On Sunday, November 5th, 2017, "disgraced" ex-Air Force member Devin Kelley opened fire on the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Twenty-six people were killed, twenty more were injured, and the gunman died, leaving the town of Sutherland Springs, the state of Texas, and the entire United States with questions.
Only one month ago, a lone gunman opened fire in Las Vegas, killing 59 and injuring 546. It was the deadliest mass shooting in United States history. Sunday's shooting in Texas was one of the deadliest mass shootings in United States history.
I'm going to be 19 in December. In 19 years there have been over 60 mass shootings. I've watched coverage unfold about Newtown where 20 children were slaughtered. I watched as 32 people were killed, 23 injured following a mass shooting at Virginia Tech. I have feared concerts because I saw Jason Aldean in May and in October, 59 of his fans were murdered and hundreds more were injured at the hands of a single shooter.
Enough is enough.
Gun violence in America is a gun control issue. Gun violence in America is a mental health issue. Gun violence in America is an issue that needs to be addressed and changed.
President Donald Trump addressed the press from his 2-week trip through Asia. He hit the heavy point of mental illness by saying, "this is a mental health problem at the highest." He's right. He's wrong by saying that this wasn't a gun situation. A semi-automatic gun was used. This is a gun situation.
A white man who was court-martialled for assaulting his wife and child and dishonorably discharged from the United States Air Force had access to an AR-15 semi-automatic assault weapon. Why was he able to buy a gun, make posts about it on Facebook and then proceed to shoot up a church?
This incident could've been stopped. Yes, a very brave parishioner shot back, wounding 26-year old Devin Kelley, but this incident could've been stopped before Kelley even fired the first round. 26 people could still be alive today had there been stricter laws and background checks in place. Kelley never should've been able to acquire a weapon of that magnitude, especially with such a disgraceful military record.
The White House said that now is the time to debate gun control. They couldn't be more wrong. The time to debate gun control was in 1999 when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 students and staff members at Columbine High School in Colorado. The time to debate gun control was when Seung-Hui Cho marched into Virginia Tech and killed 32 people. The time to debate gun control was when Nidal Hassam walked onto the Foort Hood Army Base and killed 13 people. The time to debate gun control was when James Holmes killed 12 people who just wanted to see a movie. The time to debate gun control was when Adam Lanza killed his mother, massacred 20 young children who had so much love to give and massacred 6 educators who just wanted to make a difference in the world and the lives of children. The time to debate gun control was when Omar Mateen shot and killed 49 club-goers in Orlando, Florida. The time to debate gun control was when Stephen Paddock killed 58 people enjoying their lives at a country concert in Las Vegas.
If we keep waiting to talk about gun control and mental illness, we're risking more and more lives. We're asking to wake up to headlines of the 'deadliest mass shooting,' or a headline about a 14-year-old who lost her life at the hands of a classmate. If we keep waiting to talk about gun control, we're risking our own lives and our own safety.
The time to talk about gun control is now. We can't keep pushing it off.