One month ago, 17 students and faculty lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. One month ago, students less than 5 years younger than me were slaughtered in their high school. I thought about my sister, who is in high school, when I heard the news. I thought about my niece in kindergarten when I heard the news. I thought about my safety at University of North Georgia, especially since the hasty passage of a campus carry law last year.
I sat in class scoping out my exits that Thursday, wondering how quickly I could run to the restroom and hide, wondering how I would and if I could react to that situation.
Over the past month, I’ve heard and read ugly, hateful things about the activist survivors: “skinhead lesbian,” “astroturfers,” “crisis actors,” and again, I wondered how quickly we would erase the impact that senseless death had on students had it happened in Hall County. These students seem to understand something that gun advocates and the NRA (and its paid politicians) choose not to: our lives, and the lives of our children, are more important than the prospects of taking your toy to the range.
Let’s be perfectly clear here: No one is getting rid of the Second Amendment. No one wants to keep you from hunting and protecting yourself and your home (legally). Furthermore, no one wants to have to pick up their child’s body at the school they sent them to that morning.
We can talk together about solutions, and compromise. What we cannot do is allow dangerous people to acquire semi-automatic weapons. We cannot allow the next generation of this country to be slaughtered simply because we want rifles with no practical use. Let’s be sensible, and empathetic.
Finally, I want to thank every student that walked out this Wednesday. You are so brave, and important to this country. You will be the ones that bring change, not politicians or the NRA. Young voices are so powerful, especially when they are as smart and informed as the students I saw today. I want to thank all the students that chose to leave their classrooms, regardless of the punishment, in order to protect my sister, and my niece, and me.
Thank you for being the change that this country desperately needs. I don’t know about the critics, but I never want to lose someone I love to a gunshot. I want my future children, and the children I love now, to go to school in a safe environment where they don’t have to wonder when gunshots will fly through the door.