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Voices: It is time to talk gun control

A Colorado high school student argues that the tragedy in Connecticut means it is time to talk about gun control.

I am deeply disturbed by the events that took place in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, and although we need to take this moment of mourning, we cannot, will not, sit idly by and claim this is not the time to talk about gun control in America.

Blood boils through my veins as I read tweets and comments about how “heartless it is to be talking about guns in such a tragedy” and how “now is not the time to debate over gun control; all we must do is pray.”

Well I do pray. I pray that Americans will open their narrow-set eyes to the issues at hand.

When two underage boys obtained guns and killed 12 students and a teacher in Columbine 13 years ago, “It wasn’t the time.”

When a mentally disturbed college student bought a gun, shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others at Virginia Tech during two separate attacks, “It wasn’t the time.”

When a 24-year-old University of Colorado student walked into a movie theatre in Aurora and shot 58 people with with an assault rifle and killed 12 of them, “It wasn’t the time.”

And now, as 20 elementary school children are murdered in the classroom – the place of learning and nurture — it still “isn’t the time.”

So when is the time? Once all the shootings die down? Once there is no one left to debate? Is it going to take your baby sister being shot in the head by an ill killer because of an easily obtained gun to finally draw attention to the danger of weapons?

What will it take?

I have heard people say these tragedies are rare occurrences. But at 16, I have watched three summer Olympics and three school shootings on TV.

Can this really be considered rare?

A few hours before the Newtown shooting, 22 people were stabbed in China. Nineteen were injured, three dead. On that same December morning, 26 people were shot in Newtown.

Both men set out to kill; it was the weapons that ultimately determined the outcome of their victim’s precious, innocent lives. People hurt people. Guns kill people. ‬

There is an eerily familiar feeling about this horrendous occurrence. Heart-wrenching images fill the screen, the public grieves for the victims, newscasters discuss being devastated by tragedy.

Within a week, the hype fades away and the discussions America needs to have about gun control are avoided once again.

Soon enough, the unfathomable happens again, and it’s the same cycle. At this point in history, these events have become fathomable. With the resources to commit mass murder, what is stopping these mentally disturbed individuals? All it takes is a sick mind and a gun.

On 9/11, my cousins lost their father. I lost an uncle; my mom lost a cousin and my dad lost a friend. I still remember my mother’s heaves of sorrow as she heard the news.

I picture parents of six-year-olds in Newtown and hear their heaves of sorrow as they wait outside the school to see their children. I picture them going home to their children’s bedrooms, perhaps closing the door to lock away the pain, or maybe inhaling their scents to cherish the memory – all they have left.

It is a memory we cannot forget, one that calls for reconciliation over the disparity of views regarding gun control.

At 16 my voice may seem naive and inexperienced. But I vow to make a change. I vow to work to change the safety of our country, our schools, our families. I vow to encourage means of peace, as it is the only way to a secure future for our children, our parents and our ourselves.

I am young, but these tragedies are real. I want my voice to be heard. And I know I am not alone.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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