What Leading A Gun Control Walkout Taught Me About How The American Media Works

Last Year, I Led A Gun Control Walkout And Learned Something About America's Media

People listened to the hyper-focused media instead of people who participated.

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A year ago around this time, I hosted a walkout and demonstration at my high school. It was on March 14, 2018, a month after the Parkland shooting had happened and 17 people had their lives violently stolen from them. Kids like you and I and educators that were committed to more than teaching, but also the livelihoods of their students. These people were murdered in cold blood for such an unexplained reason.

These shootings continue to occur all over.

Since the Parkland shooting that my classmates and I walked out for happened, a school shooting has happened almost every 12 days. A school shooting in America happens almost once every two weeks — let that sink in for a moment. A gun is violently brought onto a campus that is supposed to be a safe environment for kids to learn. Instead, that place has been turned into something scary and evil because of these weapons being brought in and utilized around the country. Kids all around the world are scared of the ultimate what-if: "What if I'm in school and there's a shooting?"

I know in high school, my peers and I talked about it fearfully very often. It's a scary reality that this generation of teens has to face.

At the walkout, we didn't discuss gun control but rather how to actively fix a problem that goes beyond government interference. A problem that goes beyond legislation and instead how people deal with each other in daily life. Nowadays, we seem to be in constant defense mode. Everything offends someone or triggers someone. At the walkout, we talked about how to be kind to one another and how we thought we could fix this problem with our own actions and not those of the government.

Obviously, this walkout was done at a very controversial time in the country, which led to a whole lot of backlash from peers and community members.

While there was an overwhelming amount of support that filled my heart, there was a lot of hate that followed. There were people that assumed we hosted a walkout only to skip class (keep in mind some of the brightest minds at my high school attend the walkout) and a debilitating amount of people that criticized the school for allowing students to demonstrate for gun control. But, the reality was that gun control was never discussed at the walkout. Here's the real problem: People assumed instead of listening.

People listened to the hyper-focused media instead of people who participated.

The problem with American society is we are so quick to assume. Just like people were quick to assume that my peers and I huffed and puffed about gun bans and gun control; meanwhile, none of that was discussed at the walkout that I hosted. The problem that has persisted in America is that the media hyper-focuses on one major travesty at a time, but then it quickly changes its scope with the American people following suit.

That's the problem we're facing America.

Many like to say that news is twisted and fake, but the real problem with the news is that it isn't thorough. The real problem is that we follow issues for limited amounts of time because the media only follows these issues for limited amounts of time. With this, I bet you didn't know that a school shooting happens every 12 days here in America. Instead, we're focused on "Trump said this and Trump said that."

So, America, here is my proposition to you: Choose the issues that you think need a resolution or need to be addressed in full heart. Don't bandwagon along with the media. If impeaching Trump is your focus, follow it. If gun control is your focus, follow it. Whatever it may be on whatever side of the political spectrum, follow it. Without some commitment and passion, our democracy is doomed.

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Dear Senator Walsh, I Can't Wait For The Day That A Nurse Saves Your Life

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

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Dear Senator Walsh,

I can't even fathom how many letters you've read like this in the past 72 hours. You've insulted one of the largest, strongest and most emotion-filled professions.. you're bound to get a lot of feedback. And as nurses, we're taught that when something makes us mad, to let that anger fuel us to make a difference and that's what we're doing.

I am not even a nurse. I'm just a nursing student. I have been around and I've seen my fair share of sore legs and clinical days where you don't even use the bathroom, but I am still not even a nurse yet. Three years in, though, and I feel as if I've given my entire life and heart to this profession. My heart absolutely breaks for the men and women who are real nurses as they had to wake up the next morning after hearing your comments, put on their scrubs and prepare for a 12-hour day (during which I promise you, they didn't play one card game).

I have spent the last three years of my life surrounded by nurses. I'm around them more than I'm around my own family, seriously. I have watched nurses pass more medications than you probably know exist. They know the side effects, dosages and complications like the back of their hand. I have watched them weep at the bedside of dying patients and cry as they deliver new lives into this world. I have watched them hang IV's, give bed baths, and spoon-feed patients who can't do it themselves. I've watched them find mistakes of doctors and literally save patient's lives. I have watched them run, and teach, and smile, and hug and care... oh boy, have I seen the compassion that exudes from every nurse that I've encountered. I've watched them during their long shifts. I've seen them forfeit their own breaks and lunches. I've seen them break and wonder what it's all for... but I've also seen them around their patients and remember why they do what they do. You know what I've never once seen them do? Play cards.

