Why I Participated in the March for Our Lives, Columbus (And Why You Should Care)

Ok, so I’ll be honest. I’m lucky enough not to be directly affected by gun violence– my school was never infiltrated by a masked gunman with a semi-automatic killing machine, my siblings and I never had easy access to guns as kids because my parents never owned them, I’m privileged enough to live in a safe neighborhood where I never had to worry about guns being a threat, and up until the Sandy Hook shooting I had never felt unsafe at my school. And yet, I’ve for sure been indirectly affected by the sadness and fear of my fellow students across the country. Hearing what survivors of school shootings and families of victims of gun violence have had to say has really moved me and changed the way I see my country. Because of this, if someone asked me what most scared me about American society today I’d probably say our love of owning and using guns.

When the Florida shooting happened and the student survivors of that massacre were brave enough to speak up and become public figures for gun reform, I knew I had to get involved in the movement too. I knew that what was happening here in the USA wasn’t right and that we could take motions like Canada, Australia, and Scotland did after their mass shooting problems as an effective first step to solving our own gun issues. At first, I wanted to go all the way to DC to march in order to really show the strength of my belief in this issue, but later I realized I could better serve and support my local community by showing up and marching in Columbus. I had marched in Columbus earlier this year for the Women’s march, and I noticed the difference in the make-up of the two crowds immediately. This march was full of high school students, children, parents, and educators. The Women’s March crowd was mainly middle-aged women, and not even half as diverse as the crowd at March for Our Lives. At the march I realized how big our an issue gun violence is to all people— Democrat and Republican, Muslim and Christian, black and white, we are all concerned about the safety and well-being of our citizens.

What makes me most scared about gun incidents here in the US is that most of the guns used were obtained completely legally. From Walmart to a gun show, it seems like there are endless options for buying guns. Why on earth is this stuff legal? Yes, we have our second amendment saying that we need armed citizens for local militias in case of attack— but that was 221 years ago. Guns have changed. Politics have changed. Our military has become far more organized, and far more feared. There’s no need for us to form militias, and there is no need for the average American to be able to obtain an AK-15 without any background check. If you want to own a hunting rifle, ok. If you want a pistol to use at your local shooting range for recreational purposes, ok. But you should still need a background check and a mental health screening to purchase both of these weapons. And that's where voting comes into the picture. Now that I’m a registered voter in Ohio, you can bet that I’ll be screening potential candidates’ policies on firearms and choosing the people who will best serve my beliefs on gun control. I can’t wait to vote in this midterm election, and I hope if you can vote you’ll be thoughtful and deliberate in the candidates you choose.

 

Image Credit: Maggie Bradley