by Azul Mora
The sound of gunshots has become such an American thing, no matter how many lives have ended with that sound, and no matter how much suffering comes with that sound. After all, that sound has become a synonym of what it means to be American; the type of sound that American students are terrified of hearing in their school hallway, always hiding behind desks, and hoping that they are not next. The sound that citizens are expected to witness at some point in their lives. Yes, expected to. Why else would there be so many drills at schools and work spaces? America always seeks to prepare for the worst and also the inevitable. Unfortunately, Americans have not fought enough to prevent the next gun-related death and our generation is more than tired and ready to fight for our lives. We are not allowing adults to keep on destroying our future.
My generation is not allowing adults to destroy our future? Yes, adults. Every single drop of blood that has been shed to gun violence is a reflection of the older generations and their failure to act. Americans have seen too many shootings, the news of another shooting are too common, so common that Americans have learned to speak of it for a couple of weeks and move on like those lives never mattered- lives that vanished too soon. Generation Z grew up in the shadow of the Columbine shooting. If you belong to an older generation and are reading this, do you remember April 20th, 1999? Do you remember how terrified you felt after learning about Columbine? Did you feel the world stop? These questions reflect what our generation is constantly fighting. Groups of people that are part of Generation Z have learned to think of mass shootings as the inevitable because we live in America, but that is not true- gun violence is always preventable.
The older generations should have acted after Columbine. Columbine should have been the last shooting, Columbine should be history. Unfortunately, Columbine repeats and repeats- the only difference are the names of the perpetrators of this violence and the names of the victims, because the cycle continues. To only speak of school shootings, nevertheless, is not completely speaking of America’s gun violence epidemic- school shootings are not the only form of gun violence. It is estimated that one hundred Americans lose their lives to gun violence every day. Most of these deaths are caused by accidental shootings in domestic settings. Older generations always seek to blame the perpetrator for the gun-related death. Notice how I wrote gun-related death. A lot of Americans are willing to risk the lives of their loved ones and even themselves to easily obtain guns. As of the year 2020, there are 350-400 million guns owned by citizens- that is more than the US population itself. My generation understands that every American, as soon as the citizen turns eighteen, is entitled to their second amendment right. And my generation is not here to disrupt and/or eliminate that right- we are here to save lives.
Right now, the world is facing the start of a new reality. The coronavirus has claimed over 100,000 deaths in the US- a loss that has forever impacted thousands of families. As a teenager that has spent long hours watching Netflix shows, I feel like my life is a movie- our reality has changed, our world has changed. Before 2020, we were accustomed to hugging, kissing, and every other type of physical contact. Now, we are advised to follow social distancing rules and to wear face masks as if we were part of some apocalyptic Netflix movie. And as states re-open, we learn that our gun violence epidemic never sleeps.
Just in March of 2020, two million guns were bought because of the coronavirus outbreak and fear. Almost immediately, accidental and also intentional shootings in domestic settings were reported by the media and campaigns like Guns Down America recognized that individuals that live in abusive domestic settings are more likely to become victims of gun violence. As Americans adapt to this new post-quarantine reality and as businesses open again, we once again find the words ‘mass shooting’ in the news’ headlines. So what do we do to save lives and prevent the next act of gun violence?
We organize, we speak, and we fight for what we believe in. We educate our generation on gun violence, the struggle, and our fight- we teach Americans how to prevent and eliminate our gun violence epidemic. We act and we show the world that gun violence is preventable, that we will not allow another person to lose their life to senseless gun violence. This epidemic has become a public health crisis and our generation will keep on fighting until there are no more Columbines, Sandy Hooks, Parklands, etc. The list is too long but we will fight until the epidemic that never sleeps becomes history.