Demi Lawrence is a sophomore telecommunications journalism major and writes "Demi's Diems" for The Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Demi at email@example.com.
When I read the news this morning that a middle school not 30 minutes from me had fallen victim to an active shooter situation, I am horrified to say that I was not surprised.
At 9:06 a.m., police were called to Noblesville West Middle School on reports of an active shooter in the school. Since then, a male student has been taken into custody and two people — one female student and one male teacher — have been taken to the hospital for injuries.
April 20, 1999 — Columbine — should have been the last straw.
I can’t believe I’m writing something like this again.
Nearly 20 years later, we are still having the same tragedies strike this nation and we are still scratching our heads wondering, “Oh, what can we do?” It seems like we have a control panel full of buttons that are solutions, yet still America just chooses to press the one that says, “Wait this out, our rights are more important.”
The United States of America sticks out like a sore thumb to the rest of the world when it comes to gun violence. After Australia’s Port Arthur Massacre in April 1996 — a gunman possessing semi automatic weapons killed 35 and wounded 23 — the six Australian states collectively enacted gun laws that banned semi-automatic rifles and shotguns in the country.
Nearly one million semi-automatic weapons were sold back to the Australian government and destroyed as a result of these laws. In 22 years, Australia has only seen one mass shooting in the entire country. Homicide and suicide rates plummeted as well.
“But my rights,” some may cry, clenching on to their 200+ year old Bill of Rights like it’s more valuable than the lives of their fellow Americans.
When the Founding Fathers created the Second Amendment, semi-automatic weapons crafted with the sole purpose to massacre masses of people in one sitting, were not yet dreamt of. The Second Amendment was created so that if the American government became too big or too powerful, the people could rally against and protect themselves.
I think the saddest part of it all, though, is that I am unsure if anything will change. Columbine should have been it. America should have done something the first time this happened. But now mass shootings have become so normalized that seeing reports on my news feed is just another collection of words to me, and I’m sure I am not the only one who feels this way.
Of course I will never stop marching, voting, standing up and crying out for those who no longer can. But it’s almost as if the tragedies that strike America today are some sort of void-filling entertainment rather than real tragedies. A shooting will happen and Twitter will blow up for a few days after about how we “need change.” But then it will all die down until the next tragedy strikes and we do it all over again.
The U.S. government knows this too. They know we will eventually give up the fight and move on to other news. To them, it means they don’t really have to do anything. It’s just a sick waiting game to see how long it will take society to forget and move on.
American culture is so closely tied to the idea of “freedom.” “Land of the free, home of the brave.” The idea of “freedom” has become so morphed in modern American culture that “freedom” has become more important than life itself. The sad reality is that I do not believe change will come until every single American citizen is affected by gun violence personally. Laws will not be passed until they, their daughter, son, wife, husband, dad, mother, best friend or anyone else of importance to them is affected by gun violence.
We have lost our ability to empathise with those around us because we are so selfishly tied to the idea of “it’s my freedom.”
As an everyday American citizen, I wish I had a solution to this ever-present issue. I wish I could tell you that change is coming and that it’s only a matter of time before Washington sees that real people are dying and it needs to enact stricter gun laws. But I can’t.
I don’t know what will happen concerning the debate we have in this country regarding gun violence and gun control. All I can do is vote for representatives who want to see the same change as I and continue to make my voice heard.
It may not be much, but it’s something. And I can only hope you do something with me.