EDITOR’S NOTE: The following column was written by a group of students from across the county, including Rhea Varma of Smyrna. She attends South Cobb High School. The other authors are Jacob Sumner, Jackson Schulte, Jade Crosby, Mae Johnson, Monique Mendez, Erin Boersema and Sydney Cooper.
We are a group of high school and college students from around the country, concerned about the ongoing gun violence epidemic in our country. It is an epidemic that does not discriminate and affects everyone — regardless of race, ability, age, gender, sexuality or socioeconomic status. We will not accept a “new normal” where gun violence is a fact of life.
There are many reasons to be concerned.
According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, 6 in 10 Americans fear a mass shooting occuring in their own community. This makes sense, considering that there have been over 366 mass shootings in 319 days this year, for an average of more than one mass shooting every day, according to the nonpartisan Gun Violence Archive. On average, 100 people die from gun violence every day.
Mass shootings, however, are not the only form of gun violence. Cities like Chicago, Baltimore and Orlando face urban gun violence all the time. This urban violence mainly affects underserved communities of color, in which homicide rates are 10 times the national average. This further proves the case that people of color are more likely to be victims of gun violence than perpetrators.
Becoming more involved in the legislative process can help constituents better understand the demands they should place on legislators. For example, H.R.8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, passed the House of Representatives over 250 days ago — but has been repeatedly blocked in the Senate due to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s unwillingness to act. However, the sister bill, S. 42, has been cosponsored by 42 senators.
No one should be afraid to go see a movie. No one should be afraid to go to the mall. No one should be afraid to go to school. No one should have to worry about a mass shooting occurring in their community. No more families, no more friendships should be torn apart. It is not only unacceptable that the American people are living in fear, but it is also fatal.
Despite the unnerving statistics, there is hope that we will see the end of the gun violence epidemic.
According to the above ABC News/Washington Post poll, 89% of Americans support universal background checks, including 83% of Republicans. Bipartisan majorities support emergency risk protection orders, also known as red flag laws. In fact, 86% of Americans support red flag laws, which include 85% of Republicans. The poll also found that 56% of Americans support banning assault weapons such as the AR-15 and guns modified to have a higher rate of fire.
The time for action is now. We refuse to accept a “new normal” and so should you. It’s time for Congress to pass common sense gun safety measures. Please join us in urging our Senators to take action. Together, we will rise above the gun violence epidemic.