It could’ve been me. Or you.
I wonder what picture my parents would have sent to the news outlets if I had died instead of Alyssa. Or Scott. Or Martin. Or Nicholas. Or Aaron. Or Jaime. Or Chris. Or Luke. Or Cara. Or Gina. Or Joaquin. Or Alaina. Or Meadow. Or Helena. Or Alex. Or Carmen. Or Peter.
No student or school staff member should have to worry that they could go to school in the morning and never return home.
What happened in Parkland is a tragedy, but not a surprise. Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and countless others have numbed our pain, shock, and horror.
But Parkland feels different.
This time, the students have raised their voices. This time, thousands upon thousands of teenagers have said enough is enough, walking out of their classrooms on March 14 to honor the 17 victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
At my high school, Brentwood School in Los Angeles, over 400 middle and high school students marched onto Sunset Boulevard to promote school safety. Students, many of whom wore orange clothing, were alternately sober, carrying posters with pictures commemorating each of the Parkland victims, and energized, carrying homemade signs that exercised their right to protest. Some chanted “Enough is Enough!”
I was moved and encouraged by the swell of support we received from passersby. Countless cars and trucks honked their horns to indicate their approval.
Our voices are being heard and will continue to be heard. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which raises the minimum age for purchasing a gun to 21, mandates a three day waiting period and prohibits bump stocks in Florida, is only the beginning.
This should not be a partisan issue; this is a people issue. No person should ever have to worry about being shot in the classroom.
Enough is enough.
Politicians, you have no more excuses. People of all ages across the country have demanded change.
I believe in personal freedoms and liberties, but I have yet to find words in the constitution that protect the right to own assault weapons. Or a cannon. Or a bomb. There is a line, and reasonable people can draw it far before AR-15’s.
Raise the age limit nationally. No 18-year-old should be able to purchase a gun. If teenagers’ brains can’t be trusted to consume alcohol, they can’t be trusted to own a deadly weapon.
No person needs bump stocks, no matter their age. No person needs a semi-automatic weapon. Ever. Not for hunting, not for target practice, not for self-defense.
We need common sense background checks. Any person who wants a gun can wait three days to obtain it. Owning a gun may be your right, but owning it immediately is not.
We need to improve the way we record convictions and arrests across state lines and among different organizations to prevent people like Dylann Roof and Devin Kelley from procuring guns. Roof had been arrested on drug charges but paperwork had been mishandled. Kelley was a convicted domestic assaulter that the Air Force had failed to report to the FBI. Roof killed nine people. Kelley killed 26. Neither of them should ever have been able to purchase a gun.
Politicians, watch out. Accepting the NRA’s money bloodies your hands. We will be 18 soon. We will be watching. And we will be voting.
These ideas are just a start. The bottom line is that we can do better. Scratch that. We must do better. So that next time it’s not me. Or you.