It's Time for Gun Control

It's Time for Gun Control

It has been for a while now.


From the living room of my Bronx apartment, you can see a school with an American flag flying on its roof. It's a truly majestic sight, this high-flying flag. And it's a tragic sight when it's flying at half-mast, which it is as I write this, and which it was after the last shooting, and the one before that, and so on. This time it's for Thousand Oaks, where 12 men and women, many of them college-aged, were murdered. Last time it was for Pittsburgh, where an anti-semite killed 11 Jewish people at Tree of Life Synagogue.

Who knows what community they'll lower it for next time, or for how many poor, innocent victims. Maybe those victims are churchgoers. Maybe they're college students like myself. Maybe they're schoolchildren. We don't know yet. But I'll know when I get home from class one day and sit down on my couch and look out that window and see that flag flying low again, at which point I'll shake my head and say "how awful". But I'm tired of doing that. I'm sick of looking at that half-mast flag. Lowering the flag to half-mast doesn't bring those people back, and it doesn't do anything for the next victims. We need action.

Let's say we, as a country, introduce a gun control measure that stops just one person from getting gun. It's generally ineffective, but it works once, or maybe a few times. Let's say that one of those few people that are denied a gun was planning on shooting up a Mosque in an act of Islamophobic hatred. Now he can't. Dozens of lives are saved. Is it not worth it? If we can stop even one mass shooting with gun control legislation, would it not be a success?

There's a reason that mass shootings seem to be a uniquely American epidemic. It's because we refuse to take any form of action to stop them. We shake our heads, maybe even shed a tear, and say "wow, how senselessly tragic". And then we move on, until the next one, at which point we'll do it all again. That's the American way. USA, baby.

We need change. We need to prioritize action human lives over the enjoyment of having a weapon with catastrophic capabilities. We need to liberate our government of the dirty, oppressive NRA dollars, and we need to recognize the NRA as complicit in these shootings. We need to find solutions. And to have solutions, we have to have data. But, since 1996 under the Dickey Amendment, the CDC hasn't been allowed to research the causes of gun violence. And although the verbiage was changed this year in order to allow research, the government has not provided any funding, making the reform essentially useless. This has to change.

I'm fed up with looking at that cursed half-mast flag, I'm fed up with the thoughts and prayers, and I'm fed up with hearing heartbroken parents profess their love for their murdered children. It has to stop, now.

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To Kaitlin Bennett, The Girl Who'd Rather Intimidate Than Protect

A few weeks ago, a post on Twitter went viral with a girl posing in front of the Kent State University sign with an AR-10 slung over her should and this letter addresses some of the holes that are in her story.


Dear Kaitlin Bennett,

When I first saw your graduation pictures, I was floored. There you were, in your white dress, cap in hand, with an AR-10 slung over your shoulder with the Kent State University sign in the background. And coming from a small, rural, mostly conservative town, I knew how many supporters would quickly come to your side and my heart sank.

This world needs a lot of things but the presence of guns on a school campus is not one of them.

I've read news articles and have read through your twitter along with your responses to people who have disagreed with you. And despite your harsh replies and rude comments to those who disagreed with you, you still gained numerous followers.

Despite harassing David Hogg, a high schooler who survived the Douglas High School shooting, people still support you.

I understand that you believe that if students were allowed to be armed, to "protect" themselves, the shooting of May 4th would not have happened. That Kent State would not have lost the lives of four students and that nine other students would not have been injured.

But do you have any idea how many others would have been injured or killed if students had been permitted to carry the same military-style weapons that the National Guard was carrying?

I am a student at Virginia Tech and I wholeheartedly believe in gun control because of what happened to our campus on April 16th in 2007. We lost 32 people that day to an armed student. An armed student who should not have been able to get his hands on such a weapon to be able to kill that many people.

An armed student who should have been given better access to mental health care rather than to military-style weapons.

In your interview on Fox and Friends, you made it clear that you want to carry weapons as a form of intimidation rather than protection. That if you had been carrying when your group was at that rally, your cameraman would not have been assaulted. You know what this is? This is called intimidation which stems from a bullying mentality.

And the United States needs a lot of things but more bullies are not one of them.

You have mocked and bullied David Hogg on social media. You have mocked his physical appearance by calling him "skinny arms". Does that have anything to do with gun control? With owning guns?

No, but it has everything to do with what you stand for which is more bullying and superiority of a machine that can take a human life with just one click.

You said in an interview that since your post, you have received death threats which surprised you since everyone knows that you are armed. This just goes to show that publicly carrying a gun is not a deterrent.

You say you want to openly, and legally, carry weapons so that you can protect yourself. However, your actions speak louder than your words that you preach on social media. You say you want protection yet you always resort back to referring to guns as a form of intimidation.

So, if you are going to use this platform that you have created for yourself, at least get your thoughts together and use it for the good of the people rather than a bully for those who have already fought battles that you could not even imagine fighting.

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Yes, I Am From Newtown And Yes, That Is Where 'It' Happened

When you're a college student who has experienced tragedy, "Where are you from?" doesn't mean the same thing anymore.


For college students, one of the most popular conversation starters is "Where are you from?"

Six years ago, I never thought this would be a problem. I never thought my hometown would leave people speechless, would leave people at a loss of words. But on December 14, 2012, a gunman walked into my former elementary school and took away 26 innocent lives.

This past month marked six years since that dark day, and six years later, my college self has realized "Where are you from?" is no longer a question and it won't ever just be a question for the rest of my life.

Tragedy will impact you for a lifetime. Sometimes it's quiet and just sneaks up on you while you're driving or talking to a stranger. Sometimes it's loud and is all over news headlines or Twitter posts. Either way, when tragedy strikes a community, no matter what the tragedy is, it influences that community forever.

It's not just about that one day, or the one month anniversary or the one year anniversary. Tragedy is timeless. I just wish someone warned me this before I moved into college three months ago.

Confronting people about where you're from and explaining your personal story was never something that crossed my mind. Even when the school shooting happened, I never thought to myself this is going to come back up in conversation when I go to college or when I go to apply for jobs.

And now, when it does come up in conversation, people don't know what to say. Sometimes I just get "Oh, like where 'it' happened? I'm so sorry."

For young people who are currently coping with tragedy, don't be afraid to be vulnerable and have a conversation about where you're from or what you're going through. Be proud of who you are, be proud of the resilient town you call home. For young people who are interacting with those who have been impacted by a tragedy, don't be afraid to say more than just "it."

Be respectful, yet be curious and ask questions. Sometimes the "it" is an elephant in the room and just makes it worse. In fact, sometimes acknowledging what happened with more detail shows empathy and care.

More importantly, don't be afraid to stand together and create some sort of change. I encourage you to share your stories and create awareness on your college campuses for issues that are currently troubling the nation. People will follow you, people will stand by you. 2019 is near and our generation is increasingly becoming the voice of the people.

Do not be afraid to make this our generation's year to continue this stream of political activism, to create global change, and to really make a difference. We are finally experiencing the world for ourselves and seeing things in different lights. We are living independently and making our own decisions. I encourage you to embrace this adulthood, to embrace this new chapter of your life, for all that it is.

Make it your job to stay informed, go to marches, go to rallies, have conversations, and use that voice of yours, especially for those who can't.

At the end of the day, this world needs more love. And sometimes a conversation, a hug, an acknowledgment of something more than "it", can make "Where are you from?" that much easier. Because when you ask that simple question, you never know how much potential it has to be much more complex.

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