The best thing about our profession, Senator, is that we are forgiving. The internet might be blown up with pictures mocking your comments, but at the end of the day, we still would treat you with the same respect that we would give to anyone. That's what makes our profession so amazing. We would drop anything, for anyone, anytime, no matter what.

You did insult us. It does hurt to hear those comments because from the first day of nursing school we are reminded how the world has zero idea what we do every day. We get insulted and disrespected and little recognition for everything we do sometimes. But you know what? We still do it.

When it's your time, Senator, I promise that the nurse taking care of you will remember your comments. They'll remember the way they felt the day you publicly said that nurses "probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day." The jokes will stop and it'll eventually die down, but we will still remember.

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

Please just remember that we cannot properly take care of people if we aren't even taken care of ourselves.

I sincerely pray that someday you learn all that nurses do and please know that during our breaks, we are chugging coffee, eating some sort of lunch, and re-tying our shoes... not playing cards.

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Gun Violence Is Real, And People Don't Come Back

The conversations of gun violence, reform, and background checks always come with some form of one-sided opinions.

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Within the firearm realm, there lies a dangerous loophole within our federal gun laws. This loophole exempts unlicensed sellers from having to perform any background check whatsoever before they sell a firearm. With the growing rate of gun violence, many are left wondering why.

The conversations of gun violence, reform, and background checks always come with some form of one-sided opinions. Many of the opinions root from morals and not factual information causing tension when the issue is brought into any conversation. Citizens have the right to guns. Therefore, there should not be any background checks to keep citizens from expressing their rights. Opposing opinions are based on the issue of how important background checks are in preventing gun violence from Americans who suffer from mental illness. Recently in New Zealand, an act of terrorism using firearms occurred. With 72 hours Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that many of the citizens have already surrendered their firearms to local police stations and new reforms were already being passed. News left many Americas wondering why new gun reforms have not been passed and what can be done to prevent another act of violence.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is well known for voicing their opinion on gun rights. The NRA is highly effective in lobbying and campaigning against any legislative proposal for the control and restriction of firearms in the country. Members of the association believe that placing restrictions on firearms will not prevent violence but would benefit others in the high-risk situation. For example, the NRA believes that the only solution to firearm attacks, such as the Orlando shooting in 2016, is to address terrorism head-on, not take away the rights from law-abiding Americans to defend themselves.

The NRA has successfully placed barriers to prevent funding to support, research, and advocate gun control. They lobbied a law known as the Dickey Amendment that prohibits the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to use research funding to perform studies on gun control. Before the reallocation law, the CDC found that gun ownership increased the risk of homicide in the home. Organizations like the NRA firmly believe in their second amendment rights. They will continue to protest and lobby against politicians who want to build restrictions on firearms.

According to a survey done by Quinnipiac University in 2018, 97% of Americans supported background checks, leaving many wondering why they are not required when purchasing a firearm. Groups, such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, advocate for more restriction on firearms. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is a group of diverse individuals that are part of different religious organizations, social justice organizations, and public health professionals. Their mission is to stop gun violence through the use of research, strategic engagement and effective political advocacy. Their main goal is stopping the NRA from promoting violence and creating a safer country for the next generations.

Yes, mental illness does appear in some mass killers, but research and evidence have suggested that violence by people who are mentally ill is rare. Those with serve mental illness are more likely to commit suicide using a firearm. Jeffrey Swanson, a psychiatrist professor at Duke University, studies violent behaviors and states that "People with personalities inclined to violence are usually obvious to their peers and coworkers and have a history of antisocial conduct, they often progress to deadly violence after committing smaller acts." People who are more inclined to perform acts of terror do not just start at committing gun homicide crimes but slowly work their way up.

Swanson conducted a study and found that 8.9% of people who reported having a gun in the home also said they engaged in violent behaviors. Anger is what drives people to commit crimes. States like California, Indiana, and Connecticut, have restricted perpetrators of less violent crimes, such as assault and battery, from buying guns. They have also temporarily taken firearms out of the hands of owners that have committed crimes until they can make a case in which they no longer pose a threat to their community.

With increasing numbers in gun violence, citizens of America want answers. Gun advocators and organizations will not stop protesting until they see an act of change in gun policy. While the opposing individuals and organizations will continue to fight for their second amendment right.

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