America: Where We Value Guns Over Children

Not even two weeks after the massacre in Buffalo, NY and among a weekend where other mass shootings occurred, there was a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. 19 children and 2 teachers were murdered. As the first of these victims will begin to be buried this week, America finds itself at a familiar crossroads. What are we going to do about gun violence? If you listen to Republicans they will tell you that broken homes are the root cause. That we need more guns, more police officers, and we should arm our teachers as well. There is no other developed nation that has this many mass shootings. As a country, America has more guns than people; 120 guns for every 100 people. Gun deaths are now the leading cause of death for children and young people.

            The first time I had ever heard about a school shooting or mass shooting was in 1999 when two teenagers murdered 12 students and 1 teacher at Columbine high school in Colorado. I don’t remember how I felt, but I do remember how I felt when the shooting happened at Virginia Tech when 32 people were killed by a student in 2007. My grandmother had passed away about a week before and I was set to graduate high school in June. I remember being scared at the idea of going to college and being on my own after hearing about what had happened. I could list dozens of mass shootings that I remember within the past 20 years and each time I am heartbroken over this country’s callous regard to human life.

            Mass shootings and crime are not isolated to the United States, but the frequency and the lack of action is. We hide behind the second amendment and argue that it is our right to bear arms, but do I also not have the right to be safe in school, in church, grocery shopping, at the park, at the mall, or anywhere? How can your right to own a weapon be more important than my right to live? Not many people fully understand what the Second Amendment actually protects. It states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” For context, this amendment came to be because Southern Slave owners were afraid that the government would not protect their rights to own slaves and could possibly arm free slaves if the government called up an army. They were afraid that these former slaves would take their revenge on their former owners.  So, it was written into the Constitution that if necessary states could protect themselves from the government. The Constitution nor the Second Amendment has never been a blanketed protection for any and everyone to bear arms.  

            While I cannot say that I would ever own a gun, I do understand the desire to own and have a tool that can be used to protect yourself, your family, and your property. This does not mean that regular citizens should be using the weapons and tools that are used in warfare. The NRA has for years been arguing that people don’t kill people, guns kill people. In truth, people with guns kill people. And the NRA donates, and lobbies to make sure that those in power continue to support them even if it means that we continue to bury our children.

As the fallout continues from this heinous attack, many people have blamed the police for their response. And while they should be held responsible and investigated so that we have a better understanding of what wrong; the blame and the responsibility is on the shoulders of our politicians who put greed and power before doing what is right. Life is hard and people die. Death is as much a part of life as living is. But these deaths, which can be prevented should never be accepted or tolerated.  Again, I offer my deepest condolences and prayers to the families who will be burying their loved ones in the coming weeks. I am so sorry for the ways in which we’ve failed our children. We can ask for their forgiveness, but I’m not sure we deserve it.

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