Valentine’s Day 2018

I hate Valentine’s Day. I never get excited for it or celebrate it. For me, it’s just the day after my dad’s birthday. And before you say I’m salty because I’m always single on Valentine’s Day and no one gives me gifts but my parents, let me just say, you would be correct, but that’s because I’m a recluse that doesn’t like meeting new people; it’s one of my most desirable qualities.

Nevertheless, Valentine’s Day, for most people, is a day to showcase and celebrate the love they have for their significant other. It’s supposed to be a day of romance full of chocolates, teddy bears, and roses. However, the city of Parkland, FL would not be celebrating Valentine’s Day, but rather fearing for their lives and ultimately mourning the loss of 17 members of their community.

On the afternoon of February 14, a 19-year-old gun man pulled up to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, armed with an AR-15 and multiple magazine clips. He then entered the school and proceeded to rain down fire on the students and faculty in that building. For the next 6 minutes, the school was filled with terror, confusion and bloodshed. In 6 minutes, the shooter was able to kill 17 people, 14 students and 3 faculty members, as well as injure almost 15 more. In 6 minutes, he terrorized helpless children and teachers and changed their lives forever. The amount of damage the shooter was able to cause in 6 minutes would, undoubtedly, have a lasting effect on those students, faculty members, their families, their community, and the whole country.

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Once again, as a nation, we found ourselves mourning the tragic loss of many lives on a day that was supposed to celebrate love. Another one, another mass shooting, another school, and another outrage. Once again, we find ourselves begging our government officials to protect us, and once again they offer nothing but “thoughts and prayers”.

In the wake of this tragedy, much conversation has been brought up about the issue of gun control. This seems to the pattern in this country after these types of massacres. However, no matter how many times we talk about it, nothing ever changes, no solutions, no policies, no legislation. The political leaders just feign sympathy until the hype dies down and everyone moves on. But this time it’s different.

Heavily influenced by the survivors of this horror, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took to social media and started a nationwide movement. They demanded change, they demanded gun reform, they wanted to ensure that this sort of tragedy never happens to anyone again. They pressured their local legislators and even the President himself. They garnered town hall meetings and press conferences. They were featured on CNN, MSNBC, and other major news network channels. These kids took their tragedy and made it their platform to bolster the topic of gun control like we’ve never seen before.

Their message was, “we are sick and tired of all talk and no action on the part of our politicians.” Listen, these kids are not dumb! They know that the people in charge of protecting them let them down because politicians are bought and managed by multi-million-dollar corporations. That’s why when they attended a town hall with Senator Marco Rubio, they asked him point blank what he was going to do to ensure that this never happens again. They also brought into question his relationship with the National Rifle Association, most commonly referred to as the NRA.

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Every time a mass shooting occurs, the NRA comes under attack, and for good reason in my opinion. The NRA has poured buckets of money into political campaigns for years, ensuring that their agenda is being achieved. The NRA has such a strong hold on our political leaders, particularly those in the Republican Party, that whenever a tragedy such as this occurs, all they can offer is “thoughts and prayers” but no actual solutions. It’s sickening! The NRA started out as membership program for law abiding gun owners that would teach gun safety, but now, they have transformed into this giant propaganda machine that does anything and everything they can to funnel as many weapons out to the general public as possible with as little restrictions as possible.

The truth is, the NRA is just as corrupted as our politicians. The NRA is funded by weapons manufacturers, makers of high powered assault rifles and the accessories that come with them. These weapons manufacturers want to maximize profit so they back the NRA to push their agenda and influence politicians to legislate on their behalf by just dumping money into their campaigns. So, when mass shootings like in Parkland, or Las Vegas, or Sandy Hook happen, politicians will come out and tell us not to politicize it (therefore politicizing it), give thoughts and prayers, and bury their heads until the story dies down. Then the NRA comes out and says the only way to stop these mass killings is to have more guns, so people go out and buy more guns, profiting the weapons manufacturers, and the wheel just keeps on spinning.

This time, however, the survivors of the Parkland shooting were not going to let that slide. They would not accept just thoughts and prayers because, frankly, IT’S NOT ENOUGH! They launched an attack on the NRA that sparked the nation. It’s amazing that after so many of these massacres, 18 in this year alone, high schoolers would light a fire in hearts and minds all over the country and may actually inspire change.

When Marco Rubio was asked if he would discontinue accepting money from the NRA, he danced around the question like Ginger Rogers. He was not willing to disavow his allegiance the giant money funnel he’s attached himself. After already receiving over $3 million from the NRA so far in his political career, there is no way he was going to let that go, after all, he is up for reelection this year. And that’s the part the gets me. These politicians will sell their soul to get campaign donations from the wealthiest of wealthy in this country, then when they get into office, they do nothing for the people that actually voted for them. Politicians are constantly thinking about funding their next campaign to remain in power, meanwhile, their constituents aren’t even a consideration to them because they are pandering to big corporations. As long as corporations keep giving the politicians tons of money, they will in turn give the corporations what they want, which is usually in direct aversion to what their voters need. So, I ask you, what good is a politician who is unwilling to legislate in the best interest of his people?

