December 17, 2018

Hey, Alexa: Why should I care about gun control?

I find it disturbing that I don’t even flinch when a CNN Breaking News alert pops up on my phone to inform me of another mass shooting in America. Even when the shooting is in one of my favorite cities or even my own, I do not bat an eyelash in surprise.

It worries me deeply that I, and so many other Americans, are becoming desensitized to gun violence. It is not normal for someone to shoot 58 people dead and injure 489 more at a concert in Las Vegas. It is not a freak accident that there have been 188 school shootings since 2000. I do not accept that there are as many guns as there are people in the United States.

On Nov. 19, a gunman shot four people dead including himself at a Mercy Hospital in Chicago. Hearing this reminded me that no place in America is safe from gun violence, not even a hospital. Fourteen people were shot dead on Nov. 9 at a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif. I cannot even comprehend spending a night at the bar with my friends only to hear gunshots and having to dive to the floor in hopes that I can make it out of the bar alive.

Growing up, my extended family encouraged gun ownership for protection and hunting. I was taught how to responsibly shoot various guns. Whether it was a handgun or a shotgun, I was prepared to defend myself in an emergency. When I was young, guns seemed fun and innocent as long as you knew how to use them safely.

As I’ve grown older, my opinion on civilian gun ownership has changed dramatically. I’ve read stories in the news of children accidentally shooting themselves or someone else because their parents did not properly keep their guns out of their reach.

Civilians should not be able to buy military grade weapons. The AR-15 rifle has been used in mass shootings like the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14 of this year that left 17 students and staff members dead. When fired from close range at civilians who aren’t wearing body armor, the bullets from an AR-15 don’t just penetrate the human body — they tear it apart.

It baffles me that over half of the nation seems to show zero concern for the fact that there is literally a march titled “March for our Lives” which arose out of the outrage that since Columbine, 223 school children have been killed at the hands of gunmen in America. School children, parents and others with a basic moral compass are having to literally beg their legislators for common sense gun reform.

Many politicians claim these mass shootings stem from a failure to address mental health issues in America. I would agree that this is a part of the problem, but I have yet to see a single one of these politicians push for mental health reform or even laws to make it more difficult for those with diagnosed mental illness to buy a gun in America.

Until the politicians that represent us stop accepting millions of dollars in donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA), these mass shooting will not slow down anytime soon. Our lives are controlled by government and corporate lobbies and as a result, Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs are banned in America while assault rifles are not.

I’ll be blunt, at this point I don’t care about protecting the second amendment. If it means saving even one child from being massacred in their own school, one college student from watching their friends get gunned down in a nightclub or one concert goer from watching gunshots rain down on them out of nowhere, I will enthusiastically sacrifice every right I have to own or buy a gun as a civilian. I don’t see a gun helping a school child, a college student at a bar or a person attending a concert to defend themselves against someone with military grade weapons opening fire on them.

It’s common sense that ordinary civilians with no training on how to properly handle a gun should not be allowed to own them. The bare minimum reform I would ask our legislators to accomplish include more intensive background checks, limiting the types of guns civilians can purchase and requiring those interested in purchasing a gun to pass a safety course and exam in order to own a gun. All of this is the bare minimum, and we cannot keep waiting around to give our thoughts and prayers to the next victims of a violent mass shooting. We have wasted too much time and too many lives to not start making real policy changes right now.

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