The Need for Conversation: In The Aftermath of Mass Shootings

On Feb. 14, an armed teenager entered the halls of the Parkland, Florida high school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and opened fire– killing 17 teachers and students. This shooting not only sparked the advocacy of school safety, but it also fueled a gun control debate with the use of social media. Survivors of the shooting, and parents of the slain, have been involved in public outcries pleading with government officials, including senator Marco Rubio and President Donald Trump to protect children in schools at all costs. This cost, to the victims, includes severing ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA).

I want to be clear, one can be pro-gun and pro-gun reform at the same time. Even though I would never want to own a gun for personal reasons, I do believe that people should be able to carry if they want to for protection or for employment. That being said, there needs to be a conversation between the American people and its government so that gun related tragedies are at a bare minimum. In our society today, many government officials are tied up with the NRA in a sense that they support candidates with campaigning, and continue their support through their time in office. This, in turn, typically sways their opinion to adhere to the NRA’s ideals.

However, after the attack on the Florida high school, many politicians have went against the NRA’s beliefs to better ensure safety in schools. Trump has been seen backing the idea of arming some teachers in schools and having more armed guards in all schools. In addition to this, Trump has backed the banning of purchasing bump stocks (a tool that allows semi- automatic weapons to simulate the shooting range of a fully automatic weapon). With Trump, Florida senator, Rubio, has publically been seen to back the raising of purchasing assault rifles from age 18 to 21 and strengthening background checks.

Even with the conversations that have been happening between Republicans, the victims of the Parkland shooting and anti- NRA politicians have been in favor of a complete rifle ban. Emma Gonzalez, senior at Stoneman Douglas, said at a rally, “He would not have harmed that many students with a knife.” She was speaking about the gunman who murdered her school’s students and faculty. She also talked about the issue of mental health. She understands that there is a mental health issue, but that the politicians cannot hide behind that to excuse the issue of gun violence. Many victims are in support of extensive gun control to keep the kids in schools safe.

There has been a plan for a National Walkout March 14, a month after the Parkland massacre. At 10 a.m. for 17 minutes, students across the nation are planning to stand outside in silence to remember the lives lost. In relation to this, there is a national,”March for our Lives” event that has been supported by many celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and Jimmy Kimmel. These events are called to be inclusive and bring awareness to the need for gun reform while also honoring the lives lost. Another gun related walkout is organized for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.

Maybe the Assault Rifle Ban will not limit the number of violent deaths in America, but it can limit the number of mass shootings that have plagued our nation. I think we owe it to the school students, teachers, concert goers, church members, and everyone else who were gunned down where they expected safety. One of these tragedies eliminated is a step in the right direction.

Sources: CNN, Fox, LA Times, New York Magazine

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