In the past couple of weeks, I have tried to compose my thoughts before writing or even publishing an article about the events in Parkland, gun control, and mass shootings. I did this in order to truly understand the debate that has shaken our government the past month to its core, and demands for reform. I took my time to listen to the arguments from both sides, and from then, I would construct my thoughts and opinions.
Last week, as the Parkland teenagers encouraged the nation-wide "School Walk Out" I sat in my seat during my 10 AM class, wondering if I should partake. For my university specifically, the Walk Out was barely spoken about, so most students either were not aware it was even occurring or they had no idea what it was. After my professor highly encouraged anyone who was thinking of going to feel free to attend, I decided to walk out of my class twenty minutes early, curious and anxious.
I was totally unaware of what I was walking into. On my way to the middle of campus, where my fellow students who also walked out would convene, I began to think about why I was "walking out". First, I was not guilty of missing the last couple minutes of my other class, because when you are a college student, the world is your classroom. As a student of a school that is rarely to never politically active, I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn and observe others taking part in political activism, something I have rarely seen in my entire life. But more importantly, I thought about the victims of Parkland, Florida. I thought about their friends, their families, and their school that will never be the same ever again.
I walked out in their honor. I walked for the futures that they could no longer have, finishing the rest of high school and beginning universities, maybe even my own. I walked out with all my thoughts and prayers, what everyone else would criticize as insignificant, on my shoulders. Because with every step, I could not help but pray that these victims are in a better place.
As I arrived at the middle of campus, I was surrounded by signs that read: "Never Again" or "Are We Next?" I felt my stomach turn as I began to realize the other's reasons for walking out of class. Throughout the course of the couple minutes I observed, I heard multiple speakers mention their opinions about gun laws and restrictions in order to protect our schools. Despite the artistically beautiful poems, speeches, and other heartfelt messages, I failed to recognize their objective of the Walk Out.
I wondered if this was all just another public outlet that was acceptable for people to ridicule politicians and other Americans who disagreed with them politically? And if so, this was a movement that I did not wish to be a part of. And that is not because I disagree with their message, which is to assure that Parkland is the last mass shooting within a school, because any person, regardless of political background, agrees with that statement. I disagree with the notion of disregarding people who do not agree with you simply because of their political opinions.
I want a movement that is willing to listen to opinions from both sides, that is willing to ask questions, challenge others, and offer bipartisan change to ensure safety for all Americans. I want a government that calls in gun experts to clarify the capabilities of certain gun models before creating laws. Because mistakes without proof and evidence will only cause more problems and loopholes for the future, and that can possibly allow another atrocity to happen. And as I previously mentioned that, no one wants that. I want a movement that genuinely and strategically wants to solve the problem at hand.
Until then, this will only continue to be a screaming match between both sides, and nothing will ever contribute to the most effective change that both sides want to accomplish.