Dear politicians and lawmakers

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Dear politicians and lawmakers

Sally Park, Staff Writer

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Dear politicians and lawmakers,

Every day, the casualties of gun violence increase and more than a million children all over the US live in fear of a potential school shooter. We have begun to possess some type of immunity over the numerous headlines we read online concerning injured victims. It has now become a common instance to read about innocent people dying from such weapons. On average, 318 people in America are shot everyday whether that’s because of police interventions, unintentional shootings, assaults, etc. From this sum, an estimated amount of 30% ends up dying.

With these actions considered, imagine my initial reaction when I heard a gunshot, outside the White House on a beautiful Sunday morning. Bystanders began to run, and one particular woman yelled, “Not again!”. As a policewoman began to yell at everyone to take cover, two more gunshots were fired. A short man fell to the ground. I, along with other bystanders, took cover beneath this marble piece of architecture connecting to the White House. My mind instantaneously thought of the headlines I have seen only the night before of a young adult on a killing spree, with simply the excuse that he was mentally ill.

I spotted a young girl, probably a second grader, hunched over. Her parents were embracing her and whispering words of encouragement to her. She wasn’t crying, but her face was blank, expressing pure shock and terror. I turned to the other direction to see a young woman with a disability who grabbed  her service dog and cried as her father embraced her. Others, if not crouched down in fear, were videotaping the entire incident or texting their friends or family. Two policewomen stood behind us, holding a rifle in their hands. Soon enough, we were told to quickly evacuate to a visitor’s center, where there were bulletproof windows.

This experience has since opened a new perspective for me on gun violence. I have always thought about how absolutely unacceptable it should be for innocent children to be brutally murdered. But I have never really considered the trauma their classmates must have felt after witnessing such act. Gun violence does not only affect the person who was shot, but it also has a bigger impact on the community. The victim’s family and friends are affected, along with the witnesses who now have firsthand experience on what’s it like to be afraid for their lives. I could not even imagine how much terror they would have felt after seeing people they once loved, or even a distant classmate die before their eyes. More than 150,000 students in America have experienced a school shooting. More than 150,000 have experienced what it is like to feel scared for their own lives. Is this really the country we want to be?

 After experiencing such incident, I could honestly say that it was the scariest moment of my life. Even afterwards, I couldn’t help but replay the scenario over and over in my head. I later on found out, that the shooter was indeed someone with a mental illness. But he had instead committed suicide in front of the White House, with no intent to kill. I was first relieved that no innocent bystanders were killed, but immediately felt a surge of guilt. A young adult, at just the age of 26, had died. Despite his mental illness, he was still someone with the potential to accomplish amazing things in life. He had beloved friends and family who would grieve for him for the rest of their life. His mere existence was irreplaceable, and who was I to be relieved at a death of stranger?

A couple nights after, I had a dream about that man. He was sitting on the steps of the White House, a couple feet away from the white marble piece of architecture I once crouched beneath, and I immediately recognized him. He was crying uncontrollably as I kneeled down beside him. I  started to comfort him with words such as, “everything will be okay”. A couple minutes after, the crying abruptly ceased and he disappeared. I woke up with the feeling of guilt and sadness numbed in my chest. How much pain would he have felt in order to kill himself, in front of all these people? And if by chance, he had the mental help he needed, wouldn’t he still be alive to this day? The handgun he had possessed did such an unthinkable and irreversible thing.

The mere statistics of all the deaths caused by gun violence is meaningless to us. The numbers themselves has no value. But instead, it’s the amount of grief and pain that is caused by these weapons. From witnesses who face PTSD, to the affected families and friends, gun violence has stirred a commotion within our country. What if we had more gun control, so that those who have such mental illnesses would not have access to such weapons? What if we had better mental health care, so that those who need mental help will get medical assistance?

This is a problem that’s bigger than we can even imagine, so I can only ask that you will not let these deaths go in vain. The profit made by these rifles is invaluable considering the lives that have been destroyed over such weapon. Why do we, the children of America, have to go through the fear of losing our life just by receiving our own education? Why do so many people have to be in pain or grief because of these weapons? There are no sensible answers to these questions. So in the position of one of the many children of America, I beg of you to please make a change.


              A concerned student


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