Other than the NRA and Marco Rubio, the students also reached out Donald Trump, begging him to do something about gun control. Now, Trump is known to speak without thinking and then contradict himself later. Trump assured the students that he would fight for them, even if that means going against the NRA. That didn’t happen. Instead, his proposed resolution to mass school shootings was to arm teachers. Yeah, he said that. Trump wants teachers to carry concealed firearms in the classroom so that when someone comes in with an AR-15, they can kill them with their handgun? Is it just me or is that completely insane? Never mind the fact that teachers are already grossly underpaid and can barely get enough government funding to fully supply their own classrooms, but you want to train for combat too? And who is supplying these weapons? Will they be government funded or will the teachers have to purchase them themselves? Who is going to train them, law enforcement? This is a topic for another post, but our law enforcement training has enough problems already.

Look, my mother is a teacher, in Florida coincidentally. She has absolutely no interest in guns and I don’t think it’s fair to ask her to turn into freaking G.I. Jane while also having the responsibility of teaching her students. I just don’t understand how anyone could possibly think that answer to gun violence is more guns, especially in schools. Not to mention, there was an armed guard and the school in Parkland, but he didn’t enter the school. A trained and skilled officer did not do his job in protecting those kids.

Personally, I think that we need less guns, specifically high powered, military grade, assault weapons. Weapons with the only purpose of effectively killing large amounts of people in a short amount of time. They are not necessary, there is no reason for them to be available to regular civilians, there’s just not. You can’t use them for hunting because they obliterate anything the hit. They’re not prime use for defense, you’re off with a handgun in the case of fighting off an intruder. There is just no sensible reason for anyone to have access to these kinds of weapons, weapons of war, weapons of mass destruction.

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Anytime anyone make this argument, however, gun lovers and NRA supporters say that it infringes on their second amendment rights and that the government and liberals want to take away all their guns. First of all, let me tell you something about your precious second amendment. It states that we have the right to keep and bear arms in order to form a well regulated militia should we have to revolt against our government for infringing on our freedoms. That in no way says that we have the right to stock pile assault weapons that can shoot 60 rounds a minute and kill a crowd, literally a crowd, of people in a matter of minutes just because it’s fun. That is not what the second amendment stands for at all.

And on the subject of taking your guns away, NO ONE IS TRYING TO TAKE ALL OF YOUR GUNS! All these kids, and every victim of gun violence, and anyone who has common decency, is asking for is that we make it more difficult for the wrong people to get. We have more guns than people in this country, we have the most lax guns laws by far. The Parkland shooter was able to go into a store at 19, before he can legally drink alcohol, and come out with a murder weapon! An assault rifle! Just like that, just with an ID and a credit card. And I know people like to argue that it’s not a gun issue it’s a mental health issue, but that is a lazy argument. Mental health covers a very wide spectrum of issues. Depression, mania, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, schizophrenia, autism. Not everyone with mental health issues has violent tendencies. I’ve struggled with bouts of depression since I was in elementary school and not once did I feel like I needed to shoot off 100 shots in 2 minutes to make me feel better.

And while we are on the subject of mental health, within the first 2 months of being in office, Trump repealed a sanction implemented by President Obama that made it more difficult for people with mental health issues to acquire a firearm. Even then it wasn’t completely impossible. You know you can walk into a gun show and by the end of the have an entire arsenal of weapons. Literally anyone can go to one and get an AR-15. It’s not just a mental health issue. It’s not even a Trump issue, this has been going on ling before Trump came into office. It’s a gun issue. It’s an access to guns issue. It’s an access to a specific type of gun issue. At some point, we have to see that more guns means more gun violence.

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All these kids are asking for is that you think about them and think about what you value more, your children or your guns. This is not meant to infringe on your rights to own a firearm, it is stand to take away all guns. I believe in the second amendment, I have believe everyone has the right to defend themselves. I don’t believe that you need an assault rifle to do it. I don’t believe these types of weapons should be available to the public, if for nothing else because we’ve shown that we can’t be trusted with them. These weapons do not make you more American, they do not represent your patriotism, they are weapons of war, meant to cause nothing but catastrophic damage in their wake.

The surviving students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have shown tremendous strength and bravery in this time of great tragedy in their lives. They will continue to fight this battel until it is won. They have organized marches and walk outs all over the country to protest to stronghold that the NRA has on our legislators so that maybe they can start working for us for a change. It’s time for a change. No more children should have to die. No more children should have to go to school in fear that this is the day they won’t come home. It’s time, it’s way past time.  97% of voters in the country support stronger background checks and tighter gun regulations. Over 60% support a ban on assault weapons. It’s time that our politicians start listening to the voices of the majority rather than pandering to the agenda of the very few. It’s time now! #neveragain

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