By Gigi Aiken '19
On Presidents’s Day, I was one of 17 students laying in front of the White House in honor of the seventeen victims of the Parkland shooting. Two of my friends from Potomac put together the event under their newly formed organization Teens for Gun Reform, and asked me to help out with the protest and handling the media. Living in our nation’s capital, we have an unique opportunity to be able to go directly to our leader’s offices and voice our opinions.
The “lie in” is a silent protest that lasted for three minutes to represent how long it takes someone in America to buy a semi-automatic gun, because they are placed under the hunting category. Since these guns have long barrels, they are easier to purchase because there is no waiting period to by them, like there is for a handgun. These are military grade weapons and are not meant to be in the hands of civilians. I am tired of seeing mass shootings on the news, and I am sure there are millions of Americans who are as well. As of February 20th, there have been 18 mass shootings in the United States in 2018. That is roughly 3 per week.
Most people assume that Republicans like me love guns and fully support the NRA. Although I do support the Second Amendment and enjoy shooting guns, I think there needs to be limitations put in place. I don't have an issue with hunting rifles and handguns, but semi-automatic guns are not weapons that a civilian should have in order to protect their family. In the city, people view guns as a bad thing, because they often lead to bad situations. In the country and rural America, guns are just another thing to have. Some of my closest friends are on hunting teams at their schools, but squash is not offered, because it is not apart of their culture. In America, I do not think we will ever fully repeal the Second Amendment, but I do think there needs to be limitations and regulations put in place to make sure America is as safe as it can be.
Teens for Gun Reform is demanding that both Republicans and Democrats come together and find a solution to save American lives. We cannot make this a partisan issue, because if it turns into the blame game, Congress will accomplish nothing. Both parties are at fault. Back in 2007 and 2008, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not be bringing gun legislation to the House floor, because she knew if an anti gun law was voted on, there would be countless members who would lose their seat because so many voters solely vote on supporting guns. Right now, the Republicans are doing the same thing. They all know the power that the NRA has over them, and how with one bad move, the NRA could destroy their political career. This time, our leaders need to break party lines and stand up to the NRA. America will always have guns, but our leaders need to recognize that something needs to change in order to protect American children.
In order for Stoneman Douglas to be the last victim of mass gun violence, our generation needs to make sure there is change. We need to make sure the news does not fade this issue out. Although social media has played an incredible role in bringing teens across the country together, we cannot rely solely on it to enact change. As a generation, we need to continue to make sure our voices are heard. Sharing an article on your Facebook wall or using a hashtag on Instagram is not enough. There needs to be physical action: call or send a letter to your house and senate representatives. Holding rallies, marches, walk outs, lie ins, or any type of protest that will attract media attention is crucial because it will keep this conversation going. It is very easy for the media outlets to move on to the next story, since something new happens every day. It is our job to continue to make sure our voices are heard, because we do not want to be known as the mass shooting generation.