individuals being sensibly murdered by gun violence? What seems like a shooting every other week, no place seems safe.

You're not safe attending religious events. You're not safe attending a hot yoga class. You're not safe going to a bar during college night. Are we really safe anywhere? How many more countless lives do we have to lose to gun violence? Sandy Hook, where elementary school students were killed, happened six years ago, and yet we still haven't issued stricter gun laws? C'mon. This is something that could be easily prevented through gun reform and yet, we're losing more and more lives and for what, your precious guns?

Gun reform never meant stripping people of their guns nor did it ever mean abandoning the second amendment as a whole; it meant providing better guidelines and regulations, seeking extra security checks such as a mental evaluation, and making sure a weapon powerful enough to end someone's life never gets into the wrong hands. Repeat after me: "gun reform isn't meant to personally hurt me, it's meant to prevent others from being hurt."

I am 22 years old and I have lived through more mass shootings than I can count on my two hands. I remember clearly the exact place and time I was each time I learned a mass shooting had taken place in Florida, my home state. It may have been different places but the same feelings of heartache and frustration were present. Exhaustion is an understatement at this point. How can I be thankful during this Thanksgiving season when countless families are going to have an empty chair, only to be reminded of the loss they've suffered. The definition of what holidays are to these families are never going to be the same again. As much as I hope for the strength and love for these families to stay strong––Thanksgiving will never be the same again. We get the privilege of having dinner with our families, enjoying the little moments, and taking for granted what we have at times. They don't get the privilege of Thanksgiving dinners or any other days.

309 mass shootings out of 316 days, so far. That's essentially a mass shooting almost every week. I can't fathom the thought of a new year approaching as these numbers increase. According to CNN, the U.S. makes up less than 5% of the world's population, but holds 31% of global mass shooters. How can I be thankful this Thanksgiving when a part of me feels hopeless; I want this to be the end but I don't know if it will and that thought terrifies me every day.

I don't want to become a statistic. I don't want to be afraid of going to school or my job. I don't want to wake up another day where this could've been prevented and wasn't. I don't want this kind of atrocity to happen to anyone else. And don't you dare tell me I need to carry a gun because that is not the solution. Are we just going to continue sending thoughts and prayers or are we going to make a difference this time? What's it going to take, America? How can I be thankful this Thanksgiving? I'm not.

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