America Has A Gun Problem And We Need To Talk About It

Every time this country experiences a horrific tragedy, Americans bicker back and forth on whether it’s the right time to talk about the issue of gun violence. We often hear comments like, “It’s disrespectful to the victims to talk about gun control so soon!” or, “Stop politicizing their deaths!” However, every time we let a mass shooting occur without taking steps to prevent future ones from happening, we are telling the rest of the world that we value the second amendment more than we value human lives.

I have lived in America for a total of 12 years. During that time, this country has experienced some of the worst mass shootings that the world has ever seen. We all remember Virginia Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Pulse Nightclub, Las Vegas, Parkland, Pittsburgh, and Thousand Oaks. And those are only a few; it’s almost like nobody is actually safe from gun violence. In fact, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a total of 307 mass shooting incidents have occurred in the United States this year. It’s time to work towards creating policy that will prevent innocent people from losing their lives in the future.

My parents came to this country because they wanted my brother and I to live the American Dream. Moreover, they came to this country to escape a government that allowed the murder of innocent civilians. So, what does it say about us, as a nation, when we refuse to take action in order to keep people safe? How do we call ourselves the greatest nation in the world when we have nothing to offer but our thoughts and prayers to the families of those whose lives were cut too short?

It’s no secret that most Americans have become desensitized to tragedies because of how often they occur. It’s no longer surprising when we turn on the news and see that someone walked into a school, a movie theatre, a concert or a church and stole the lives of those who were present. We have fallen into a routine where we simply offer our condolences and move on with our lives. However, we forget that the victims of these shootings and the families and friends of those who were killed do not have this luxury. They are forced to live with the pain and emptiness of losing a loved one for the rest of their lives. Unlike us, their lives are forever altered by injuries, medical bills, depression, anxiety and PTSD.

I feel so sad when I think about those who have lost their lives to gun violence. I think about Joaquin Oliver, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School whose parents came all the way from Venezuela with the same hopes and dreams that my parents had. I think about how his life was so easily taken away from him. I think about Nicholas Dworet, another senior who spent his entire childhood training to be the best swimmer that he could possibly be. Before that fateful day on February 14, 2018, Nicholas had announced that he was given a scholarship to attend his dream school, the University of Indianapolis. Little did he know, he wouldn’t live to see the fruition of this dream. Lastly, I think about the first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School who were probably too young to grasp the evil that was about to take place in front of them. I think about it often: how it can happen anywhere and you never know when it could be your last hug, last kiss or last goodbye.

To those who are no longer with us, I am so sorry that we couldn’t protect you. My heart is so heavy when I think about how the last moments of your life were filled with so much pain, cruelty and violence. I will dedicate the rest of my life to using my voice because yours was unjustly stolen from you.

America, we have to do better. We owe it to them and we owe it to each other.