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Sticking to Our Guns

Sticking to Our Guns

I am sitting in school right now, and I am scared.

I am 16 years old, and I am not safe. Just a few weeks ago, 14 kids, a teacher, a coach, and an athletic director lost their lives on what started out as a normal school day. The teenage survivors of the Florida shooting are taking action, while our politicians do nothing. We can no longer trust the American government with a task as simple as protecting kids in school.

We call BS.

I am not scared for my personal safety; I am scared of how our nation has reacted to this incident, and how it will continue to happen as a result of inaction. I sit in class and my teachers preach that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Hearing that doesn’t shock me. After all, I live in the South, and most of my teachers are openly conservative. But I would expect some sort of sympathy, some indication that they care about the lives of their students. I am met with only apathy.

We’re not even two months into 2018, and there have been 18 school shootings this year. We can’t afford to put this problem off even another day. People are dying. Gun violence in America isn’t new, but it’s increasing exponentially. The frequency of mass shootings has tripled since 2011. So why hasn’t Congress passed gun control legislation since 1994? Something has to be done.

The urgent need for increased gun control greatly outweighs any benefit of protecting the Second Amendment. 68% of all U.S. homicides are committed with guns, so (believe it or not) guns do kill people. The American people’s neglect to recognize this urgency and act upon it shows our extreme fear of change. AR-15s didn’t exist when our founding fathers passed the Second Amendment in 1791. However, American nationalists preach the Constitution religiously, especially the Second Amendment. Even mass shootings—children dying!—cannot bring these “pro-lifers” to recognize its flaws.

Once again, we call BS.

When writing the Constitution, the founding fathers had to create a balance of liberty and security that would effectively govern our nation. Needless to say, guns have changed a lot since the 1700s. Today, modern technology allows mass killings to be done within seconds with legally obtained semi-automatic weapons. The Constitution is not immortal. The founding fathers are not God figures. The Bill of Rights is not the Ten Commandments. Things can and should change.

There’s a reason the federal government has the power to amend the Constitution, just like there’s a reason the Supreme Court can reinterpret that same much-cited document. The founding fathers recognized that no single piece of paper should govern America forever. We can’t let laws determine our society; the issues in our society must determine the laws.

America’s attachment to the Second Amendment goes beyond nationalism—it shows our fear of the unknown. We fear rewriting outdated laws more than we fear mass shootings, because we can’t imagine experiencing them. So, we hold onto our guns and hope for the best.

By Ellen Daly, 16

Image via @marchforourlives. If you haven't already, RSVP and get more info about the March 24th protest for gun reform here. 

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