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It Is Time

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How do you typically spend a day? Many people spend their average day working, going to school, studying, and spending time with their families. Oh, and, if you live in the United States, 91 of us will be killed with guns each day. Seven of those 91 people will be children and teenagers. Young people, who should have their entire lives ahead of them, will be killed, because we, as a society, have decided that guns are more important than our children.

Since January 1st, 2016, 1,783 children under the age of 17 have been injured, and or killed, by guns. These cannot be sad cases where a child is in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Since 2016, there have been 28 shootings at schools or Universities. The one place we should be able to assume our children are safe. Where we send our children to learn, to better themselves, and to better their communities. We should be able to send our children to school, without the constant reminder that we are truly never safe in this country.

Every time there is a mass shooting (and there have been over 26,670 shootings in the United States since the beginning of 2016), we have a moment of silence. Heads are lowered, prayers are said, and moments of silences are a given. But when does this become not enough? Personally, I would argue that more than moment of silence is called for after the Newtown shooting, where 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 were violently slaughtered in their classrooms. It may seem like few people share my view, but that would be incorrect. On recent surveys, it is said that over 90% of Americans support some gun control, including expanding background checks for people who want to purchase assault rifles. So, what is the issue? It seems obvious that if 90% of Americans are in support of something, especially something so important as protecting our lives, it would happen immediately. But that is not the case.

As President Obama said, after the Orlando shooting, where 49 people were killed, and over 50 were injured, “To actively do nothing is a decision.” I personally believe that simply having the opinion that gun control laws need to be passed, but doing nothing to encourage it to actually happen, is the same as not caring. As Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Right now, the majority of American citizens have chosen the side of the National Rifle Association (NRA). They have chosen this side by either supporting the NRA, or by actively doing nothing to stop them. The NRA reported spending $3.3 million on influencing gun laws and gun policies per year, although it is said to be more.

A common saying is that, “if nothing changed after 20 children were gruesomely murdered, then nothing will change.” And literally, nothing did change after the Sandy Hook shooting. A bill that was going to expand background checks and ban assault weapons was vetoed in 2013, only a few months after 20 children were killed by a .223 caliber semiautomatic assault rifle. But that is no longer okay with me. Every time you turn a reasonable conversation on gun control into “liberals taking away your rights”, you are part of the problem. Every time you support the 56 senators who voted against expanding background checks for assault rifles, and closing the gun show loop hole, you are part of the problem.

So, what can you do? To start, become a single issue voter. It doesn’t matter what foreign policy you support, whether you are in favor of a woman’s right to choose, or any other common issues among candidates, if you are dead. The single most important issue in our country right now is gun control. Without gun control, we can no longer be considered a first world, developed country. The United State’s murder rate, with guns, is 25 times more than other developed countries. Second, vote in non presidential years. President Obama has loudly spoken out against the NRA, and in favor of gun control, but that is not enough. For laws to be passed, they must be voted on in Congress, which is controlled by the Republican party, where the majority disapprove of gun control, and actively work to prevent common sense gun laws from being passed.

Ultimately, this is our decision. And it cannot be ignored any longer. So you, as an American citizen, have to make a decision on how important this issue is to you. It doesn’t matter what your racial or ethnic background is. It doesn’t matter where you live, or where you are from. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are. It doesn’t matter who you are. No one is safe in this country until we pass gun control laws.

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