When I texted my mother from the bus to Washington, D.C., to tell her that I was going to the March for Our Lives to join hundreds of thousands of other people to march in support of increased gun control, she called me two seconds later to tell me that guns were not the problem, and that attacking the holiest of all our nation’s laws, the Second Amendment, was not the answer.
And thus the open invitation to endlessly debate me on the issue of gun control was sent out to everyone in my family, right down to my 10-year-old brother who told me I needed to stop protesting before I got myself killed.
The truth is, I’m not really sure why people seem to think that the problem of school shootings, or even gun violence in general, has nothing to do with guns. An extensive study done by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center confirms in every way what should be obvious: more guns equal more gun deaths. The same study found that states with more restrictions on firearms had fewer homicides and suicides caused by guns, even while controlling the study for a host of other factors, such as poverty, unemployment, race, and deaths unrelated to firearms.
Listen. I totally get why people love guns. I really do. I grew up learning how to use rifles and pistols from my grandfather, and the hunting season has always been a time of celebration. It’s part of the reason why I am not advocating the complete banning of guns, or the repeal of the Second Amendment.
What I am advocating for are common sense laws, protections that can decrease the deaths and injuries caused by firearms.
These are measures like requiring universal background checks, so domestic abusers and people who have previously committed crimes cannot easily get ahold of a gun, and waiting periods to get a gun, to prevent brief impulses that result in homicide or suicide.
Measures like raising the minimum age to buy a gun, as 18 to 20-year-olds commit gun homicides at a rate nearly four times higher than adults 21 and older, according to research done by Everytown for Gun Safety.
Measures like reducing magazine capacity, so that shooters will be forced to reload more often, which could buy time for victims to escape and for law enforcement to get to the scene.
Measures like banning bump stocks, which speed up the shooting rate of a gun so it acts more like an automatic weapon.
Measures like removing the current ban on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from doing research on gun control, which vastly limits the data on the effectiveness of gun control laws and which measures help decrease gun violence the most. And before you say gun violence is not a disease, neither are car crashes, another public safety matter studied by the CDC.
My mother argued that “criminals and crazies will always be able to get a gun if they really want one.” But then why do we bother banning or preventing access to other things that are dangerous, like the ingredients needed to make bombs? According to the “Los Angeles Times,” after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, it became more difficult for people to obtain the ingredients needed to make bomb, and terrorist attacks using those weapons decreased, the new weapon of choice being the far less regulated method of guns.
Sure, there’s always going to be exceptions. But if we make it so that it’s even a little more difficult to gain access to a gun, it could help. At the very least, we have to try.
Because I’m tired of hearing about the next set of children who are dead. I’m tired of hearing about 9-year-olds who volunteer to stand in front of their classmates in a school shooting because they want to protect their friends. I have never known a world where school shootings were not commonplace events. As long as I can remember, I have had drills on what to do in case there is a shooter — lights off, lock the doors, hide underneath desks and out of sight, and if that’s not enough, and if the shooter still gets in and begins to kill your friends and classmates, play dead, hold your breath, and hope that the blood and bodies around you are enough to convince them that the job here is done, hope that he moves onto the next room, the next hallway. It shouldn’t be this way, and it doesn’t have to be.
Marches are only the beginning. Now it’s time to call our representatives and demand change. And if they refuse, we go to the polls. And we vote them out.