On Sunday, Aug. 26, a disgruntled young man shot 11 people and killed two because he’d lost a video game. Every politician, Republican and Democratic, who allows for deadly firearms to be an easily purchasable commodity is an accomplice to those murders.
As a young citizen of the United States of America, I am no longer giving the benefit of the doubt to politicians and elected representatives who are responsible for the deaths of so many young people in this country, and who have refused to take action to stop meaningless and unbearable murders. As a nation we must face the reality that the decisions to approve the laws surrounding the sale of firearms in the U.S. and uphold the second amendment and interpret it broadly are the decisions that have led to the unrelenting murder of children as young as one and folks as old as 90.
In Parkland, Fla., we saw that all it took was a boy who was dissatisfied with his social and love life to murder 14 teenagers. Teenagers who were stripped of their chance to make an impact in the world, love spouses and raise children. They will never have that chance simply because our laws permit the commercial exchange of killing machines, and we so poorly enforce regulations regarding who can carry them and who they are sold to after-market.
I was always been a fairly anxious kid. Starting in second grade or so, I would either choose or request a seat in the classroom where I was far from the door or window and where I could easily see both. It doesn’t take Oprah Winfrey-like levels of empathy to understand why an 8-year-old shouldn’t be distracted from his classwork because he is worried that at any moment someone is going to bust in with an assault rifle ready to murder him, and it doesn’t take a historian to understand that that is a proven possibility. It’s kind of sad that a little part of me thinks that it is a miracle that I made it from kindergarten to senior year of high school, but it’s even more sad that some kids don’t make it.
Despite all the bloodshed and mourning for young Americans that occurs year after year, from Connecticut to Chicago, a silver lining exists. I am part of the generation of David Hogg, Cameron Kasky and all of the other young people who see the issue of gun violence for what it is. Contrary to what elected officials tell us, the issue is not that there are too few firearms, it’s that there are too many. I am part of the generation that will hold legislators accountable for putting politics over morals. I am part of the generation that will cease the commercial production of firearms and keep them in the hands of service members.
In their attempts to be “tough on crime” or “tough on drugs” (which led to institutionalized control of minorities, but that argument is for another time), American leaders have missed the mark in reducing gun violence. The whole time what we needed is to be tough on guns. We needed to be judicious in interpreting the Constitution in the context of modern times and recognize that, unlike some parts of the Bill of Rights, the language of the Second Amendment is outdated and obsolete. Although efforts were made by some Democratic politicians, particularly Bill Clinton with the Assault Weapons Ban (who paid for it politically in the 1994 midterm elections), the NRA, with the Republican Party in its pocket, has thwarted any substantial effort to make progress. It’s this obstruction that has led to every school shooting from Columbine to Virginia Tech to Sandy Hook, and led to the shooting in Jacksonville last Sunday.
I am a 21-year-old college junior, which means this fall I’m gambling with my life by returning to campus, to one of America’s fields for gun violence. I pray that I make it another two years without meeting the same fate of so many American students. And if I do, my generation is making a change.
Tobin Greenwald, Park City, is a 21-year old political science major and lacrosse captain at Beloit College, Beloit, Wis.