OPINION: Craving for Control

//Lauren Irwin//

I cried before I went to school today.

I ache for the students and teachers who lost their lives on Feb 14. My heart goes out to the families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and its surrounding community.

I cried because hearing the gun shots in the videos that went viral rang out a little too close to home.

I cried because I shouldn’t be scared to walk into my high school. I shouldn’t live in fear for my life while I’m trying to graduate. The fact of the matter is, no one should live in fear of being killed by a bullet.

Although thousands of tweets were sent out sending the Parkland community thoughts and prayers, the tweets won’t cut it. Contrary to Tomi Lahren’s tweets, this is about guns. There must be a time for action. The time is now.

According to Daily News, there have been 18 school shootings in the last 45 days. 45 days. It is a statistic that is making headline news across the country.

Lori Alhadeff, mother of 14-year-old Douglas shooting victim, Alyssa, pleads the government to “do something now,” on her interview with CNN. In her extremely emotional interview, it exemplifies how your thoughts and your prayers aren’t going to do anything.

Thoughts and prayers aren’t going to bring back the lives of the murdered. In a sad reality, nothing will. The resolution, the consolation prize, the best way to honor the lives of the murdered, is to advocate until we’re blue in the face for improved gun control.

The term “common sense gun control” is prevalent now more than ever. As much as I’d like to, we cannot ban all guns. Common sense gun control is the understanding and acceptance of the second amendment. Yet, an additional understanding and acceptance for the damage and trauma that assault rifles have cost millions of people.

I’m not saying we need to run to video game stores and burn up every copy of Call Of Duty, take away every kid’s Nerf gun and to censor movies about violence. I’m saying that the first step to preventing school shootings comes from within. Providing suitable outlets in schools to students struggling with depression will not only lessen the number of conflicted young gunmen, but reduce levels of desperation in the depressed.  

Additionally, administering in-depth background checks when purchasing any ammunition and guns is vital. For example, Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, wasn’t given a second look when he purchased more than 700 rounds of ammunition. If that didn’t raise red flags, I don’t know what will.

Lastly, we can’t stop at just the background checks. I believe that to reduce the number of mass shootings across America, there must be mental health audits. And continual mental health audits for that matter.

The way these things must be funded is through the government. As many parents of Sandy Hook victims and the most recent Parkland shooting have said, we need the government to take action. This is the first step to common sense gun control.

According to Tom McHale and Ammoland, the AR-15 was originally designed to gain commercial success and to eventually make its way into the military field. It was not designed to be smashing windows in classrooms and killing innocent students. The time is now to face the reality about assault rifles such as the AR-15.

Two years ago, Mountain Vista dealt with a similarly complicated situation. Although a gunman didn’t walk the halls of my school, I remember the threats surfacing. I read the journals of Brooke Higgins and Sienna Johnson. I had classes with them. I remember the uncertainty I felt as I walked into school the next morning, trying to go on with my school work.

Similarly to Parkland’s recent gunman, Higgins and Johnson knew the layout of their school. They knew where we would run and hide in a crisis. Nothing was stopping them from pulling the fire alarms and shooting into the windows. And in 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz’s case, nothing–even a rifle– was stopping him.

I call myself and my school lucky. We live in a part of the world with plenty of amenities at our fingertips. The news that students, who I would see in the halls and in my classrooms wanted to kill me and the other students took a bit to set in.

The reason that the deaths and another school shooting hit me so hard was because that could have been me.

There are accounts of students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who saw their “friends faces blown off.” Another account of a freshman said that she was pinned to the ground under her classmate who bled to death on top of her.

Names such as Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold and Karl Pierson aren’t said with such an easy heart around here. The country and communities ask, “when will it end?”

Poet, IN-Q addressed the situation in a slam poem. On a platform for NowThis, IN-Q called out the handful of Americans who refuse to see the problem in the shootings. The reality is, school shootings are terrorism. They should be treated with the same amount of severity and caution as a terrorist attack– because they’re exactly that.

In response, I ask, do we, as a country, as a democracy, not care enough about the lives of students, of the future generation to stop this? Where are the values for individual lives?

I ask, Cruz can do it, so what is stopping anyone else? We shouldn’t be afraid to go to movie theatres, churches, malls or schools.

I urge you to remember the names of the victims, not the shooter. They are the names we say with a heavy heart and the names we will forever associate with tragedy.

I cried before school today in remembrance for Alyssa Alhadeff, Martin Duque Anguiano, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Christopher Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup and Peter Wang.

I ask to use your first amendment right to speak out about your second. This is the time for change because I do not want to be caught up in just “another school shooting.”

 

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