“Courage is confused with picking up arms and cowardness is confused with laying them down.” – Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Well wishes are expected following a horrific tragedy and that should not change. In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting that occurred late at night on Oct. 1, many people have taken to social media to express their devastation over the event. These people, as well as politicians, have said that we should have a moment of silence for those who lost their lives or their loved ones following the horrific act.

Silence is not giving victims the respect that they deserve, though.

Thoughts and prayers are not enough to make up for the fact that assault rifles can be easily purchased. Condolences are not enough to compensate for a man being able to have an arsenal of 42 guns, and people still saying that the event was “surprising.”

Silence does not change the fact that gun violence is a pandemic and one that people are willing to sigh and say, “It’s the price that we pay for freedom.”

Freedom does not require an assault rifle. Rather than accepting the situation, it is time for us to take action to prevent further gun violence or help combat its after effects, and there are ways to do it on every level.

Rather than staying silent, we can:

1. Donate blood so that hospitals are prepared for when these horrific events take place.

2. Go out and vote — our representatives should reflect our values.

3. Urge others to go out and vote — silence makes history, but never for the right reasons.

4. Peacefully organize — one's right to bear arms is no more legal than another’s right to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

5. Keep talking — don't let it fade into another act of gun violence in our country; whether you speak, write or lobby about it, let your thoughts be heard.

It is easy to think that someone else will find a solution to the problem or for us to use the excuse, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”

Events such as the one in Las Vegas will continue to happen — that is an unfortunate truth. However, they do not need to happen nearly as easily and our words in response do not have to sound as empty if we actually make strides to effect change.