There comes a point in society in which we must decide our priorities- the right to live free from the fear of yet another shooting or the right of the shooter to purchase a gun. The 2nd Amendment is intertwined with American culture to the point that for many, it symbolizes our country’s founding ideals of freedom and independence. Guns are as American as fireworks on the 4th of July and hotdogs at baseball games. Yet, the United States is consistently faced with school shootings, mass murders, and homicides caused by the availability of guns. Where do we draw the line? No matter your political affiliation, age, race, social status, gender, etc., the mass availability of guns is a threat to everyone. 

We didn’t change the law when small children were slaughtered in their classrooms in Newtown. We didn’t change the law when churchgoers in Charleston were massacred by a racist maniac. We didn’t change the law after the carnage of the Pulse shooting. We didn’t change the law after, just this week, writers at the Capital Gazette were murdered while practicing the 1st Amendment. The heroic efforts of victims of the Parkland shooting and the March for our Lives felt as if it signified a tidal shift in societal values- yet months later and nothing has really changed. People still die almost everyday in Memphis because of gun violence and Americans remain constantly in fear of the next news headline. 

Do we really want to be a country where children are scared to go to school, concert-goers must scope out where to hide or flee, and writers can’t safely go to work? The United States is beautiful because of the intersection of beliefs and cultures and countless opportunities to create a better life for oneself. The wonderful freedoms available to us, such as my freedom to speak my mind on this public forum, are why I am proud to be an American. I love my country, but I am not proud of how we have responded to the violence permeating our society. Something must be done- whether that be common sense gun regulation or better background checks. How many more innocent American citizens have to die until we make that change? When do we finally say enough is enough- human lives are the most valuable and precious. 

Keep loving, shining, spreading joy, and standing up for what you believe in,

Love always, 

S 

This piece is dedicated to Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Robert Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman and John McNamara, the victims killed in the Capital Gazette shooting.