No more thoughts and prayers

Evelyn Kowalski, Editor in chief

It’s that time of the month again. I’m talking about when you check your phone and see that your mom texted you an article with the news that there was yet another mass shooting in America. 

Your heart drops, you skim the article a little, tell your friends, then move on. If it’s a big story, maybe it stays in the news for two weeks, or maybe a celebrity has Tweeted their “thoughts and prayers” because their publicist told them to. 

When will enough be enough? How many more children have to die before there is change? The problem is, it feels like there is so much support and community after a mass shooting, yet we need it before. For example, thousands of dollars were donated to Uvalde after the tragic shooting at an elementary school. But do you think donations even matter to a parent after their child has been murdered? We don’t need “thoughts and prayers”; we need action. 

We need to vote. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker just banned assault weapons in Illinois. Say what you want about him, but these bans are the exact measures we need to keep guns off the streets and out of our schools. We need to make sure we are electing individuals who are committed to protecting our communities and families, not ones that pocket money from the National Rifle Association (NRA). 

Especially as young people, our votes matter. It is as if when the number of casualties from gun violence goes up, so does the money in politicians’ bank accounts. Even “good Republicans” such as Mitt Romney have collected more donations than any other politician from the NRA (a running total of over $13 million). 

Then we hit a speed bump–the Second Amendment. It’s etched right into the Constitution: the right to bear arms. There are ways we can prevent gun violence while still guaranteeing citizens their constitutional rights. Restrictions are always a step in the right direction; it should not be easy to get a gun. To some, owning a gun is important for self defense measures or hunting. Yet time and time again it has been proven that semi-automatic military style weapons are not necessary for hunting and self-defense. 

If you need an AR-15 to shoot a deer, I think you should work on your hunting skills rather than protecting your precious guns. It is important to keep in mind that the Second Amendment was written at a time when Americans very recently had to defend themselves from the British, and as of right now, I think they’re too preoccupied worrying about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry to try to colonize us again. 

There are several gun-control policies that politicians advocate for. Although most appear effective, it is important that if we want to make any change we need to start small and be realistic if we are going to get both sides to agree on anything. One of the most popularly advocated gun control policies is increasing background checks. This is a bipartisan proposal that would make it harder for any individual to buy a gun. Such policies would help states with funding to update their systems, and close loopholes.

Other more recently proposed legislation is “Red Flag” laws. With these laws in place, a judge can restrict a certain household from owning/purchasing firearms if there is evidence a certain person is a danger. Laws like these could’ve been useful in the Parkland shooting, where police claimed there were several complaints against the shooter prior to the massacre. “Red Flag” laws not only can prevent mass shootings, but also suicides and violence early on. 

Ultimately, assault weapons are way too cherished in America. If conservatives truly supported “the right to life” that they like to impose on women, they would refuse the NRA’s blood money, put down the AR-15, and pick up a ballot.