Too Common

I’m uncomfortable with the regularity that we face shootings. We talk about another school shooting every week. Yesterday was the 18th school shooting since the start of 2018. 17 people were murdered yesterday by an individual wielding an AR-15.

The AR-15 is an assault rifle. It is the semi-automatic version of the U.S. Military’s M16. Depending on the clip size, it can shoot ~30-45 bullets per clip – as fast as you can pull the trigger, you can shoot. It is easier to shoot accurately and rapidly due to it’s design minimizing recoil. It is the most-commonly used gun in US mass shootings.  In the state of Florida, you have to be 21 to purchase a handgun, but only 18 to purchase an assault rifle.

I have friends and family with guns. I was taught how to shoot a gun by my uncle Freddie and cousins in Georgia when I was pretty young. I am not against hunting. I am not against shooting for sport. I believe you should be able to defend yourself from harm or intruders. But, I believe this only with the stipulation that you should be comprehensively investigated – thorough background checks as well as psychological and behavioral testing. I, however, do not believe that everyone has a right to a gun because some people are not of the right mind to own a gun. I do not believe that anyone outside of the military needs to own an AR-15.

One of the main issues we have is the issue is the unethical garbage we have running this country. To the senators and congressmen like Marco Rubio, who receive hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars from the NRA, I say: go fuck yourselves. You sit back and do nothing as children and adults die. You sit back and tweet from the safety of your own home that you pray for them. Meanwhile, so many live with PTSD from experiencing a tragedy like their school being shot up. You sit by and don’t fight against the issues because you’re so damn worried about money. And the money doesn’t come from the victims. The money comes from the NRA.

Owning a gun should not be a right, it should be a privilege. You know what should be a right, but is sickeningly a privilege? Healthcare. The victims of each shooting must face the numerous medical bills that accrue – even with the health insurance they may be covered by. Many insurances do not cover psychiatric care or counseling.

There were 17 deaths, but there were many more than 17 victims. Those students and staff, and their families will fight through each day for the rest of their lives. They’ll have flashbacks. They’ll have breakdowns. They’ll have trouble gaining the confidence to leave the house. They’ll have trouble returning to school for fear of reliving the moments that terrorize them when they close their eyes.

The shooter was a 19-year-old who was expelled and banned from the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas for disciplinary actions, including threats previously made in the past to harm a teacher and students. Guns are not the only issue. Where is the assistance for those with mental illnesses? Where is the awareness that not only is the issue that those with certain mental illnesses are a poor candidate to own or have access to a gun, but also the stigma around mental illness and the lack of assistance those with mental illness receive? I am not claiming that the shooter had a mental illness; although, there has so be some sort of psychopathy involved with shooting at other human beings. As someone who lives with (thank goodness, well-managed) anxiety and depression, I can say that I am not concerned about everyone with a psychiatric diagnosis owning a gun; however, there are quite a few diagnoses in which we should protect those people and the world around them by not allowing them to purchase a gun.

We need to do better. We need to work harder to create change. The whole system is dysfunctional. We are supposed to be a country run by a representation of its people, but we aren’t and it doesn’t seem like we’re even close to an accurate representation of our nation and it’s people. I cannot imagine the devastation of every student, staff, and family member in that school. We have to work harder to improve things for the future.

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