Six thousand, nine hundred and forty days ago, students funneled into classrooms for what was ‘just another day' of school. The lesson they learned that day, along with their parents, teachers, and quite frankly the world, is one that no textbook could prepare you for: How to move forward after unthinkable gun violence.
Six thousand, nine hundred and forty days ago, two students at Columbine High School shot and killed 13 of their classmates. This tragedy made its way into history books, forever immortalized as ‘Columbine’ and forced schools nationwide to develop active shooter protocol.
We hugged our children tighter that day, fearful to send them to school the next. We organized then to call for sensible gun legislation; we marched on Washington. We relied on those with the power to protect children from gun violence to do their job - they didn’t.
Today marks the 19th anniversary of Columbine. Two hundred and eight thousand students have been exposed to gun violence while at school since that day. Our government has failed so miserably to address one of the largest epidemics affecting school age children in this century, that they don’t even track it.
We can do better; we must demand better.
Gun violence has not taken a permanent seat in our classrooms - it is present at every intersection of our lives. From our churches, concerts and shopping malls, to the streets of our neighborhoods, communities have been forever changed by inaction on this issue.
The United States owns the Gun Violence epidemic and it is time we own up to the solutions that we have actively been avoiding for decades. We need to:
Implement Stronger and Universal Background Checks 94% of Americans support background checks for all gun purchases. Background checks are the easiest and most effective way to keep guns out of the hands of violent people and prevent gun deaths.
Close Gun Show Loopholes Eliminating this gun show loophole will prevent criminals from buying guns and decrease the distribution of guns into the black market.
Reinstate 1994 Assault Weapon Ban We need to restrict access to weapons of war that can be used to commit mass murder.
Require Domestic Abusers to Surrender Firearms The gun homicide rate for women in the United States is 16 times higher than in the rest of the developed world. enforcement until a judicial determination or mental health assessment is made.
Funding Research into the Causes of Gun Violence The NRA has successfully blocked research into gun violence by the CDC and other federal entities for decades. It has blocked proper reporting of gun violence incidents to keep independent researchers from obtaining consistent and in depth data to prevent gun violence. That practice must end.
Students, families, and communities most often impacted by gun-violence should not have to ask for the government to protect them. This generation should not shoulder the weight of decades worth of inaction when it comes to reducing gun violence - in our schools and in our neighborhoods: we shoulder that burden.
If there is one lesson I hope we all have learned over the course of the last 6,940 days, it is: we must keep a continuous pulse on the issues, even if they don’t directly impact us. We have to continue marching. We have to continue organizing.
And, most importantly, if our elected officials won’t act, we must vote them out.