In the Shadow of Two Gunmen

Three years ago, my freshman year of high school the entire student body held a protest. It seemed like there were hundreds of teenagers all huddled up next to each other in the cold Chicago winter, yet when the leaders of the protest called for a moment of silence, not a pin drop could be heard. It was right after the Parkland, Florida shooting and we were protesting not just the shooting, but the weak gun laws in the United States and the inability of our elected officials to do something about it. Although it seems like it happened generations ago, the story of the Parkland mass shooting is an all too familiar one not just for students but for everyone who lives in America.

 It seems like as soon as one mass shooting occurs, another takes place that makes you forget about the last, making you say things like “Which shooting was that, the one at the school or the shopping mall”? In just the past two weeks alone there have been two completely unrelated mass shootings, one in Atlanta Georgia, and the other in Boulder Colorado killing 8 and 10 respectively. One was the act of a sex-crazed racist, and the other too early to tell.

Why is this? Why is it that every other week Anderson Cooper, or Tucker Carlson, or whatever news anchor you watch, has to come on national television and tell us that a handful more of our countrymen have been killed by one of our own? Is America just a violent nation? Are we naturally prone to wanting to kill each other? Was James Madison wrong to propose the second amendment in 1787? I have no answer to any of these questions. I’m neither a statistician who’s been studying shootings for years nor am I someone who has studied constitutional law from an ivy league university. But I am a student who has had the unfortunate privilege of spending hours learning how to stack chairs against a door in case of a school shooting, and all it’s taught me is that my representatives in Congress don’t give a damn about the lives of me or my classmates. They would rather see spas in Atlanta filled with bodies than with towels and cucumbers. They would rather see supermarkets in Boulder filled with bullets than with produce. And they would rather see me and my friends lie bloodied surrounded by math tests, and backpacks than pass legislation that stops violence in our communities.

 It’s been 22 years since Columbine, 8 years since Sandy Hook, 5 years since the Orlando nightclub shooting and 4 years since the deadliest mass shooting in American history took place in Las Vegas, yet the blood continues to be spilled. Enough is enough. It’s time for our government to stop discussing doing something about it, and actually do something about it. Democrats have control of both chambers of Congress, as well as the presidency, if now isn’t the time for them to do something when is? I don’t know if the government should ban all assault rifles or if they should impose stricter background checks. I don’t know if we should be providing funding for more mental health clinics or if we should be arming teachers, but what I do know is that if nothing is done the blood of Americans will continue to spill, not just in spas, supermarkets, or schools, but onto the hands of the politicians who stood complicit while their constituents were murdered.

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