It’s Time to Wake Up, America

This weekend, 50 innocent people were killed and 53 more injured in the latest mass shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. In the wake of what is now the deadliest mass shooting in United States history, it is time we come together as a nation to end the pattern of gun violence that has become so prevalent in our country.

I grew up in the Post-9/11 America, where tragedies like the most recent shooting in Orlando have become an almost regular occurrence. While 9/11 was an act of terror against the United States committed by outsiders, the mass shootings that have become the norm in our country are being committed by our own citizens, who we have given access to the guns they use to kill.

After 9/11, we united as one nation, and our government took action against those who set out to hurt us. Right or wrong, a war was waged abroad while extra security measures were put into place at home in order to ensure our country’s safety against future violent attacks. But now, when it’s our own citizens causing the terror, whether it be in a school, a movie theater, a church, or a nightclub, it seems we are too weak to take a stand against them and implement the necessary changes to stop this violence once and for all.

I remember where I was when I heard about the Virginia Tech Massacre. It was 2007; I was just 11 years old at the time, but I remember the day vividly, because the news seemed to shake the whole nation.

Now ask yourselves this: can you remember exactly where you were when the Sandy Hook school shooting occurred? How about the Colorado theater shooting? San Bernardino? At least for me, the answer is no.

That’s because, in the past few years, mass shootings have become so common that they seem to no longer have the same effect on people that I remember so vividly from the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting.

Instead, these tragedies become just another story on the nightly news, a post on Facebook, or a trending topic on Twitter. I am in no way trying to diminish the sadness these shootings cause or the damage they do to the victims, their families, and their community. Rather, my point is to say that we can no longer allow the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to win by not taking a stand against them. By refusing to make changes to our laws restricting gun ownership, we have allowed these reoccurring acts of terror to desensitize us to violence. The latest shooting becomes just another story on the news cycle and a topic of conversation around the dinner table until a few weeks later, when the next tragedy happens, and we forget about the last.

It’s time to stop forgetting. It’s time to take the widespread violence that exists in the United States seriously, and it’s time to do something about it.

Here are some cold, hard facts. The frequency of mass shootings has tripled since 2011. Between the years 2011 and 2014, a mass shooting has occurred every 64 days. Nonetheless, in an analysis of all mass shootings between 1982-2012, it was found that more than 75% of the guns used by the perpetrators were obtained legally.

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Finally, in the same study, a majority of the perpetrators were found to have a mental illnesses, and many displayed symptoms long before the shooting occurred.

So, what do these facts tell us? They tell us that we can’t afford to let gun control be a partisan issue any longer. Rather, we as a nation need to put aside our political differences and unite in preventing future shootings from taking more innocent lives. While the Second Amendment secures the right to bear arms, the time has come to place restrictions on this overarching right. Just as forms of free speech such as obscenity and child pornography are not protected by the First Amendment, gun owners must be more carefully screened in their pursuit of the right to bear arms in order to protect the greater good.

We as a nation have more mass shootings and gun related homicides than any other developed nation in the world, and that needs to stop. It’s time to wake up, America. The time for gun control is now.

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