Following the traumatic shooting in Parkland, Florida that claimed the lives of 17 young adults, students across the country are emerging as strong advocates for strengthened gun control measures. On March 14th, thousands of students nationwide participated in a unified demonstration, honoring the lives lost to gun violence, and calling for common sense gun control laws. A 17-minute walkout (1 minute for each life claimed in Parkland) from classes sent a powerful message to the rest of the country: students want to feel safe.
Clocking 17 school shootings in 2018’s 11 short weeks, the United States eclipses other developed nations in terms of number of shootings, as well as rates of gun ownership per citizen. Data compiled by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and reported on by NPR shows that you are more likely to be shot by a gun in the United States than you are in Yemen, Syria, Sudan, and Libya, and are almost as likely to be shot in the US as you are in Iraq. Research conducted by the Small Arms Survey shows that the United States has the world’s highest rate of civilian gun ownership. The next closest countries are those that require civilian military service.
It is not difficult to conclude that too many guns owned by too many people compounded by too much ease of acquiring a firearm leads to too much violence. So, when is enough enough? Why does it take, according to Everytown Research, on average 96 gun related deaths per day for the nation to realize that just one is one too many? Why does it take the heartbreak and trauma of mass shootings for the public to pay attention to the cries of those traumatized by gun violence? These are the questions plaguing American citizens nationwide, particularly those whose lives have been been forever changed by the trauma of violence or the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence.
America’s young adults have stepped up as passionate, informed and powerful agents of change sending a message loud and clear: Enough. Change must follow- voters must read up and vote for representatives serious about gun control reform. A unified effort must be exerted, creating a safer America for students, teachers, and all citizens alike – so that the cries of this generation do not echo in vain, and so that not one more life is taken.