On Friday, children, teachers and administrators arrived to school at Marysville-Pilchuck High School like it was any other day. Now they are forever changed. One victim is dead, three are in very critical condition and another is in serious condition. The shooter is also dead. Our hearts go out to Marysville-Pilchuck community. They have faced something unthinkable. They are forever changed.
These children did not enter a war zone. They do not live in a third world country. They simply went to school that day, like millions of other children, in America, which is supposed to be a civilized nation.
Gun violence is out of control in this country. According to the CDC, we now lose approximately 92 Americans to gun violence every day, the highest number in ten years. There have been 87 incidences involving a gun on school properties in America since the Newtown tragedy in 2012. Does a country where we average more than one shooting on school grounds a week and 92 people die a day at the end of a gun sound civilized to you?
If 92 people a day were dying because of an E coli outbreak, or a faulty product on the market, there would be tremendous public outrage and a call for action. Already, with one American dead from Ebola, vaccines are in the works and steps are being taken to reduce risk and limit casualties. However, in the movement toward a safer nation, we face an uphill battle.
Not only are they devastated, but the victims’ families will soon face taunting and harassment by extremists and conspiracy theorists. Perhaps they already have. Insurrectionists wrap themselves in the flag and threaten violence to anyone who dare put the lives of our nation’s children (including their own) over their right to an arsenal. Concerned citizens who dare voice their support of universal background checks receive death threats. What should be a conversation of common sense is anything but.
Can you imagine what it would be like if a shooting happened at your child’s school? Perhaps you haven’t considered this before. Your school may have avoided a tragedy until now, but what about tomorrow? At what point will you say enough is enough? For some, Columbine was that breaking point. For others, it was Aurora or Tucson. For some, it was a personal experience with gun violence. Newtown was the breaking point for many. What will be your breaking point? What will it take for you to say “Enough?”
A recent article on CNN.com entitled “Gun Violence Isn’t Somebody Else’s Problem” makes the point that we must not wait for others to act: “Somebody’s child was killed Friday because that child went to school. Somebody has to do something about it. In ways full of both risk and responsibility, you are that somebody.”
There are many ways to get involved in the movement toward a safer nation:
While respecting the 2nd Amendment, we can implement common sense laws that will make a big difference. Universal background checks; safe storage requirements; laws that make it more difficult for domestic and child abusers to obtain a weapon, nationwide gun permits and expanded requirements including more stringent testing, like mental health testing and more challenging training and testing for concealed and open carry permits. We should consider magazine limits and assault weapon bans. These ideas will save some lives, maybe even someone you know and love.
But, that’s not all. We need to address other areas as well. In addition to gun safety, we need to take action to prevent bullying, improve our education and mental healthcare systems, provide better support to parents, and reduce poverty. These are all areas we need to address to help reduce violence in our country.
What can you do? Contact your state and federal legislators. Tell them you care about making our country safer. On voting day, support legislators who are making your family’s safety a priority. Vote for those who are passionate about education and improving mental health services. Write a letter to the Editor of your local paper. Attend rallies. Get involved in your community. Stand up to bullies. Report suspected abuse to the proper authorities. Reach out when you know someone is struggling. If you are considering harming yourself and others, reach out to someone who cares and ask for help.
Don’t wait for somebody to take a stand against violence. You are that somebody. It’s time to take a stand.