It should never take first-hand knowledge to care about something. You shouldn’t need to have a gay sibling to have an opinion about sexual equality, you shouldn’t need to have a daughter to empathize with women, and you shouldn’t need to see gun violence first-hand to give a shit about it.
Empathy is an essential part of humanity, and what sustains us and revitalizes us and holds our ever-thinning thread together.
On May 7, 2019, I received a news alert that a Denver STEM school had a shooting. Two of my childhood friends—one of which was one of my bridesmaids—works at that school.
Needless to say, I really gave a shit.
This is the first shooting in recent memory that seemed real. Even though I’ve always been a progressive person that firmly believes in common sense gun control and wants to prioritize the safety of American citizens, I’ve always observed these horrific events at a comfortable distance. Like most people I know, I’ve had the privilege to get slowly desensitized with each passing tragedy. I still feel sad, but don’t dare let that emotion linger. I’m horrified, but the shock value lessens with every repeat news alert.
Not this time.
My friends are okay. They’re lucky, their families are lucky, I’m lucky. But between the eight children in the hospital recovering from injuries and the one student that has died so far, they are less lucky. So are their mothers, their fathers, their siblings. Their friends, who always thought they’d grow older together, be in each other’s weddings, or at the very least, make it to their upcoming algebra test.
That common phrase that whirls around in times like these is actually right about something: guns don’t kill people, people kill people. So let’s make sure that people don’t get their hands on those killing guns. I do understand some people get PA-10 rifles among various other guns to protect themselves from the ones who are causing chaos in the world, but if this is the case, very soon the word “gun-control” would not seem to apply to anyone as fear would be the one controlling our actions.
I have a platform, so I’ll use it. This is not a debate, but a call to action in the wake of a public health crisis. I have shot guns, enjoyed them recreationally, and know many people—several of which I love and care about—who own their fair share. However, I am also able to recognize the need for change and legislation that makes it harder for the wrong people to get their hands on firearms.
Bottom line, it’s time. Care without coming close. Care without immediate association. Care about our children, our teachers, our teenagers—men and women and the elderly and veterans and immigrants and minorities, whether they are on a campus, at church, shopping, or out at the movies. Care about humanity. Care enough to act.
For more information about the mentioned Colorado shooting, read here.
For statistics on gun violence, read here.
To find out how you can participate in the movement for common sense gun control, check out the resources listed in this article.