The Time for Change is Now

 

On February 14th, a day for celebrating love became a day for mourning when a shooting took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, leaving 17 people dead. A former student, Nicolas Cruz, carried out the shooting with an AR-15 rifle, taking lives of both students and teachers. CNBC reported this tragic massacre was the 17th mass school shooting to have taken place this year alone, and was one of the deadliest to have occurred in the last five years. 

Many are rightfully wondering why mass shootings have become the norm, and more importantly, why has nothing been done to change this. While there are many different debates about what needs to be done to prevent shootings, it is becoming more and more apparent that gun control laws might be what is necessary to make a difference. 

In Florida, the state where the shooting occurred, it is not required that you supply fingerprints, have a permit, or go through a waiting period before you can purchase a gun. In many parts of the United States, almost anyone can walk into a gun store and walk away with a semi-automatic weapon in hand within minutes. This is the same type of gun that Cruz and many others have used to carry out their attacks. Considering that guns are also used to commit thousands of homicides and suicides every year, it is time for lawmakers in the United States to look at implementing gun control. 

One of the biggest arguments against gun control is that, even if these laws are put in place, people will still find a way to procure guns or just use different weapons to go on killing sprees. While this may be the case, it does not change the fact that having common sense gun laws, such as making it illegal for citizens to purchase assault weapons or having rigorous mental health screenings in place for those who choose to purchase guns, would significantly decrease the amount of mass shootings and lives lost. Just look at Australia, where a mass shooting in 1991 drove the country to put in place some of the strictest and most comprehensive firearm laws in the world. As a result of these laws, gun violence in Australia has drastically decreased, as the country has not had a fatal mass shooting since then. Australia may be a vastly different country from the United States, but we still could learn a lot from them regarding gun laws. At the very least, Americans need to consider the possibility that gun control laws could be a huge step towards ending mass shootings. Although people might very well turn to using knives or other weapons in their attacks, they will carry out significantly less damage than can be done with an assault rifle. Gun control laws might not solve all of our problems surrounding gun violence, but they will certainly decrease them and set us in the right direction.

If gun control laws are what this country needs, then it is high time that our leaders start taking action on this issue. Emma Gonzales, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said it best when she spoke at a recent gun control rally:

"If the President wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and how it should never have happened and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I'm going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association. You want to know something? It doesn't matter, because I already know. Thirty million dollars . . . Is that how much these people are worth to you, Trump? If you don't do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you."

Our leaders send their "thoughts and prayers" and seem to show remorse that these tragedies happen, but sit silent, doing nothing to change this issue while pocketing millions from the NRA. No matter how many times our nation faces yet another mass shooting, our leaders refuse to do anything more than send their thoughts and prayers while making empty promises that things will change. Through their silence, Washington is making a clear statement that the money they are raking in from the NRA is more important to them then the lives that are being lost to gun violence. It is wrong for our leaders to call people out for "politicizing" these shootings when all we are trying to do is demand the change that our legislators are refusing to give us.

Just look at the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, who are taking it upon themselves to call out our leaders and demand reform through rallies and protests. They are not trying to make a political statement out of this tragedy; they are simply rising up to take action since the adults leading our country refuse to do so. We should take example from these brave individuals who, even though they are just teenagers, are refusing to let their voices be silenced. We should not let the pointless deaths of their classmates and teachers mean nothing. Every one of us has a voice, and whether you are Republican or Democrat, pro- or anti-gun control, you are still a citizen of the United States. And it is our responsibility as both citizens and as human beings to make sure that mass shootings are no longer the norm, and that innocent lives are not taken so meaninglessly. The time for change is now, and just sending our thoughts and prayers will not bring about that change. So let your voice be heard, and demand that this never be allowed to happen again.