By Alexis Solheid
My heart broke last week reading a headline about the school shooting in Benton, Kentucky, which killed two students and injured 18.
Reflecting on this event, I am at once shocked, saddened and frustrated.
I am shocked that this was one of 11 shootings on school property since the beginning of 2018 but that it was the first to be covered by major news outlets. I am saddened that we have become so desensitized to this form of violence that ten shootings can occur without even being discussed in our media and political institutions.
And I am frustrated that gun violence has become so commonplace that shootings barely even break headlines anymore. Frustrated that our leadership continually sweeps gun violence under the rug because the National Rifle Associations (NRA) money and influence means more to them than the mental health, lives and safety of our citizens. Frustrated that our president, who preaches an America first policy and speaks so boldly about protecting American citizens, didn’t even acknowledge the shooting until a day after it occurred and has not proposed any actions to prevent similar situations from occurring in the future. Frustrated that in his State of the Union address, President Trump spoke at length about ending gang violence related to immigration but did not even discuss the issue of mass gun violence, an epidemic which is currently running rampant in our nation.
I am frustrated that most instances of mass gun violence each year are carried out by white, documented, American citizens, yet we continue to target and marginalize people of color and undocumented immigrants for these crimes. Frustrated that we are so willing to stigmatize mental illness by citing it as the impetus behind gun violence but that no one is willing to make the types of reforms needed to provide better mental health care for our citizens. But most of all, I am frustrated at how complacent we, the American people, have become in allowing horrific events like these to occur. Frustrated that we have accepted defeat and that more people are not as outraged as I am right now.
If our government treated the issue of mass gun violence the same way it is treating issues of undocumented immigration, taxes or healthcare, I truly believe we would be making sweeping reforms to gun policy right now to better protect our citizens and bring greater security to our nation.
However, these changes will never take place if we do not begin actively calling for them to take place.
If you do not believe you are ready to take a stand yet, I pose to you these questions. How many innocent citizens need to be killed in instances of mass gun violence before you are ready to say enough is enough? If
Columbine, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Vegas or Kentucky weren’t bad enough to invoke outrage and political action in you, how horrendous and catastrophic of an event will need to occur before you finally call on our lawmakers for a change?
If we truly want to put the security of American citizens first, mass gun violence cannot continue to occur unchecked within our borders.
The time to raise your voice and take political action is now. Enough is enough.
This is the opinion of Alexis Solheid, CSB sophomore