Gun control in America has always been a hotly debated topic, especially in the last week, since the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida. Although there has been a spike in gun violence throughout the last few years, we have also seen a pattern come out of that; there is a shooting, we send thoughts and prayers, we forget about it and move on, hoping that another tragedy isn't coming our way. We've learned that this doesn't work. Change needs to be made, and that change needs to start with gun control.

"It's not the guns, it's the people."

Of course it's the people! Not one person is asking for a background check on the guns, we're asking for a background check on the people. Obviously, someone who wants to commit murder can do so by means other than a gun, but guns just make it so easy. Why not make it harder for them? A lot of people have pointed out that mental health plays a role in tragedies like this. Guess what can stop someone with poor mental health from grabbing an AR-15 and murdering a large group of people? Background checks and mental health tests.

"But you're violating the Second Amendment by supporting gun control."

I understand that some people consider guns to be a hobby, whether that be for hunting, target practice, or simply to look at. I also understand that a lot of people feel safer when they have a gun in their home. Do you want to hunt? Fine. You want a gun to protect yourself? Fine. No one needs an assault rifle, plain and simple. Here's a history lesson on the second amendment: when the second amendment was put into place, the guns that existed fired one round every one to two minutes. Guns today are capable of firing up to forty-five rounds per minute. The weapon has changed and the laws need to follow suit. No one is trying to take away guns from everyone, or for good, we're just saying that a background check to make sure that someone is responsible enough to own a weapon doesn't seem like a violation of any kind, or a lot to ask for. There is a difference between Gun Control and a Gun Ban.

"Gun control won't make a difference, they won't care about breaking the law to obtain a gun."

Although I'm sure you've heard and ignored this argument before, I'm going to say it here and now. In order to buy a gun in Japan, someone would first have to attend an all-day class, followed by a written exam. These are held only once per month. Separate from this class, someone would also have to take and pass a class at a shooting range. After completing both of these tests, that person would have to go to the hospital and pass mental health test and a drug test. After passing those, this person would have to complete a background check with the police. After providing specific details on where your gun is located in your home, and where the bullets are separately stored, this person is the owner of a new gun. They would have to let the police inspect the gun once a year, and they would have to re-take the class and exam every three years. Wow. After typing all of that, I've realized that Japan has a long and lengthy, and probably pretty annoying process in place in order to own a gun. You know what? Japan has almost completely eliminated gun-related deaths. That sounds worth it to me. Australia had a mass shooting on April 28th, 1996. Afterwards, Australia enacted stricter gun laws. There has not been one mass shooting in Australia since. Don't tell me that gun control won't make a difference.

"It's not a gun issue, it's a mental health issue."

It's both, actually. That's what the background check is for. If we had a mandatory background check, people with severe mental illnesses wouldn't be able to so easily purchase guns. Every country has mental health problems. America is the only country to have seventeen school shootings in 2018 alone.

"We should just arm teachers!"

You're kidding, right? Teachers aren't even given pencils and paper to give to their students because "it's not in the budget." You're telling me that there is suddenly enough money in the budget to provide every teacher with a gun? Besides the cost of the gun, teachers would also need to be trained on how to use the gun, which is especially difficult in a high-pressure situation. Arming teachers also puts the expectation on them that they would have to risk their own safety for the safety of their students. Many teachers love their students and they would be willing to do this if they had to, but here's the thing; arming teachers with a gun puts them into a situation every day where they have to decide if, in the case of an emergency, they would be willing to die for their students. That is not a burden that they signed up for. Stop telling people that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is by enlisting a good guy with a gun.

"Let the families grieve, now isn't the time to talk about gun control. Don't politicize the deaths of the victims."

Oh, no? So when is it time? "Thoughts and prayers" was fine to say until it became the only thing being said. Yes, the families are grieving, but those same people are the ones who are going to demand justice, demand change, demand that something is done by our leaders. They will not back down and they will not rest. They don't want to. I'm saying it right now; if I am ever killed in a mass shooting, you may swiftly and immediately politicize my death in order to support gun control.

"People die from car crashes, drug overdose, etc... Where is your outrage about that?"

My outrage is not mutually exclusive, thank you.

"So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!" - Donald Trump

If I called the police and said that I would like to report an unstable and emotionally disturbed young male who has behavioral and social issues, who owns guns and who may be a danger to society, the police would tell me that there is nothing they can do, because none of those things are illegal. Donald Trump has no right to preach on reporting suspicions of mental disturbance when he is the one who revoked the Obama-Era bill that made it harder for those with a mental illness to obtain a gun. Trump accepted $30 million from the NRA in 2016. Don't be fooled, Donald Trump has been willfully bribed to stop any progress when it comes to gun control.

To the victims of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, and to anyone who has ever been impacted by gun violence, I hear you. I hear your anger, and I hear your calls for change. The youth are the future; we have a say in what comes next. Never stop fighting. There are people who know that you are not actors, who know that you are not being influenced by anything but your experiences. You are warriors, and I cannot wait to see you change the world.