This past week, time stopped in America for a moment when two mass shootings occurred within a span of 24 hours. This past week, over thirty innocent people with so much ahead of them lost their lives due to gun violence. This past week, hundreds of people had to deal with the pain of knowing that they will never be able to speak to their loved ones again. Mother's lost their children, kids lost their parents, and friends lost their support systems. For the next few weeks, the media will cover these two stories and the way that politicians react to them. Social media will blow up with tweets such as #PrayforOhio and #PrayforTexas but that is only until the next big thing happens, the next hashtag is started, and the cycle repeats.
Nobody ever thinks something so evil could happen in their community until it does. Being from South Florida, I watched first hand how many people had their worlds turned upside down after the tragic Stoneman Douglas shooting last year. The community in Parkland will never be the same. A place that was once joked about for being the safest and most sheltered city in Broward County became known as the place where one of the most deadly mass shootings occurred. People began to live their lives in fear that at any given moment they could have their life taken from them and they aren't irrational for having that fear. After watching shootings happen at movie theatres, churches, concerts, shopping centers, schools, and so many other locations that should be considered safe, it's hard not to live life in fear.
The truth is, America has a serious gun problem and something needs to be done about it. In 2019 alone, the US has experienced over 250 mass shootings where four or more people have died. To put this into perspective, that means that the US has at least one mass shooting every single day since January 1st. Yet barely anything has been done to find a solution to this problem. How many more people have to die before a change is made?
Part of the reason it is so hard for any laws to be changed is that this country is so polarized that lawmakers can't even have a conversation about the issues at hand without attacking each other. One party is not to blame. The fault here is on both Republicans and Democrats. Both political parties have vocalized their concerns when it comes to gun safety in the US, but instead of working towards an actual solution, politicians consistently mock and ridicule the other political party. It is embarrassing to see how the grown adults that we elect into positions of power interact with each other as if they are high schoolers. Nothing will ever be done and the violence will never stop in the US unless the political parties can put their issues aside and have a conversation.
I am not arguing that the United States needs to ban all guns because I am aware of how unlikely that is. However, the fact that I, a 19-year-old girl with no knowledge of firearms, could walk into a store and buy an assault rifle right now in half of the states in this country is extremely problematic. It is easier for me to buy a gun than it is for me to buy a Kinder Surprise Egg. I understand that tougher gun laws will not completely stop mass shootings from happening, but if it can even stop just one from happening that's enough for me.
Gun violence is not a political issue, it is a human rights issue. Thoughts and prayers aren't going to stop the violence. Action is needed. People should have the right to feel safe in their communities and go about their days without being startled by any loud noise. If you're reading this, don't be afraid to speak up. Call your local lawmakers and demand change. Put the pressure on them to work harder and do better. Encourage those around you to have conversations about the things that matter to them and work to change it. By the time this article is published, another mass shooting will have happened. This is a life or death situation. Take action. #PrayforAmerica.